A couple of weeks ago when the drama surrounding The Interview was going down, I was annoyed. While people were crying first amendment, I felt indifferent. Is a stupid comedy- mostly full of cheap, dirty humor- worth angering North Korea? It isn’t doing any good or educating. And didn’t they expect that? They were making fun of a dictator? Is that worth the risk?
But this morning, I woke up to news that 12 people were killed in a massacre at a French satire magazine. Suddenly I was reminded of the seriousness of free speech and the value of controversy and comedy to point out little nuggets of truth. Even in entertainment mediums, even in comedy, the value of free expression can be seen. But more than a movie, these journalists were discussing political and cultural issues.
Is this a terrorist attack? Yes. You can’t have a free country without free expression and the ability to debate. Some do this orally, some with written text and others with art. True this magazine was well versed in controversy and accustomed to a level of threat. But a person who physically threatens the life of people to silence them is a terrorist aside from any race, religion, creed or association. Anyone who response to the peaceful protest of a pen with the violence of a gun, is an extremist, an outlier and a misrepresentation of the majority.
I cannot take up arms against that sort of narrow-minded extremism, but I can do what the brave staffers of Charlie Hebdo dared to do. I can question. I can create. I can seek truth and express it through the art of words. I can engage in the same free expression that scares extremists so much.
Journalists do a job necessary to democracy and these victims will be remembered for that. I will remember them. And I will dare to lift my pen and allow others the same freedom, even if they disagree with me.
This Storify collects many of the tributes to the journalists of Charlie Hebdo with translations.