When Righteousness Kills – The Massacre in Paris

Gunmen killed 12 people in the offices of a Paris satire magazine today. It’s widely assumed — and probably true — that the attacks were in retaliation for the magazine’s lampooning of militant Islam, although so far the “perps” have not been identified officially. In response, rightie blogs are having an insufferable self-righteousness orgy, and Richard Dawkins blames Islam. All of it.

Here is a page of cartoonists’ tributes to the magazine, Charlie Hebdo. I thought this one got closest to the truth of it.


Assuming the gunmen are fanatical Islamists seeking to “punish” the magazine — Yes, they assumed their righteousness trumped other peoples’ lives. Right now a lot of not-Islamic people are going to the same place. It ain’t the religion, folks, or at least not the religion by itself — see “Religious Violence Isn’t Just Religious.”

Read more about religious violence in Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World.

Update: See also “It Wasn’t About the Cartoons.”

2 thoughts on “When Righteousness Kills – The Massacre in Paris

  1. Amalie A. Aseltine

    Dear Ms. Barbara O’Brian:

    Thanks for posting so quickly about the massacre in Paris, although that’s not the reason I linked to this blog. I actually want to comment about the story of the Buddha’s Enlightenment and the story of Mara that includes the figure of the earth goddess as found in Southeast Asia. I live in Burma at the moment and have been researching for writing about the pagodas in Lower Burma. I am fascinated with the figure whose name can be transcribed as Wothandari–although there are many versions of the name. If you would like to have some links to her story (which seems to have been expurgated by the authorities from the Buddhist texts used in Burma a long time ago), I would love to have a way to send you some writings and images about her part in the the defeat of Mara. Please feel free to do so at the email given above which I assume you have access to. If not, let me know how else to contact you.

    In any case, thank you for disseminating light in a dark world. That sounds trite but that’s how it feels in a world beleaguered with the likes of ISIS (and by a country now in the midst of mindless religious violence).

    1. Barbara Post author

      I don’t know anything about Wothandari. Note that Burmese Buddhism has a lot of unique characters that were folded into Buddhism from local folk religions and also from Hinduism, and I suspect Wothandari is one of those. So she wouldn’t be a “Buddhist” figure who would show up in scriptures and teachings.


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