[ by Charles Cameron — personally, i’d rather grieve than hate ]
You can’t dull one mass of senseless pain with another, they don’t cancel out, nor are they additive — but FWIW:
— maria lia calvo (@MariaLiaCalvo) January 7, 2015
The last serious European Christian violence in response to perceived blasphemy that I recall was the rioting surrounding the release of Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. I would have been 45 or thereabouts, and was friends with Scorsese‘s friend, the late film-maker Michael Henry Wilson, who was involved with the publicity for the film, and I remember the tension in the air as I obtained my tickets for an LA pre-screening.
In an earlier post, Of films, riots and hatred III: Scorsese and Verhoeven, I quoted The Encyclopedia of Religion and Film:
Overseas, at the September 28 opening in Paris, demonstrators who had gathered for a prayer vigil threw tear gas canisters at the theater’s entrance. Catholic clergy led rock-throwing and fire-bombing assaults on theaters in many French municipalities. A thousand rioters in Athens trashed the Opera cinema, ripping apart the screen and destroying the projection equipment.
On October 22, 1988, a French Christian fundamentalist group launched Molotov cocktails inside the Parisian Saint Michel movie theater while it was showing the film. This attack injured thirteen people, four of whom were severely burned. The Saint Michel theater was heavily damaged, and reopened 3 years later after restoration. Following the attack, a representative of the film’s distributor, United International Pictures, said, “The opponents of the film have largely won. They have massacred the film’s success, and they have scared the public.” Jack Lang, France’s Minister of Culture, went to the St.-Michel theater after the fire, and said, “Freedom of speech is threatened, and we must not be intimidated by such acts.”
In the case of Last Temptation there was a potential for fatal violence, but no death. Today’s massacre at Charlie Hebdo was less spontaneous, more concentrated, carefully planned and executed, and deadly.