Tag Archives: Current Events

Is It a Brave New World?

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thousands of people gather at Republique square.

Thousands of people gather at Republique square, 11 January 2015.Photo: Associated Press

Is it a brave new world since the attack on Charlie Hebdo? The short answer is Yes and No. As the Jan. 11 Paris anti-terrorism rallies made clear, people choose not to live in fear. No, we will not live in fear. That is the universal gut reaction and what inspired such a massive outpouring of expression.

Then you add world leaders getting involved, taking a prominent spot at the rallies, and things get very calculated. Still, it was what it was: a moment. The deadly Jan. 7 terrorist attack on the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo inspired the biggest march in France’s history with at least 3.7 million people participating.

Then you add a multitude of talking heads and assorted pundits and you sift through that for a while. Some comments were fueled by unchecked outrage. Some comments were motivated by an ax to grind. Some comments were made by perhaps the unheroic wishing to be part of something that seemed heroic. And so on down the line. Pretty tiresome but also human.

But have we entered into something new? Yes, in the sense that Charlie Hebdo is now part of the hive mind. For now, for a very long time to come, we will consider and discuss what happened at Charlie Hebdo and its fallout.

There can be no universal consensus, no universal support, for the content in Charlie Hebdo. That is part of its appeal. It’s regular print run of 60,000 has risen to, at last count, 7 million. It is freedom of expression that inspires many of its supporters, many who are totally new readers to the paper. Jump in, feet first, when it comes to freedom of expression, they say. The fact remains that Charlie Hebdo is more than willing to cross a line into questionable and volatile terrain. It is out of any significant frame of reference for many of these new readers. It is only fair, and decent, to stop and think, no matter what the paper’s intentions, who is ultimately being hurt, offended, marginalized, targeted, turned into an Other, for the sake of some alignment with freedom of expression. Things, even seemingly innocent jokes, have ways of taking on lives of their own.

Ultimately, freedom of expression must win out. South Park must exist. Charlie Hebdo must exist. Any paper, any website, any street corner prophet, has a right to expression. But it doesn’t mean that everyone needs to feel obligated to join in and legitimize any and all content. In the spirit of attempting to make sense of events, there is a new site focused on dissecting Charlie Hebdo which may prove helpful. You can find it here. Learning more about Charlie Hebdo is good, in and of itself, whether or not you agree with its content.

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Filed under Charlie Hebdo, Editorial Cartoons, France, Newspapers

On Isaiah Berlin’s ‘The Hedgehog and the Fox’

Isaiah-Berlin-The-Hedgehog-and-the-Fox

Roy and I were just hanging out at the offices of Comics Grinder when we began to consider the current crisis in the Middle East. I had told Roy that Hillary Clinton was talking, actually warning, about the possibility of an Islamist state emerging from Syria and Iraq. This brought to Roy’s mind an essay by Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” The Hedgehog represents Plato and Big Ideas. The Fox represents Aristotle and Small Ideas. It is a classic that explains the virtues of knowing many small things as opposed to knowing, embracing, being blinded by, only one big thing.

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Filed under Essays, Geopolitics, politics

Jay Kinney on ANARCHY COMICS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

AnarchyTests

Mike Dooley of Print Magazine’s Imprint blog has posted an overview of a recent collection of Anarchy Comics, a legendary underground battle cry in comix. We have had (still have?) the Occupy Movement. The call to rebellion has been fueled in various ways over the years. For a punk look at the world, you can turn to Anarchy Comics. Here is Mr. Dooley’s post for your consideration.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Comics, Comix, Design, Michael Dooley, Print Magazine

Documentary Review: KEVORKIAN

Jack Kevorkian 2013 documentary

KEVORKIAN is an in-depth look at Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the infamous right-to-die advocate. Filmmaker Matthew Galkin explores the full man as he follows the doctor on his last quest, a 2008 run for a seat in Congress, and goes back over a life that will leave a lasting impression on generations to come. Dr. Kevorkian died in 2011, at the age of 83. This film will be available as a VOD starting on January 15, 2013.

The take away from this documentary is to know when you’ve won. Jack Kevorkian reached a point in his career where he could legally perform assisted suicides. He claimed to have helped end the suffering of upwards to 130 individuals. However, that was not good enough for Dr. Kevorkian. He wanted to officially settle the right-to-die issue once and for all by taking it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. In his view, the only way to do that was to get himself convicted of murder.

We follow Jack Kevorkian on his road to self-destruction with his push to get convicted for murder. From 1990 through 1998, Kevorkian had achieved numerous acquittals thanks to his attorney, Geoffrey Fieger. But, for his trial in 1999, he abandoned his attorney when he needed him most in favor of defending himself. While a brilliant mind, Kevorkian was completely out of his league in a court room. He recited Thomas Jefferson and Cicero and made an eccentric and histrionic plea that earned him 9 years in prison. He was not let out on bail, as he had planned. His case was not heard before the Supreme Court, as he had planned. He went to prison, as he had not planned.

What we ultimately see in Jack Kevorkian is a man that, despite himself, had a worthy cause and was willing to sacrifice himself in the process of supporting his cause. As Jack Lessenberry, a journalist with the Detroit Metro News describes in the documentary, “To see Jack Kevorkian in action is to see an Old Testament prophet, very disagreeable, not someone you’d want over for dinner. But he was willing to discuss death, a subject that we, as a society, are in denial over.”

This documentary, and its subject, so inextricably linked with death, ironically provide some interesting life lessons. Of all the people who could have taken up the right-to-die issue, it had to be Jack Kevorkian, a most persistent but often disagreeable sort. But he was also a very sensitive and complicated man. We get to see how the theme of death haunted him and spurred him into action. He gained his nickname, “Dr Death,” long before he became involved with euthanasia. He was the one to discover how to best tell the time of death of a patient, which is crucial when harvesting organs for transplants. You simply need to examine the eyes. He was a lifelong celibate and, in his case, he cuts a rather lonely figure. What did he do for fun? Well, for one thing, he created paintings about death. Had a better adjusted person taken on the cause of the right to die would that person have made as big of an impact as Dr. Jack Kevorkian? Finally, with his death, his legacy has a chance to live on.

KEVORKIAN is released by Virgil Films.
Available on Digital Download starting January 15, 2013

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Filed under Constitutional Rights, Death and Dying, Documentaries, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Movie Reviews, Right To Die

THE RUSSIAN TIANANMEN SQUARE: AND THEN IT BECAME NEWS

On May 7, 2012, Russians protested Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as president in Moscow. Vladimir Putin has been in power since 1999. There was that stretch of time with Dmitry Medvedev as “president” while Putin was “prime minister” and now we’re back to Putin, all Putin. What’s sad is that his coronation, or whatever you want to call it, would not have caught the world’s attention, in quite the same way, had it not been for Julia Ioffe’s photo taken with her iPhone of a little kid appearing to confront a Russian anti-riot squad.

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Filed under Current Events, Media, news