Je Suis Charlie: Words to Defend the Freedom of Expression
Freedoms such as “freedom of expression” are so basic, thus taken completely granted. Today, we have been reminded just how precious such a “basic” freedom in the most horrendous of ways. 3 Armed gunmen viciously shot and killed 12 people at the Paris office of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
Reports are saying that the 3 gunmen, claiming to be part of Al Qaeda, stormed into the Hebdo office after they forced cartoonist, Corinne Rey, to enter the door lock code. They then reportedly fired as many as 50 shots both inside the office, and the streets outside. Among the murdered, there is the magazine editor Stephane Charbonnier, economist Bernard Maris, and cartoonists Wolinski, Cabu, and Bernard Verlhac. After fleeing in a car, they exchanged shots with police. They also were caught shooting a police officer in the head as they were running towards their car.
Some will say that the magazine should be more careful about what they publish. Others may be more affected directly, and actually be more careful about what they say or publish for fear of retaliation. That is, after all, the intent of such an attack. It is to bring fear. It is to make us decide just how much do we value this freedom. It is to make us aware of the repercussions of keeping such a freedom. And for some this attack may influence them to curve their thoughts and expressions, and I cannot blame them. But before we act out fear, which ultimately is these cowards’ main weapon, we need to consider what the repercussions may be of bending even a little in our right to express ourselves. What would that mean?
I offer my condolences to the families of the victims. But I also implore everyone to know that these men defended this freedom with their lives. Let us keep that in mind when we consider if we should be careful with what we write or express because of the fear created by cowards such as these gunmen.