Je suis Charlie.
These three words–which translate as “I Am Charlie”–have become a global rally-cry after the recent terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. I admit that I had never heard of the magazine until now. After viewing some of their cartoons, which not only mock Mohammed but the Pope, Jesus Christ and assorted politicians, I wished I hadn’t.
Nevertheless, I will join the masses in saying, “Je suis Charlie.”
You see, I believe this attack on 12 people is an attack on all of us who cherish free speech, even if we find some of that expression reprehensible. Of course, vile words (and drawings) should have consequences on some level, but they should never involve being gunned down.
Radio talk show host Mike Gallagher commented that if you wave a red flag in front of a raging bull, you can expect to be gored. While this is sadly true now, it isn’t right–and it should change. To be fair, Gallagher has condemned the attacks, but people shouldn’t have to wonder if they are going to be mercilessly exterminated for making a joke, basting a politician or lampooning religion. Besides, where does it end? If you bow even slightly to fanatics, don’t be surprised when they demand you get on your knees.
I tweeted a few days ago that if being offended is cause for violence, then churches would host firebombing parties instead of potlucks. Christians are regularly mocked in the media, but when Bill Maher disgustedly tweeted this (WARNING: graphic language), Tim Tebow did not lead the Broncos to hurl Molotov cocktails at his car. Restraint has always been the mark of a mature believer. Even the Koran states that the God-fearing are those who suppress rage and forgive others. Some Muslims practice this; a growing number do not.
As commentator Stefan Kuzmany wrote, “…all of us who don’t want hate, all of us who detest violence, must stand together, no matter what might otherwise divide us.”
Je Suis Charlie.