Strike aimed to silence? We say Je suis Charlie

We at the Citizen, like everyone in the journalism community, were shocked and horrified by the brutal murders of 12 people at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.

This is not just a strike against one publication, it is a strike against freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression in general.

The two cowardly gunmen and their associates are not heroes or martyrs.

They are nothing more than criminals who hid behind masks as they went on their rampage in an attempt to force us all to accept their own skewed extremism, which can’t even tolerate the challenge of a few lines drawn on paper.

It is not about religion. It is about violence and terror. Whoever’s name they claim to be doing it in means little. Extremists and zealots of all stripes are all the same under the dress-up of whatever cause they claim to represent.

In reality, it is about the coveting of power, and the attempt to take it by force.

And fear that their twisted ideologies won’t stand the bright light of clear thinking or heartfelt belief, let alone a real debate or discussion.

Poking fun at a religion, any religion, is a right all of us share, just as it is our right to poke at power in any form.

Whether the result is genuinely funny, genuinely funny to only a few, or genuinely offensive to a few or many doesn’t negate the right to express those views.

Think about where we would be if nobody ever questioned power.

That is traditionally one of the duties of the news media.

The gunmen on Wednesday tried to silence that questioning.

It comes down to the fact that no cartoon could ever be justification enough to kill.

Even in cases of hate speech or threats where we, as a society, do curtail the traditional rights of free speech to a certain extent, the penalty isn’t death.

By and large we cherish the right to say what we think about whatever subject we choose.

How will I know you, and you know me, if we don’t exchange ideas?

How will I convince you if you are dead?

So today, and always, Je suis Charlie.

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