Je Suis Charlie


“I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there.

The jihadists spared me.”

Words from a journalist who survived the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. (NYT)

Words cannot aptly describe how sick I feel about the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, but I’m going to try to muddle through my own thoughts here.

Every time there is a mass shooting or act of extreme violence mentioned in the news, I immediately get angry and jump to “What can we do? What should have been in place to prevent this?”

And honestly, I am wrestling with those questions at the moment. There really wasn’t anything that could have been done to prevent the three shooters from entering that building…because no one could have seen that coming.

When there is an expectation of free speech, there is no need for armaments or increased security. For God sakes, it was a satirical magazine!

And what could be put in place to prevent something like this again from happening?

Are we going to guard up all of our newspaper offices? Maybe.

Are we going to censor ourselves in fear of being punished? No. Not at all. We cannot.

I think the Washington Post Editorial Board puts it quite clearly:

“Equally important is that media across the West refuse to be cowed by violence. The attack in Paris comes after a year in which two U.S. journalists who traveled to Syria were beheaded by the Islamic State and theaters across the country refused to screen a movie lampooning North Korea because of the threat of violence. Such acts cannot be allowed to inspire more self-censorship — or restrict robust coverage and criticism of Islamic extremism.” (WaPo)

We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied.

Over the past few months, it has been incredibly inspiring to see people stand in solidarity for their rights and to support one another. Just when there seems to be a major blow, people have the propensity to stand up in strength rather than to crumble and fade. That decision to stand up is what makes the difference.

The extremists can try their cowardly violent attacks, but no matter how hard they hit, those who stand for freedom, justice and life will only be strengthened. Freedom isn’t won by sitting down and taking it.

These are some of the Charlie Hebdo’s Cartoons.

Now the conversation begins: should publications duplicate the cartoons? Where does one draw the line? Is it worth publishing? There isn’t a simple answer. Each publication is seemingly making that decision independently.

I can only imagine that communities may be further divided…hatred may take root and grow stronger for those affected and those who already held prejudice in their hearts.

It seems like this is happening all over the world all at the same time.

While the Charlie Hebdo’s content was often brazen and teetering on hateful, it had the right to be published…perhaps even more so. When things aren’t published for the rise it could get out of people, that’s still censorship.

I don’t like what the magazine has published on Christianity, as a believer myself, it upsets me at times. But here’s the difference: I know it’s satire. It’s supposed to make one think. It’s supposed to provoke. I just have to shake my head at it because it’s so ludicrous.

I realize I have a limited point of view here, but the publication’s stance on my religion does not dictate how I believe or how others believe. It’s the publication’s way of making a statement–a statement it has all the right to make. Whomever creates and publishes something deemed “blasphemous” will answer to God and God alone.

Sadly, as we saw this morning, that is not understood by all.

Did Charlie Hebdo bring it on themselves? Some people think so. But I think it is dangerous to go down that path.

No one deserves this tragedy.