Tina K. Russell

August 13, 2008

Siné qua “Non!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:24 pm

Letters – When Speech Is Hateful, How Free Should It Be? – Letter – NYTimes.com
Re “Aux Barricades! France and the Jews,” by Roger Cohen (column, The New York Times on the Web, Aug. 4):

Mr. Cohen defends Bob Siné, a columnist-cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, citing free speech issues.

But Mr. Siné’s editor, Philippe Val, did not prosecute him or arrest him for his anti-Semitic column; he merely fired him.

Just because I believe absolutely in free speech does not require me to publish any hateful screed that comes across my desk. Mr. Siné is free to publish, at his own expense, any bigotry he likes. But a journal aspiring to be respectable has no legal or moral obligation to participate in such hatred, and it may well have political and moral reasons not to.

(Rabbi) Jonathan H. Gerard

Easton, Pa., Aug. 4, 2008

Yeah, but even before the outcry over Siné’s hateful column, everyone already knew that he was an anti-Semitic jerkwad. For me, the puzzle comes down to “why now?” I could be charitable and say that the editor merely felt, given the outcry, that Siné no longer merited any kind of public standard (as he does not), that the French people had outgrown his childishness and it was time to move on. But I cannot help but hang my head and sigh at the editor’s decision to fire Siné in direct response to the outcry. He was fully aware that Siné was a cantankerous bigot. Why hire him (if, indeed, he was the editor who did)? Why keep him on so long? And why fire him amidst a storm of controversy? Perhaps they realized (correctly) that they never should have hired him, but I do not like the chilling effect of hiring known provocateurs and then firing them when they provoke, nor am I fond of writers and cartoonists being fired to placate an angry mob, or editors making such key decisions in a tense emotional environment.

Then again, I’d be on cloud nine if Michael Savage got fired one of these days for his hateful shtick (he makes Rush Limaugh look like a Care Bear). My question is… if Siné is so bad (and it sounds like he is), why wasn’t he fired before? And why would a responsible editor fire him in the heat of controversy?

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