Friday, 9 January 2015

POV: No, I Can't....

"If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things." - Sebastiao Salgado.
And that is my way too.

I've waited until the murderers of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists were done with to express my personal view on this blog.

Readers of this blog, people who know me either personally or through social media, know of my interest in documenting world religions, unusual religious ceremonies and cults....the more esoteric the better.

 I am completely irreligious, and yet I'm profoundly interested -from a visual, intellectual and cultural standpoint- in these manifestations of faith. And it's for these exact reasons that I am not going to join the "I Am Charlie" flood.

I respect all manifestations of faith...whether I agree with them or not. How can I not, if I photograph them every chance I get?

During the horrible events in Paris, the concept of freedom of expression and of the press have been bandied about in the media, and many individuals have understandably been quick to express their support by commenting and displaying various avatars in support.

I'm one of the many who believe that freedom of expression ought to apply to all faiths, religions, beliefs...spiritual or secular. To select one and not the others is -to me- a form of discrimination and racism. 

But I also believe that scatologically smearing a group’s race, identity and beliefs (whether Muslim, Catholic, Jew or Hindu, etc) is an unreasonable thing to do, and is not the mark of a civil society.  I don't care if Charlie Hebdo's satire is a French "tradition" that even precedes Voltaire, the satirical polemicist who, by the way, was a strident anti Semite. If wielded with a heavy hand, it leads to hate.

And while I'm on Voltaire, he is incorrectly credited in having said "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." These were the words of his biographer. Check this to make sure.

Criticism of any religion can (and ought to) be done using intellectual and thoughtful discourse...rather than using pornographic/crass lampooning as was done by Charlie Hebdo. 

That is -in simple terms- why I am not, and will never be Charlie.