Teleologists– ils ne sont pas Charlie

by M.Byford on June 9, 2015 - 3:54pm

In January of 2015, two Islam gunmen found their way into the offices of a political/satire cartoon magazine named Charlie Hebado and open fired. The result of which was the death of twelve staff and the injuries of eleven more. The gunmen claimed they were motivated to commit this act by the deeply offensive and sacrilegious content being published by the magazine, primarily concerning the many offensive pictures’ depicting their prophet Mohammed, which according to the Koran is even illegal to draw let alone publically mock. The gunmen believed that according to their interpretation of the Koran this was within their right.

This event led to a worldwide outbreak of criticisms and controversy, leading to the known phrase ‘je suis Charlie’ of those that supported the cartoonists and represented free speech. The results of this violent incident have left the current world of cartoonists/satire journalists to think about their actions and moral responsibilities. Now many Journalists must consider whether they want to express their free speech no matter what cost, or to consider the people, and figure out where to draw the line of what is and is not appropriate. They are now faced with a multitude of questions; when has a piece gone too far? What are the outcomes of their actions? Is it morally justifiable to offend whole groups of people for the sake of a joke?

According to Teleology this is a moral dilemma which, if one takes the Utilitarianism approach, could theoretically be easily solved. To achieve the summum bonum the journalist must consider the audience who will be viewing his work. There is a feeling of necessity of information that is needed for society which must be published, but in the instance of jokes and satire, the audience must be considered. Going back to the case of Charlie Hebado in France, the Islam community makes up 7.5% of the population, a sizeable amount, of which the majority is focused in Paris (there the magazine is published) with estimated numbers around 1.7 million. Knowing that drawings and mocking’s of Mohammed (which as previously stated, drawing alone is extremely offensive). The journalist will have to weigh the fact that a comic is incredibly offensive and hurtful to a large number of the population, alongside the fact that if it is not published, it will not offend the reminder of the population. Consequently, even without knowing the extreme repercussions of the action; if the cartoonist is a utilitarianism he would act against his own self-interests of wanting to publish his work and therefore choose to not publish a cartoon of this nature.

Refrenced websites

http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/france-population/

http://ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org/2015/01/26/a-philosophers-thoughts-on-charlie-hebdo/

https://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/ethics-in-a-nutshell/