As a disclaimer, I want to say that I realize this is a very difficult subject, with a lot of gray areas. Because France is an entirely different culture than America, I’m sure there are things I’m misunderstanding with regards to content published in Charlie Hebdo. The recent events in France are heartbreaking, and they are not what I’m writing about today. Instead, I am writing to make the point that cruelty should not be misunderstood as heroism, regardless of the name given to it.
This post has been edited since its original form to reflect information about which I was corrected.
Last week, the world stopped for a few hours when a popular magazine in France – Charlie Hebdo – was attacked. Since then, most of France’s allies have rallied (I say most because here in America, it only just occurred to us that maybe we should head over and help our friends out right about now), as has much of the rest of the world to support the country and, more specifically, the magazine. The attack is one problem in a small series of them which ultimately, is resulting in increased police and military activity throughout major cities and surrounding well-known landmarks.
Ultimately though, that’s not what I want to talk about today. My opinion on terrorism should be a given more than anything, because who needs to be asked that question? Who would disagree that it remains one of the worst crimes perpetrated against humankind and which, once experienced, never quite goes away?
Instead, what I want to talk about is the magazine targeted, and the world’s reaction to that magazine post-attack. First though, I want to explain that this is a horrifying event that I can’t even begin to understand. As someone who can hardly understand war, acts of terrorism are absolutely beyond my comprehension, and I can’t even begin to imagine the grief French citizens are experiencing right now.
That said, I think it’s important that we recognize what Charlie Hebdo was: an exceedingly cruel “joke” masked as free speech, something which I condemned in my post on Monday, and which I’ll say again now.
Tweet: The rights to free speech and press don’t entitle you to treat people with cruelty. http://ctt.ec/_pLIa+
While the attacks in France are unimaginable, it is also unimaginable to me that one would choose to make their career out of demonizing someone based solely on their beliefs or for that matter, on anything. Why spending your days imagining new ways to target the same group of people who have already been targeted more than anyone should have to endure seems ideal or courageous.
Since the attacks last week, the Internet has swelled with support for a magazine that has spent years paying its dues by treating people with disrespect based solely on their religious beliefs. While I recognize the rights to free speech and press as being two of the greatest rights we’ve been given, and ones which we cannot take for granted or dismiss, I also recognize that as human beings we should see a limit to those rights. A line we will not cross, despite the realization that we can.
I cannot applaud the writers of Charlie Hebdo for their continued efforts or their cruel “jokes” because what they’re doing isn’t a joke and isn’t easily forgotten for those being targeted. Because without our ever realizing it, thousands of people take the covers of Charlie Hebdo and other similar media representations to heart, an excuse to prosecute and condemn those people being targeted.