I’ve watched over the last couple days as the (continuing) events unfolded in Paris and other nearby areas of France. I’m heartbroken for the French people and saddened that something as stupid and silly as a picture could become a death sentence for someone. I’ve seen the videos, read countless articles about what is going on over there, and spent hours scouring different online outlets for information. I feel like I’m in shock, because for me, Paris is the city of love. I can’t wrap my head around how this could happen there. To an extent, I feel a lot like I did as a pre-teen when 9/11 happened in New York City.
I may not have ever stepped foot in either of these cities, but they are cultural icons. They represent things to me and others, and when something so horrific happens there, it feels like we lose a part of ourselves because the idyllic image we have of those places becomes a shattered pile of dashed expectations. I think I hate this part of terrorist attacks more than the others. I hate getting cold, hard slaps of reality like that. I’d rather stay wrapped in my own beautiful imagination of something, someone, or someplace without things like this happening.
I don’t know how many of you have taken the time to watch the video of the attackers killing the police officer at the Charlie Hebdo offices, but it shook me up so badly. The article attached to the video had done a sufficient job of explaining the video before I watched it, but the execution still took me off guard, and I nearly screamed when it happened. I can’t imagine how the people who shot the video managed to stay quiet. I feel for the Parisians because they have no idea what to expect, now.
I wanted to take a moment to speak about freedom of expression, though. Charlie Hebdo represents the good, the bad, and the ugly of this concept, but no matter how much you may dislike what is printed in their paper, you have to respect their right to express their views as they see fit. That is part of living in our modern society. You don’t have to like what someone has to say, but they have just as much of a right to say what they say as you do to disagree with them. This is why the Westboro Baptist Church exists here in America. They may be the biggest assholes on the planet, but they have a right to their fucked up views just like you and I have a right to ours. Just because what they say insults us doesn’t make what they do illegal. This is the same idea with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
In solidarity with the French people, the Charlie Hebdo staff, and cartoonists the world over, I have collated a few cartoons related to this incident and am publishing them (with links to the original owners) below. Please consider doing the same. Let’s prove that terrorists cannot make us silent, and that no matter if we agree with what people say or not, we ALL agree they have a right to say it.
This cartoon, by Chappatte, was printed in “Le Temps,” a Geneva paper, on September 20, 2012. It can be found on the cartoonist’s site, as well.
This is another Chapatte cartoon, featured in the New York Times today, January 8, 2015, in reference to an interview with Charlie Hebdo editor, Stephane Charbonnier.
This cartoon was posted by a Danish newspaper, europenews.dk.
A Steve Bell cartoon that was featured in The Guardian on January 7, 2015, sums up just how ridiculous some of us feel these terrorists are.