Je Suis Grub Street: Salman Rushie and the But Brigade love Charlie Hebdo but hate the British Tabloids
Salman Rushdie has been taking on the ‘but Brigade’, whose newfound committment to free speech after the Charlie Hebdo massacre has been steadily vanishing, who see moral equivalence and relativism in the murders:
“The French satirical tradition has always been very pointed and very harsh, and still is, you know. The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades … who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists and I don’t know what else… Both John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela use the same three-word phrase which in my mind says it all, which is, ‘Freedom is Indivisible’. You can’t slice it up, otherwise it ceases to be freedom. You can dislike Charlie Hedbo. But the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak.”
But this is the same Rushdie who agrees that the Press should be licensed by Royal Charter. Free Speech is great. But he and many other notables signed this ‘But’:
“We believe that a free press is a cornerstone of democracy. It should be fearless in exposing corruption, holding the powerful to account and championing the powerless. It has nothing to lose, and can only be enhanced, by acknowledging unethical practice in its midst and acting firmly to ensure it is not repeated.
“We also believe that editors and journalists will rise in public esteem when they accept a form of self-regulation that is independently audited on the lines recommended by Lord Justice Leveson and laid down in the royal charter of 30 October 2013.
“It is our view that this charter safeguards the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable. That is why we support it and that is why we urge newspaper publishers to embrace it.”
So. It’s great that Charlie Hebdo has the right to free speech. Freedomn is Indivisible! But the British tabloids must be controlled. British tabloids are ‘unacceptable’ journalism. Journalists should do what the politicians (and be afraid: all parties ageee) and Hacked Off pressure group tell them to.
No buts. It’s not all that complicated…