Does the truth exist with a capital letter T.

I. Today. 10 to 8.

About the radicalism of Charlie Hebdo, the inevitability of blasphemous statements and the unreasonable demands of frank speech.

Would you die for an idea? Until well into the 1980s, when Stéphane Charbonnier graduated from high school, this was an exam question in philosophy. The curiosity of the question, the flirtation with the unconditionality of the youthful Sturm und Drang, was mistaken for seriousness by the teachers at the time - or they thought it was a brilliant intellectual game of glass beads. None of them saw their students covered in blood under the drawing tables of the editorial team of a satirical magazine. The French journalist and author Pascale Hugues, who spoke on the occasion of the murders of the illustrators of Charlie Hebdo Reminiscent of the naive and infamous Abitur question, she does not hide her answer: "Of course we wrote in capital letters‘ OUI! ’on the white exam paper. We were 18 years old, we had great ideals in our heads, without taking any risks. We were not threatened with loss. Especially not that of the life into which we wanted to jump with both feet first. "

To yourself a Truth to bind oneself with body and soul in their Providing service and dying for them with an open eye is no longer a question of that in Western societies collective decency (with Hamburger s-t ’) more like at the beginning of the 20th century. It has become an extremely rare and suspect thing, an attack on the prevailing symbolic order, in other words: on the unwritten law that separates the permitted from the forbidden in every culture and defends this difference with claws.

What goes to the “kidneys” of the respective dominant culture is radical, what they do Not can understand. Radical is someone who can no longer bear the difference between theory and practice and begins to tear down the necessary distance between the two dimensions established by Aristotle. That sounds harmless, but it isn't. Because the gap is not closed with an interchangeable example, but with commitment and disclosure of one's own body once and for all. This radical self-empowerment (with the loss of one's own integrity and sociality) has a superhuman effect - and binds imitators to the extent that it polarizes and divides their viewers: into believers and unbelievers.

Anyone who turns against the theory-practice gap, against the symbolic order and against one's own self-preservation interests is only a blink of an eye away from the extremist. It so happens that the apparently comfortable civilizational line that ran between dying and killing for an idea has narrowed since the attacks in Paris. The existential attachment to a Truth for at least four of the victims as for two of the perpetrators of Paris equally is what makes things so complicated.

It is probably no accident that the murdered editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo the German public from a reputable newspaper like the South German is presented as "upright, fearless, radical". A sentence to Le Monde serves as proof, which - prophetically enough - was uttered in 2012: “I have no children, no wife, no car, no debts. That sounds a bit pompous now, but I would rather die upright than live on my knees. “I am not open to blackmail, is the announcement - and if you kill me, I will not have served you with my death.

That's what it looks like - and that's how it happened. Four deaths in a Jewish supermarket alone would probably not have driven three million French onto the street. In the literal sense, it is the oversized pencil held up everywhere that guarantees the draftsman's innocence and the enormity of the Kalashnikov directed against him. Sad enough that the Western public has long since come to terms with police protection for cartoonists because of notorious death threats. Neighbors are said to have innocently shown the heavily armed assassins the way to the undesignated editorial office, the illusion of an elite unit to protect against attacks in their heads.

At the end of the day, it is the blatant inequality of the “choice of weapon” that later gives the emotional impetus for the outrage that broke out a million times, and it is probably only in the second breath that the freedom of the press is defended.

What to think of the perpetrators' astonishing declaration in the midst of the bloodbath that they did not kill women and civilians, Islam forbids them to do that? Did the psychoanalyst Elsa Cayat die "accidentally"? Does the pencil just turn a male illustrator into a warrior in defense of the Christian West? How will the surviving women from the editorial team feel - declared unworthy to die for their ideas, resp. for incapable of carrying out a fully valid blasphemy against the prophet?

Blasphemy - what is it? Appropriate power over the most sacred? But how can a person use a disparaging word or an exaggerated facial expression to achieve the highest symbolic power over his or the god of others? I confess that as a 16-year-old Protestant attending an Ursuline school, I was astonished to learn that there is a “mortal sin” in Christianity (for Protestants as well as Catholics) that cannot be atoned for by confession and indulgences: blasphemy the Holy Spirit. Its meaning was explained to us on the occasion of three days of reflection in the monastery of Himmerod by a priest, who went into a mud bath with us at night. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit rules wherever more than two ... and is therefore always potentially offensive ... especially in the community of giggling girls who wallowed creatively in the dirt with their father, I finished the sentence out loud. The whole thing was so bizarre that I reflexively began to blaspheme that I couldn't help it. Years of shame about it followed immediately. I read Luther late in order to convince myself of the divine grace which no human act - neither for good nor for bad - can induce.

What I mean by that? Blasphemy is a serious offense in all religions, since it is an attack on the fear of God; Moreover, in at least two of the three monotheistic confessions, an extremely serious matter because they incredibly easy is to be committed. A simple thoughtlessness, an unfocused moment, an involuntary laugh is enough and the salvation of the soul is done! Zack! Thump! Out of the mouse! In Judaism, however, a certain number of people is sufficient to celebrate worship, of which must be expressly not all of them be a believer. The deviator or doubter belongs to the community instead of harming it. How nice! But as soon as the relationship of believers to God is regulated by infallible popes, deadly serious prophets or even an ubiquitous controlling Holy Spirit who can easily read blasphemous thoughts, blasphemy becomes one almost inescapable Thing. It becomes a symbol for the everyday apostasy from God qua absent-mindedness, absence, thoughtlessness. It guarantees, in a word, ours humanity.

The “right to blasphemy”, which the surviving editors claim a week after the massacre using the comics black on a green background, is in this sense the most human and incredibly strong so shortly after the attacks! Everything is forgiven stands like a divine judgment over a stunned-looking Muslim (dit Mohammed) who, in view of the overwhelming situation, has no choice but to bravely hold up his “Je suis Charlie” sign.

© Reuters

Well, hold it halfway up. The forgiveness on the side of the alleged blasphemists - it shows, conversely, how indelibly lost a person is who cannot forgive himself what is most human. Fortunately, God's honor can no more be lost than human beings can avenge it. Humanity can only be lost to a person if he stops laughing, gossiping, doubting, contradicting. When he forbids himself everything that distinguishes him from a god.

The last question that remains: does Stéphane Charbonnier belong in the Panthéon? Didn't he die for France, for the inalienable values ​​of the Grande Nation? This suggestion comes from Jeannette Bougrab, the former youth representative under Sarkozy. Although the dead man's family thinks she is a dress-up, Bougrab claims to have been the woman at Charb's side in the end, who theoretically should not exist.

The satirist in the Panthéon appears like a figure from Michel Foucault's last lecture at the Collège de France in the spring of 1984. It was published in German in 2009 under the title “Le courage de la vérité” and in 2010 as “The courage to truth”. In addition to the expert (who says what he knows), the wise (who is therefore mostly silent) and the prophet (whose truths remain obscure and therefore a matter of interpretation), there is a fourth form of truth-speaking, the cynical babbler, the unscrupulous everything -Sager, the never-mouth-holder, so not least: the caricaturist who draws the pencil he has just sharpened.

The Greek parrhesia The best way to translate it is with frank speech in the political arena. While ancient despisers interpret the term as saying anything ’, that is: as chattering around, its proponents praise the risky en speaking true’, without reserve, without fear. Parrhesia is one Talk with extreme risk of hurting another, combined with the risk of a violent reaction. Foucault's conclusion: “The parrhesia thus not only jeopardizes the established relationship between speaking and the person to whom the truth is directed, but it even risks the existence of the speaker, at least when the person speaking to him has power over him and he is the truth that is being told can't stand. "

We all know that on January 7th, 2015 in the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo no interlocutors met. It is also clear that not everyone can laugh at Charlie's weekly sexism, his vulgarities and polemics against all religions. But the productive difference between theory and practice, thinking and acting, which the blasphemy accusation does not want to admit and cannot endure, is at the core of freedom of expression. It's about the Impositions the parrhesia in the full sense of the word: to be chatty and stupid, truthful and risky, irrelevant or deadly precise. "I defend your right to say stupid shit," is how the British journalist Eliot Higgens sums up the situation, "but it remains stupid shit."

It seems that thirty years after Foucault's death the simple frankness of speech suddenly becomes “the courage to be truthful” - and synonymous with the seriousness of life.

Tags: Charlie Hebdo, France, media, radicalism, satire, terrorism
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The courage to face the truth is the new seriousness of life

From Mirjam Schaub

About the radicalism of Charlie Hebdo, the inevitability of blasphemous statements and the unreasonable demands of frank speech.

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