protest

Communication Takes the World Stage

I give you but a few of many thoughts on the mediasphere since the terrorist acts in Paris of last week:

Artists respond to the attack on Charlie Hebdo:

Former Nun asks “What Does this Serve?

Terry Nicholetti, actor, author and founder of Speak Out Girlfriend has worked in women’s empowerment and human services since leaving the convent years ago. She’s a dear friend of mine and woman of deep compassion and love for humanity.

As we discussed the Charlie Hebdo shootings, she asked: “what purpose does it serve to publish a cartoon that deeply offends and outrages the religious sensibilities of the largest religious group on the planet?” It’s a good question.

My answer is that the purpose is satire, for stimulation of debate in the public sphere. Terry was persistent in her concern is that publishing material known to be outrageously offensive is going to have predictable, and devastating, results. Does the presenter of such speech bear responsibility for the dreadful result?

Indeed, Pope Francis spoke to this very idea during his trip to Manila on Thursday:

“You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it,” the pontiff said. “Freedom of speech is a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending.”

“People who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others are provocateurs,” Francis said, and went on to draw a parallel to his friend insulting his mother. “He can expect a punch. There is a limit.”

To those used to America’s free speech tradition, which champions the freedom to give offense over the right to be protected from it, Francis’s statements may sound uncomfortably similar to victim blaming. But they are actually very close to many European countries’ positions on the limits of free speech. [from VOX] 

While I am most likely to take the side of the artists in this instance, another

A Feminist Muslim’s take on Charlie Hebdo

Steph is a writer who as a teenager was a forced convert to Islam and live under as she describes it religious mysogyny. In her post on the Charlie Hebdo shootings, she speaks about the burden of those silenced by radical religious ideology enforced by violence.

I spent a good chunk of life controlled by a radical religious ideology, and another chunk too scared to talk honestly about it. My experience, and the experiences of many who are marginalised, controlled, and silenced by radical Islam, is that the figures of authority responsible for spreading the rhetoric of terrorism do indeed have power and privilege. They aggressively tout misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic dogma, and they control individuals, families, communities, and sometimes whole states through fear. So, personally, I find living in a society where I’m free to ridicule terrorists who want to dictate the terms of free speech, and have me stripped of my autonomy and my right to laugh and poke fun, a very comforting thing indeed.

You can read her entire fascinating and provocative post at her blog,  ReImagining My Reality.

 

The West Should Examine its Conscience

In an article on CNN.com, noted philosopher Noam Chomsky challenges the eWest to examine the hypocrisy of our outrage, considering a string of reprehensible acts such as the 1999 NATO attack on Serbian media and the US led ‘War on Terror,’ which Chomsky called “Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby.”

Read the entire op-ed piece at CNN.com here.

 

One Last Thing…

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Non-Verbal Olympic Protests Fly Below Radar

2014-winter-olympics-5710368030588928-hpThe beauty of visual communication is the powerful impact of a glance. In a fraction of a second our big visual brains read and interpret nonverbal messages like shape and color and symbol.

Google made a big statement today without saying a word. They posted a google doodle made of Olympic winter sport figures on the colors of the rainbow. They did reinforce it with a quote from the Olympic Charter that leaves little doubt of their intention:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

la-sp-sn-pussy-riot-homage-alexey-sobolev-2014-001In a country struggling to define the rights of political and artistic  speech it can permit, Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev plainly displayed the bottom of his snowboard, painted with what is clearly an homage to the outlawed punk rock band Pussy Riot, whose knit masks have become a signature of their protests.

Visual statements like these speed messages to the brain and evade the censors, at least for a while. The power of image cannot be denied. Are you using your visual messages to their fullest advantage in your communications?