It is now eighteen months since the horrible incident in Paris, when several journalists on the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” were murdered by Islamist terrorists.
The great and the good of Belfast society…ie journalists and Bloggers gathered at Belfast City Hall, holding placards. The placards proclaimed “Je Suis Charlie” and our journos and bloggers held up pencils to symbolise their support for the Free Press. Being journalists and Bloggers…they all took selfies. I didnt go to the City Hall that night. I can only take hypocrites and hypocrisy in small doses.
As the days passed, it became clear that the Charlie Hebdo journalists had a mixed record on Decency.
But journalists love victimhood…as long as it is somebody else getting victimised. Thus at An Féile, the West Belfast festival, I have sat thru journalists telling lecturing on me how bad it is for journalists around the world. Patrick Corrigan from our local Amnesty International was in the chair on a couple of occasions.
A reaonable person might suggest that in Britain, the public is more at risk from having their rights abused by journalists than journos are at risk from the general public. Thats what the Levenson Inquiry found out anyway.
An Féile festival starts next week. I dont know if Patrick Corrigan and Amnesty will be .presenting a lecture on Press Freedom and the Risks to Journalists. If they do, I doubt Ciaran Barnes of the Sunday Life will be the main speaker on behalf of his oppressed colleagues around the globe.
Social Media is supposed to increase Empathy. I am not sure that it does. I am not sure if the City Hall protests for that Saudi Arabian Blogger in prison and being flogged was before or after “Charlie Hebdo” but I do know that the familiar cast of journos and bloggers were outside City Hall, taking photographs of each other.
It is of course true that Journalism can be a dangerous profession in totalitarian states. But there is something about Journalists that makes them love their own victimhood.
Grief …Disgust at murder….should not be selective. Nor should it be divisive. Inevitably the “Je Suis …” placards get overtaken by events. The nightclub in Paris….the airport at Brussels….but few in the west get overly upset about the airport in Ankara or the street market in Baghdad.
We have to feel a connexion to the victims groups. But curiously the torture, rape and murder of Christians in Syria and Iraq is not on the western radar. There are no Twibbons on Twitter. There are are no flags on Facebook profiles. As the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower and Belfast City Hall lights up for Paris, Brussels, Nice, Munich….Orlando…..we might want to see Belfast City Hall light up in Vatican colours for an 84 year old Catholic priest, murdered today.
Or maybe I am misjudging our local branch of Amnesty and the usual suspects who solemnly carry placards at the gates of the CIty Hall. Maybe, Patrick Corrigan is organising a vigil as I type this.
And lest we forget…nineteen Japanese people with disability were murdered today. Anyone gathering at the City Hall?
Is there a “hierarchy” of Victims?
Fr Jacques Hamel RIP.