By Arnaud Favry (RC)
The terrorist attack against the magazine Charlie Hebdo on January seventh rightfully brings shock, consternation and indignation, much as did recent atrocities in Sydney, in Pakistan, and in too many other places.
This was not just an attack against journalists, Parisians or French people. France’s laws on laicity, which ostracize religion from the public space, and its peoples’ historical irreverence towards bigotry and institutional spirituality may shock some. So be it. This is how we have been fighting for freedom of speech for hundreds of years, and how we have pushed back ignorance and fear of the Other at the doorstep of our Republic. This was an attack on this mode of fighting for free speech.
This attack touches all of us because it horribly silenced and took away the lives of educated, world-travelled and respected humanists who have been doing nothing more than expressing their ideas and opinions on the world.
Oh I have disagreed with this newspaper, being as it is extremely liberal and tied to the French far-left. I believe them questionably funny andl and offensive for no reason. Insisting on publishing caricatures of Muhammad has brought the journalists of Charlie Hebdo continuous death threats from Islamist radicals, which dramatically crystallized on January seven.
If we are going to be leaders one day, we will need the freedom of speech that these journalists defended and died for. All of us have the obligation to be irreverent: irreverence towards the establishment and uncensored humor are incredibly powerful tools for debate. And, in the end, they bring change to society.
I prefer to be rude and stand up than to be polite and kneel. Outspoken jerks have more often changed the world than polite bigots.
We are all Charlie.