I am a writer. I am a political and religious commentator. I have poked at the sacred cows of those whose beliefs and mandates separate them from others and make them feel superior to the rest of humanity. I believe that in shedding a ridiculous light upon the ridiculous, we find our sense of humor can teach us to see truth.
And, that is what Charlie Hebdo's cartoons were doing. By western standards, they're mild. Some might even say they were kind of warm and fuzzy in nature; certainly not something worthy of violence in retaliation. Then again, I see no reason why any cartoon should provoke someone to murder.
Extremism should be the subject of ridicule. When we bind ourselves to the assumed ideals from bronze-aged men living in a culture we cannot replicate nor begin to understand, and when we take these 'ideals' literally then attempt to force them onto the rest of the world, we need to be enlightened. It is in the realm of the mind that this war takes place. It is the war for truth and kindness. Words and pictures are the weapons of mass destruction - the destruction of ignorance and hate.
The people of France took to the streets last night, pens in hand and with signs that said, "We Are Not Afraid." They declared in one voice that they would stand against this war on freedom of speech, freedom of ideas, freedom of opinions. Satire can be truthful, funny, and hurtful. France has a history of using cartoons to protest and provoke. It is an integral part of their society.
No one should fear losing his/her life for speaking out or for poking fun at anything. When extremists attempt to police the ideas of others, it is time for us to show our solidarity.
"JeSuis Charlie" - I am Charlie. The point of free speech is that they have the right to express themselves. I grew up with the mantra, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I stand in solidarity with all journalists, cartoonists, and social commentators threatened with violence or attacked by captious fanatics. They cannot stop us.
|By French Ilustrator Lucille Clerc|
“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” –Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier (1967 – 2015), publisher, Charlie Hebdo.