The voices of the damned

Twelve people were killed today at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, when three masked gunmen walked in and started shooting.

According to Sky News, which never makes things up, they are believed to have called out the victims by name, including the editor, a cartoonist, a contributor, Bernard Maris and two police officers were also among the dead, including one assigned as a bodyguard after prior death threats. As happens when you start loosing off assault rifles, 20 people have also been injured, at least four seriously.

After the killing, the gunmen apparently ‘calmly’ returned to their getaway car and shouted: “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed, we have killed Charlie Hebdo.” One of the gunmen was heard screaming “Allah”, as they opened fire. God likes this stuff. Always.

Henry Samuel, the Daily Telegraph’s Paris correspondent, told Sky News: “According to people on the ground, two masked gunmen burst into the offices very heavily armed, (with) Kalashnikovs, apparently even with a rocket-propelled grenade, and opened fire, leaving several minutes later. He added: “Then the gunmen escaped and are currently on the run, being pursued.

And then it all got normal. Francois Hollande condemned the attack as “an act of barbarism”, although what else he could have said apart from ‘alors’ is a bit moot. An extra 3,000 police officers have been deployed on the streets in a massive security operation and let’s face it, that always makes it look as if Something Is Being Done, even though it’s not, or at least not by them.

Parisiens have been asked to turn out at 7pm on the Place de la Republique in a show of solidarity with the victims and the magazine Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard told France Inter: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

Except of course, it is. And while we’re here Gerard, assault rifles and an RPG are categorically not ‘heavy weapons.’ Heavy weapons are things like howitzers, the type of materiel that levels buildings. Notwithstanding that, Facebook was instantly full of journalists demanding that every newspaper in the world ran the cartoons of the prophet that were supposed to have irked Islam in the first place, while some of their friends on their timeline took these events as yet more proof if proof were needed that all Moslems are terrorists. Obviously. They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true, as Joe Jackson used to tell us.

I didn’t see any of these people demanding that the crap that journalists wrote about WMDs and missile attacks in 45 minutes was also reproduced, another time that newspapers were jumping up and down begging to be weapons of war, too excited to report facts and more than happy to repeat any bullshit the government chucked their way.

We Are At Conflict

Gotcha! when over 300 Argentinians were drowned by the British Navy and Bastards! when the Argentinian Navy killed far fewer plucky noble Brits was the time before, when once again newspapers were only too happy to be weapons of war, trumpeting the Our Brave Boys chorus.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted, or got someone to Tweet for him: “The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

There is clearly no terror at all when we flatten Baghdad, or Kabul, or invade other countries, or go to someone’s house in a foreign country and kill everyone there then throw away the body in case anyone wants a good look at how we shot exactly, or drones strike a wedding, or when we do anything military at all. Obviously. We kill hundreds of thousands of people instead of a dozen for the very best of reasons always and frankly they respect us for it, he might as well have added.

Any murder is sickening. It diminishes everybody, murderer, bystanders and murderee alike. But we don’t stand by the freedom of the press any more than the press, as a whole, wants to get off its collective arse and go and do some open and honest reporting when the public is being lied to. And if you seriously believe that this or any other government doesn’t simply embargo and D-Notice inconvenient facts while piously talking about freedom, there’s not a lot of difference between the simplicity of that stance and the upholders of any faith who maintain their invisible friend in the sky wanted people machine-gunned.


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