Using the pen to beat back the sword

Last week, the terrorists tried again. They tried to silence the voices they did not understand, did not agree with and therefore insisted were wrong and dangerous.

Last week’s attacks against Charlie Hebdo in Paris, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen journalists, police officers and civilians, hurts anyone and everyone who has ever picked up a pen, a camera or put fingers to keyboard in an attempt to express any opinion.

Last week’s show of unity and strength among readers, writers, publishers and everyday people around the world who never read the targeted satirical publication was a message beyond “Je suis Charlie” and “Not Afraid.” It means we can and will read what we want, when we want and make fun of you while we do it. Everyone is fair game, anyone is a target when it comes to satire. We talk a big game when it comes to political correctness, and while we seem to be easily insulted by the smallest racial, ethnic or disability slight, we also get a real howl out of the humor that forms as a result of dark tragedy and suffering. There’s no sense to what’s funny, sometimes.

And there’s no making sense of what happened last week in Paris, just as there is no sense in the loss of 1,084 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1995. There’s no making sense of the fact that number represents one-fifth of my town’s entire population. Those were loved and respected people, with families, friends, interests, hobbies and lives outside the newsroom and beyond the sound bite. Just like there is no sense in dishonoring them, and their Parisian colleagues, by failing to stand up to the savagery disguised as religion but in reality a just-out-of-reach execution squad, capable of inflicting death at will, eluding capture and either unable or unwilling to consider that any way of thinking other than their own could possibly be legitimate.

Support the staff at Charlie Hebdo. Buy the publication, if you can find one of the three million copies slated to come out in this week’s run. Buy it even if you cannot read French, Italian or Turkish, the languages of the print edition. Or take a look at the digital version, which will also be available in English, Spanish and Arabic. And remember that you get to read this, and we get to write this, on this platform, without fear of reprisal. For many journalists, the right to speak their minds even one time is one time too many to ensure their survival.

An opinion well-expressed is never expressed in vain.

An opinion well-expressed is never expressed in vain.



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Filed under death, Murder, Violence

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