I Am NOT Charlie Hebdo
As a "cartoonist" I suppose I should weigh in on current events:
From what I've seen of Hebdo's Muhammad cartoons, they often rely on the taboo of depicting what one is not supposed to depict. Like many racist, sexist, domestic abuse, or "rape" jokes, a poorly crafted joke that is solely dependent on shock value, is usually pretty fucking weak.
I find that most political cartoons are not crafted to get a good laugh, they exist so that some 9-5 bozo sipping a morning coffee, can adjust their tie while thinking to themselves: "That's so true. It's about time somebody said it."
In my opinion, Hebdo inspires more Islamophobia than laughs.
Usually our culture praises violent responses to racism. A couple of years ago I was on stage working for DKM when a skinhead fan got on stage and started throwing nazi salutes. DKM's frontman Ken Casey, dropped his bass and walked over to punch the skinhead. A fight broke out and several members of the entourage, including two professional boxers fought the skinhead and removed him from the show. I have to assume that this guy got exactly what he wanted. He got the attention and violence he was seeking. The whole thing was caught on video and soon everyone from TMZ to the hippy dippy Brooklyn Vegan .com were praising Casey for his heroic act- violence against a racist.
Obviously, there would've been a different reaction if Casey had walked up and shot the guy in the head. But there would still be plenty of people out there singing his praises. Who hasn't heard the slogan "The only good nazi is a dead nazi."
There are some significant differences between your average racist foot soldier and the published cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. Most "nazi" skinheads are just confused, troubled, and misguided outcasts. Most embrace and welcome violence. What they all have in common is a willingness to face intense hatred and disgust from almost every person they encounter. The racism that came from Charlie Hebdo, is far more insidious. These cartoons provoked anti-muslim sentiment that permeated throughout French culture. These comics were popularized in a country with a Muslim minority. Unlike your average neo-nazi, the racists behind these cartoons were both praised for their defiance, and rewarded with salaries.
I acknowledge that there are a lot of backwards ideologies in the Muslim world, but the Western world has a long way to go before we can comfortably judge the rest of humanity. We use the lesser behavior of others as a crutch and an excuse to neglect our own self improvement.
If you are not offended by racist caricatures which mock the value system of an entire culture, you are entitled to your opinion. The question is, where do you draw the line? Do you embrace artistic camaraderie with artists who draw racist caricatures of Jews and Blacks? I do not believe in this bogus community of cartoonists. What we have in common is that we all express ourselves through doodles. While there are tons of cartoonists that I admire, there's also cartoonists like the guy who draws Family Circus. Worse than that, there are cartoonists like A Wyatt Mann, champion of the White Aryan Resistance. If you ARE Charlie Hebdo, prepare yourself to also BE A Wyatt Mann when he gets gunned down by the New Black Panther Party.
I will not be drawing any cartoons of Muhammad. This isn't only because I have no interest, it wouldn't be relevant to my style, and I have yet to see a good opportunity for a joke... It is because people are willing to kill over this. Think about that. If you can prove that you are willing to murder me if I draw a cartoon that you don't like, you fuckin' win! I give credit where credit's due.
To be clear to all of my readers and potential NSA spies. I think that all religious extremists are despicable fools. I would never align myself with any organized religion, extreme or otherwise.
To my fellow artists: Be safe out there, but don't confuse my sentiment. Draw whatever you want to draw. Say whatever you want to say. I would no sooner tell you what not to draw than I would tell a punk not to wear death skulls or swastikas. It's your choice to do what you want to do, but you better own it, and you better brace yourself for the impact.
Unless you are gagged and bound, there is no such thing as suppression of free speech. Even if the things you say get you killed, you still got to say them. And there's only fear to stop the next person from saying those same things.