I know this is far from my usual faire. Normally I entertain with tales of war and adventure. But tonight that’s far from my mind. Tonight I’m shaken by the horrendous attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the murder of journalists and cartoonists. So much of the conflicts I study began because of bullies. People who wanted to force their ideas of what was right on other people. People who believed they had moral imperative as they did it.
Today that happened again when Islamic extremists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo and slaughtered 12 innocent people and wounded many more. Charlie Hebdo was a satiric magazine which exercised their right to poke fun at everyone- white, black, catholic, jewish, right, left, popes and presidents- it didn’t matter. Sometimes funny, sometimes tasteless, our ancestors fought for the privilege of Charlie Hebdo and its editors to print whatever they chose.
But what is even sadder is that the large news outlets are censoring the very pictures which Charlie Hebdo published. They don’t want to publish anything racially or religiously insensitive. Or… Perhaps they are just too afraid of the school bully to do anything but hide at their end of the playground and hope he goes away.
Stephane Charbonnier, editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo, was a brave man. He was as brave as any soldier I have studied. He once said that he wasn’t afraid because drawings never killed anyone. He was was stalked, firebombed and eventually murdered. I believe he was nothing less than a martyr to all the freedoms we hold dear.
To the news agencies who tout his murder but who do not have the intestinal fortitude to publish the pictures he gave his life for? Ladies and Gentlemen, I call you cowards. This man was a journalist. You are a pale imitation. He represented everything you profess to love, and you do not have the decency to show his work. You should be ashamed of your pixellations and tight crops. You don’t want to offend the people who hurt and hounded this man? Where is your offence? Where is your outrage? It is for the very slaughter of Stephane Charbonnier and the people at Charlie Hebdo that you should stand shoulder to shoulder, united across companies and countries and publish those pictures. When will you say, “We stand with the right of a free press to publish satire! We will no longer be cowed by bullies.”
This attack on our most basic freedom of speech cannot stand. It has not been the path of the west to lay down as rights and freedoms were impugned. For 100 years, the western media has mocked tyrants from Kaiser Wilhelm to Adolf Hitler to Saddam Hussein to the Kims of North Korea. In fact, they still haul out Hitler at almost every opportunity. But Hitler is a paper tiger. He’s long dead and even the dust has blown away.Neither he nor his followers are around to be offended. Apparently modern media is too afraid of the new scourge on the school yard to stand up for those who have fallen.
I know I’m just a blogger, but… to Stephane Charbonnier and the people of Charlie Hebdo…. I’m not afraid! I will not be intimidated. I will learn from your courage. I will publish your work.