Once upon a time there was a language in which words had meaning. And then came the devil Ambiguity, along with his minions, Politics and Religion. From that moment forth, meaning became as cloudy as a shower of piss.
When contentious events unfold, anywhere in the world, there is a scramble to gain control of the narrative. It is commonplace for businesses, governments and individuals on occasion to hire people to manage the flow of information and colour it appropriately to try to morph the story into a predefined version. This behavior affects all forms of media, stretching from newspapers and magazines, all the way down to simple memes which people share online.
One of the key strategies in public misdirection is the inappropriate use of labels. When a news story becomes attached to sometimes a single word, or a single idea, the public’s attention is driven away from considering what truly happened and instead the public become recipients of a ‘manufactured’ intrepretation. A recent example is the shooting in Paris.
For those of you that have been hidden under a rock for the past week, two gunmen entered the office of a satirical magazine and murdered a number of people. Various ‘labels’ for the shooters were flung around in the beginning such as ‘terrorists’, ‘extremists’ and ‘Islamists’, before they were quickly replaced by an ideology so important to Western European societies that almost immediately the crux of the problem was forgotten. At some point it stopped being a terrorist attack, we were all mistaken, it was in fact an attack on free speech. Except that it wasn’t.
There are always few bare facts in a story. In this case the one fact that is crystal clear – a satirical magazine was attacked for cartoons which satirized Islam. It was not the office of journalists without borders. It wasn’t an association against censorship. It was a targeted attack against one magazine. To claim that this attack has anything to do with free speech makes as much sense as blaming it on cheese, or blaming it on religion.
In France there are an estimated 4.7 million Muslims. There were three gunmen involved in this spate of attacks. If by any chance this was genuinely caused by religious beliefs the result would have been significantly different. And yet there were no riots or large-scale protests like we’ve seen in the past. There is only one conclusion any rational person can draw from this. What is the label that adequately describes men such as these, that purposely acquire weapons so they can murder people who create cartoons? Mentally ill, perhaps?
Last weekend people marched in solidarity and didn’t really seem to know why. They felt the very human urge to say that they are not scared, that they believe in free speech and that violence will never win. Despite the fact they weren’t really sure of what they should be afraid of, nor were they sure of what precisely free speech is or who is threatening it. The important thing is that ordinary people marched arm in arm with the free-speech (not so) loving leaders of the free world to send a message. And the message was thus ‘we are blind’.
This ‘wave of feeling’ which has ridden across the western world is not going to be a catalyst for change. Therefore it is meaningless. The idea that doing absolutely nothing is going to stop further terror attacks is absolutely mental. If anything they will only increase, as every single example only further demonstrates what sitting ducks we all are. The worst thing is that whilst we all focus on the European narrative, while we raise our pens and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’, little by little our freedoms and our rights are going to be stolen from us piece by piece.