Corey Farrell

Charlie Hebdo: In defence of satire

Image: Wikipedia

Writing in response to Michael Burrill’s piece on satire, Corey Farrell proclaims, “If you have ever offended anyone anywhere then you are Charlie, and I applaud you…”


Michael Burrill’s article on the satire of Charlie Hebdo is a little off the mark.

In fact, I fundamentally (*boom tish*) disagree with his view on the role of satire.

With all due respect Michael, the main role of satire IS too offend. The great Louis CK hit the nail on the head when he said…

Offending people is a necessary and healthy act…every time you say something that’s offensive to another person, you just caused a discussion. You just forced them to have to think.

Satire is not the villain here and neither is offensiveness wrapped up in it. Being offended is one thing, we all deal with it every day, and like I said it’s important because it provokes discussion. Blaming the satirist for the offence taken by someone else is dangerous because being offended is inevitable. The villains here are the mentally defective drones of douchery who chose to use the “offensive” cartoon mixed with their distorted view of Islam as some green light for murder.

Empathising with the moderate Muslim is becoming harder for people, but before you become incensed and start calling me a bigot, let me explain…

With the current climate of the Islamic State, whether it be Iraq, or Kobane, Martin Place, or Boko Haram’s rampage through Nigeria, our news feeds are constantly being bombarded with death at the hands of “Islamic” men, making our view on Islam as a religion of peace soiled and almost beyond repair. The real culprits of singling out moderate Muslims are the same douches who kill in their name. It’s pure and simple name association. We see it online, we read it, and we swim around it in its awfulness daily. It’s similar to police officers becoming jaded and burnt out after dealing with the same crimes committed by the same people. They form a pattern. It’s not ideal or impartial, but it’s a reality.

And surely the moderate Muslim would find the killing of innocent men and women done under the veil of their religion more offensive than a cartoon depicting their prophet?

As for the non-violent Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, I’m not a fan. Aside from their choice of words on most things, their refusal to condemn the most recent acts is in my mind deplorable, and I would say the same about the Catholic Church choosing not to condemn sexual abuse.

Compare it to when somebody’s parents die and you say “I’m sorry.” This doesn’t mean that you killed them. It’s just an expression of sympathy.

It should be noted that I’m an atheist myself and have a real problem with religion in general, so for those of you thinking I’m anti Islam, well, you’re only partially right. I am anti God…anti any omnipotent psychopathic “parent” claiming unconditional love (while writing books on many weird specific and barbaric conditions), while promising eternal damnation should you waver on any of them.

Take away the far-fetched horror story that is religion, the story that has been re-written, imitated and passed off as another “the true” religion many times over, from ancient Egypt, to Christianity, to Islam, and then, and only then, will you get close to curing “terror.”

A utopia void of religion, where people need no manual on how to be good.


Corey Farrell

This is Corey Farrell. He is an aspiring Don Draper (minus the misogyny) who writes x-rated poetry, imaginary monologues, rants on rugby league and occasionally angry open letters to inanimate objects who simply can’t and won’t respond. He likes meat and puns, and firmly believes ‘a steak pun is a medium well done.

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  1. Corey Farrell said:

    LOL! Yeah your right, the internet handshake is well creepy now I think of it! All good man, you know what I meant, it’s a divisive topic. I responded to your piece so you have every right to defend and argue your points, sorry if I over stepped the line in any of my my responses. All the best man!

  2. Michael Burrill said:

    No I said that stating something like “that’s just the way it is, so there” is pointless because it’s not an actual opinion, rather just a statement. Other than that, I said repeatedly saying “It’s my opinion, it can be whatever what I want” wasn’t a meaningful argument because again that’s just a statement, not an intellectual justification for your points. Again it does seem like you were offended by my debating of your arguments if you took those as an attack on your right to have an opinion but whatever. Not trying to be a dick(just comes naturally), but the idea of an internet handshake kinda creeps me out, I agree we should leave it here though. Peace man

  3. Corey Farrell said:

    You did question my right to an opinion though when you repeatedly said it was pointless and had no use…but hey who am I to be offended? 😉

    Although I know you said it in jest, at least I hope so – ‘suggesting the shooters were also responsible for publishing the
    cartoons’….apart form being ridiculous I will give it credit fir being a great “jumping the shark” moment, (Happy Days reference).

    Let’s stop this carousel of criticism and shake hands….(extends hand….)


  4. Michael Burrill said:

    Questioning the value and the wisdom of their cartoons and the idea that they were somehow heroic or cutting edge satirists isn’t the same as suggesting they deserved to die(unless of course you’re suggesting the shooters were also responsible for publishing the cartoons…a sinister twist). When you say “I believe offending people is as important as it is inevitable.” it sounds like you think offending people is inherently worthwhile and that there isn’t any grey areas, which sounds to me like offence for offence’s sake, but I get it, that’s just like, my opinion man.At no point did I question your right to an opinion, critical of me or anyone/thing else so you repeatedly stating that it was your opinion and could be whatever you wanted kinda just seemed like an irrelevant statement of fact at best and at worst, an indication you somehow think your opinion is somehow special. Peace Out

  5. Corey Farrell said:

    Ok Michael…….incase it doesn’t make sense, it’s obvious we are never going to agree. From the tone of your article I felt like you were shifting the blame on the satirists, which I disagreed with, believing it was the extremist douches who pulled the trigger, sure maybe not enlightening enough to stroke your cognitive appetite, but a point of view none the less, which married to the real issue of the article being ‘taking offence.’ I believe offending people is as important as it is inevitable. I have no chip on my shoulder and stating that my opinion can be whatever i want it to be doesn’t imply that it’s right, I simply stated it to avoid you and people thinking that my atheist influenced opinion was better or more valid than theirs. For someone who is so widely open to criticism as yourself I would say your “threshold” is pretty low.
    This is now bordering on trolling from both sides so I’m happy to hang my hat up on the fact that you have a valid thought provoking opinion which I disagree somewhat on and I have my own. All the best!

  6. Michael Burrill said:

    Still you that’s sounding pious, I’m not trying to tell you what is and isn’t important just trying to point out the irony in treating your lack of belief with a similar intensity as some of the religious people you criticize. I’ve never felt like my voice as an atheist was being drowned out to be honest with you.

    It seems kinda contradictory to say “offending people in the right context” then in the next sentence basically say the context is irrelevant because “even provocative for provocative’s sake is provocative!”(sterling insight there old chum, also as enlightening as the people who killed the cartoonists being responsible for killing the cartoonists). But either way I guess your right who cares about the worsening cycle of alienation and anger right? as long as we can have an entertaining chat about it.

    I’m quite open to criticism, I just prefer it to make a bit more sense and I’m not really sure someone who says things like “like your article mine was an opinion piece so I can be whatever I want it to be. ” and walk around with a chip on his shoulder like atheists in Australia are an oppressed people should really be counselling others on their threshold for criticism

  7. Corey Farrell said:

    You’re totally correct but if you want to go down that path you’re assuming that there are not christian fascists or jewish capitalists, you’re separating their political ideals and their religious values. One can belong to a political party and subscribe to a religion at the same time. I’d say a good example of it being a little murkier in the motivations would be nazi-fascsim, it combined nationalism with a hate for the Jews and Judaism, so it touches on religion and often has it’s roots in it in one way or another.

  8. Corey Farrell said:

    Who are you to decide what is worthwhile and what isn’t? Now who’s sounding pious! Of course I equate my non-beliefs to that of believers, because I think we deserve an equal voice. Don’t you?

    I am allowed to be critical of you, of religion, whatever I want, and your right, that doesn’t make it worthwhile, or heroic but that’s no the point. Michael it’s simple. I think offending people in the right context is important, it doesn’t have to be heroic to be provocative. And whether somethings provocative just to be provocative, guess what? it’s still provocative! It deliberately caused anger and a strong reaction, which guess what? Get’s people talking on both sides, like the whole world is talking about, like you and I are right now! 😉

    Get used to criticism man, it doesn’t go away….

  9. Michael Burrill said:

    The fact that you equate your supposed lack of religious belief with religious beliefs say more than I’ll ever be able to. Also the idea that is only one religious view on things is simply untrue. That the people who killed the cartoonists were responsible for killing the cartoonists was never in question and saying “The real culprits of singling out moderate Muslims are the same douches who kill in their name.” kinda seems like you’re absolving responsibility to me and either way just saying “that’s how things are, so there” is fairly worthless.When it comes to Hizb ut-Tahrir, you said this was a response to my article so whether or not you are fan of them or what you think about what they said has no real relevance when it comes to the point I made in my article. And what exactly did the cartoons provoke people to think about? That there are a minority of extremists willing to use violence in an attempt to enforce their views? That some Muslims find depictions of the prophet Muhammad insulting? Again not really news to anyone, not really bringing anything to the table so fairly worthless satire, provocation for provocations sake. Lastly you said something along the lines of “It’s my opinion I can say whatever I want” a couple times, as though either that was a meaningful argument, that you are entitled to your opinion doesn’t inherently make that opinion worthwhile, similarly just as people have the right to publish Hebdo style cartoons it doesn’t make doing so inherently worthwhile or heroic

  10. Jacob Lynagh said:

    It depends on your definition of terrorism. Mine is that terrorism is acts of ideologically motivated violence against civilians.

    Whether you’re motivated by fascism, capitalism, nationalism, feminism, environmentalism, Islam, Judaism, whatever – killing civilians to further your ideology is terrorism.

    Under that definition, every war not fought purely in self-defense or liberation is terrorism. World War I, Vietnam, Korea.

    Add to that, a great deal of officially sanctioned terrorist groups are not motivated by religion. There are plenty in South America motivated by power and money, in the US by racism and nationalism, in Asia motivated by Communism etc.

  11. Corey Farrell said:

    I’d like to see the stats on non-religious motivated acts of terror against all others, somehow I think they would pale in comparison….

  12. Jacob Lynagh said:

    You could make that argument for Stalin, I probably wouldn’t agree, but Pol Pot and Hirohito were not influenced by the Christian ‘machine’.

    Similarly, the Buddhist terrorists in Myanmar are not committing atrocities in the name of Buddhism – it is because of their nationalist ideology.

    Racism, power-hunger, nationalism and political ideologies fuel terrorism without even the slightest touch of religion.

  13. Troy Alexander said:

    “Here then, the central premise of Hitchens’ argument is worthy of reiteration.  Had Stalin inherited a purely rational secular edifice, one established upon the ethos espoused by the likes of Lucretius, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Einstein and other free thinking and rational secularists, then the apologist’s argument would hold slightly more weight, but such wasn’t the case.  Stalin merely tore the existing religious labels off the Christian Inquisition, the enforcement of Christian orthodoxy, the Crusades, the praising of the priesthood, messianism, and Edenic ideas of a terrestrial religious-styled utopia, and re-branded them with the red of communism.  Had this Christian machine not been in place, then it is more than likely Stalin wouldn’t have had the vehicle he needed to succeed in causing so much suffering in the name of his godless religion, Communism.”

    I recommend reading God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

  14. Corey Farrell said:

    Hi Michael. Firstly, like your article mine was an opinion piece so I can be whatever I want it to be. Offense was not for offense’s sake it was to provoke and it did. I’m not absolving anyone I’m just pointing the finger and putting the responsibility squarely on those who killed the cartoonists. I also never absolved bigots I just stated that it’s a reality and listed how it happens. As for saying people can’t be offended by two different things at once, I’m confused. I said people can offended by any number of things and they are and it is good. I said I wasn’t a fan of Hizb ut-Tahrir because they refused to condemn the attacks, again my opinion and as I recall I also made an analogy of showing sympathy for the death of a loved one, and if the subscribe to a religion of peace and love than surely this wouldn’t be hard for them, right?
    You are correct, my view of religion is simplistic, as is religions views on most things, gay marriage, the oppression ow women and a list of other things that are too long to list. As for parading my athiesm, so what? I think every other religion gets their fair share of the soap box wouldn’t you?

  15. Michael Burrill said:

    Not really sure what not being a fan of Hizb ut-Tahrir has to be do with anything, rather

  16. Corey Farrell said:

    Yeah you’re probably right, and I made my position pretty clear. But I think I’d prefer a world where Atheist ideologies clouded peoples judgements as apposed to religion poisoning them….

  17. Michael Burrill said:

    Just as offense for offense’s sake is worthless so is offending people for it’s own sake, what exactly new or insightful did the cartoons bring to the table? That there is a minority of extremists willing to use violence to try and enforce their views on someone is nothing new to anyone, which even ignoring the fact it offended millions of people, makes it pretty worthless satire. While I agree violence is a completely unacceptable response, acting as though satirists are absolved of any responsibility to consider the context of and intellectually justify their work is a cop out. Similarly absolving people of any responsibility not to stereotype or worsen an already tense climate just because an extremist minority claims to be killing in the name of Islam is another cop out. As for moderate Muslims finding the killings offensive, you seem some people are able to be offended by 2 different things at once, for example many of the French Islamic organisations who condemned the attacks had previously condemned Charlie Hebdo for being discriminatory. I’m not really what not being a fan of Hizb ut-Tahrir(I’m not really fan either) the point is that if you claim to support free speech you have to support other right to it even when they express views you dont like. Well done for being an atheist, I’m one too but I don’t really feel the need to parade it around like it somehow makes me special or more enlightened. Your view of religion is quite simplistic, It’s neither the cause or the solution to all the world’s problems but rather something which can be good or bad depending on it’s interpretation

  18. Joe said:

    i agree Corey Farrell I think that people need to see discussion in context and part of that is to participate in and promote offensive satiric views

  19. Jacob Lynagh said:

    Take away religion and you get close to curing terror?

    The took away religion in Stalin’s gulag, they took away religion in Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

    Japan didn’t commit the rape of Nanking because of Shinto-Buddhism, which explicitly forbids such violence, and the US didn’t drop nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because of Christianity.

    In fact, Christianity was probably the only thing that made them hesitate.

    I feel like you’re letting your own ideology cloud your judgement here.

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