Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Associated Press Self-Censors Anniversary Charlie Hebdo Cover

Mohammad is nowhere to be seen. Neither is any courage.


Marge Simpson does not approve.
Charlie Hebdo

Once you decide not to show an image for fear of offending people, the number of things people say they find offensive, and therefore worthy of silencing, may well multiply.

So it goes today. On the cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo this week, the anniversary of the terrorist slaughter that killed much of its staff in Paris, you will not find any images of Mohammad. The image is a figure of God—the Judeo-Christian visualization of him—with an assault weapon strapped to his back. The text on it, translated from French, says "One year on: The killer is still at large."

Even though this image does not include Mohammad, the Associated Press, nevertheless, has decided not to pass along images of the cover of the issue to its many, many subscribing media outlets. There actually were some images available from AP content providers earlier, but they've been yanked. Erik Wemple of The Washington Post takes note:

The Vatican doesn't like it, asserting that it doesn't "acknowledge or … respect believers' faith in God, regardless of the religion."

The Associated Press doesn't much care for it, either: "We made a determination that showing a caricature of God in this context was just as offensive as showing a caricature of a prophet and hence decided to not to use the cover image," said Santiago Lyon, AP's vice president and director of photography, in a statement to the Erik Wemple Blog.

Wemple concludes that "once you start censoring, you have to do more censoring to stay consistent." Indeed.

The Associated Press, as a private media service, has every right to decide what sort of images to pass along to customers, though as a former newspaper editor, I would be very annoyed if I were a paying member to the AP only to have them tell me what sort of images were appropriate for me to publish. I'm the one who decides what my readers should be seeing, thank you very much.

There is a price for letting the "heckler's veto" win and we're seeing it play out right now. When you censor not over editorial standards but over fear of a backlash (regardless of what the AP says about offensiveness, an image of Muhammad holding a sign is not a sexual or violent image, and the AP obviously wouldn't self-censor an image of a human male running around carrying a gun), then suddenly everybody is going to find any image that challenges their beliefs to be "offensive." We can guess full well that some sensitive Christian souls complained about treating differently from Muslims. Rather than says, "Gosh, they're right—let's think about how we're actually making these decisions," they've doubled down on it and made the problem even worse. It's made all the more repulsive that the cover is obviously criticizing not God, but the behavior of the followers of religion. People are offended over not what the image says about God but about them.

Read more about the terrible, censorious way people have responded over the last year to the Charlie Hebdo attack from Anthony Fisher here.

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  1. The image is a figure of God?the Christian visualization of him?

    Umm, what?

    1. Must have uploaded the wrong photo…..bourne.jpg

      1. We need to develop a time machine so we can nuke the ’70s.

        1. You mean every decade before and after the 70’s right.

        2. What, next to the 80s, the 70s were the greatest decade ever

  2. Mean while,the middle east is having their version of the 30 years war OTOH maybe that’s the old testament god,he was mean S.O.B.

  3. Here is a fuller quote from that Vatican newspaper editorial:

    “Behind the deceptive flag of an uncompromising secularism, the French weekly once again forgets what religious leaders of every faith have been urging for ages – to reject violence in the name of religion and that using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy,” it wrote in a short commentary.

    “Charlie Hebdo’s move shows the sad paradox of a world which is increasingly sensitive about being politically correct to the point of being ridiculous … but does not want to recognize or respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of their religion.”

    They’re attacked by terrorists representing a faction of Muslims, and their response is to insult the faith, not only of all Muslims, but of Christians and Jews as well. Because at least the Christians and Jews won’t blow you up.

    1. The Vatican needs to tend to their own problems and cover ups..They have no moral high ground what so ever.

      1. The Vatican is tending to its cover-ups quite well, thank you.

  4. They took the “god” and “mohammed” balls out of the manatee tank.

    1. And, the “freemason” ball, too, from the looks of it.

  5. Not surprising at all. Squishy wusses gonna wuss squishily.

  6. AP are a bunch of collaborating morons who have no business calling themselves journalists.

  7. The image is a figure of God?the Judeo-Christian visualization of him?with an assault weapon strapped to his back. The text on it, translated from French, says “One year on: The killer is still at large.”

    I don’t get it. They think God was the perpetrator of the attacks?

  8. Hey, Reason, Muhammad pictures or it didn’the happen.

    1. Screw my auto “correct”

    2. Here you are…..8/fist.jpg

  9. At the risk of being repetitive: it’s odd that CH feels safer attacking God than Mohammed. Tells you something about which one the Mohammedans actually regard as more holy. Though maybe AP has twigged to the absurdity of it.

  10. There is no tradition in Islamic art of depicting Allah at all, much less in human form. So any depiction of an Abrahamic God is going to come off as the Judeo/Christian God. I’m not sure, but perhaps the cartoon is intended to draw attention to the paradox of the fact that, despite Allah and Yaweh supposedly being the same God, the followers of Allah feel that the killing of blaspheming cartoonists is implementing Allah’s will whereas the followers of Yaweh do not.

  11. “The image is a figure of God?the Judeo-Christian visualization of him?with an assault weapon strapped to his back. The text on it, translated from French, says “One year on: The killer is still at large.””

    That is so brave of Charlie Hebdo editors to go after a generic western concept of God as their people’s killer rather than the specific people who were responsible and what ideology they followed.

    1. What conspiracy that Jehovah conviced some Muslims to attack Charlie Hebdo in Allah’s name.

  12. DUde thats cool man.

  13. The French are really messed up. Including Charlie Hebdo. They really believe that religion is the source of zealotry and violence when in fact it’s the *prohibition* of religious expression that causes these problems. (First of all because criminalizing thought leads to violence, and secondly because it is used as justification for self-deputizing as enforcers.) Laicite is a huge misconception and mistake. But they are committed to it because they think it makes them more ‘civilized’. In fact it will surely be their undoing. Now we’re winding down our war on drugs. They must do the same with their war on speech and religion.

  14. Still not understanding how choosing not to include a particular image with your material is “self-censorship” (or even what “self-censorship” is supposed to mean in the first place). One could claim with equal validity that Reason’s choice not to include an image of Lobster Girl and Goatsie with this post is self-censorship.

  15. There is no Judeo-Christian visualization of God. That is a popular culture visualization. At least now attacking Christianity isn’t celebrated while attacking violent Islam is a “hate crime”

  16. There is a price for letting the “heckler’s veto” win

    ….and Charlie Hebdo has let them win. They spit on the graves of the people who died and spit in the faces of the people who supported them.

    Fuck Charlie Hebdo.

  17. Since when did wanting to force the press to distribute an image become a “Free Speech” thing??

    Here’s an idea, maybe if I, personally, am a member of the press and I don’t like a particular image, I shouldn’t be expected to redistribute that image.

    Associated Press’ Free Speech Rights give it the RIGHT to refuse to circulate an image. The act of NOT PRINTING AN IMAGE YOU DON’T LIKE is not “self censorship” it is an extension of your own free speech rights!! You guys are calling for coerced speech, and acting as if it is “free speech.” Acting as if everyone doesn’t cheer and celebrate Hebdo’s every fart that they hate free speech and are somehow “censoring” Hebdo’s work.

    By your logic, everyone who doesn’t mindlessly copy and paste my post is clearly self-censoring themselves and hates my free speech rights.

  18. i must say it was worth spending my time on reading about charlie hebdo. But i am experiencing one issue being associated with Lowe’s i am unable to access the lowes portal to check out the benefits and features.

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