He Drew First: For the Charlie Hebdo Team
We seem to be living at a time where we get used to hearing of violence and atrocities every day. But recent events have escalated to a point that breaks through that numb pain that we erect around ourselves when we here of such atrocities. The treatment of civilians captured by ISIS shows that even aid workers helping the victims of these conflicts now constitute a legitimate target, merely as a way of taunting their opponents. The school killings at Peshawar showed that the children of those serving in the countries armed forces will also be targeted and yesterdays shootings in Paris show that now the very right to comment and criticize is being eradicated.
As a journalist and social commentator, I find this last action particularly worrying, precedents had already been set by certain attitudes towards cartoons by Danish cartoonists a few years ago but no one could have predicted the attack on an office full of journalists and political satirists for mere opinion.
Firstly we have to understand that, like all terror groups, these people do not represent the majority of the faith that they claim to represent and large condemnations by Muslims around the world show this to be true. They are likely to be disenfranchised people with nothing to loose who when they see something that they don’t agree with fight back not with thought and opinion, word and artistic response but with violence.
All religions holy works and creation stories are built on an element of trial over adversity, of succeeding in the face of ridicule, over being tested by outside powers, it has always been so and will always remain. Those who can’t stand against such outside criticisms are denying the basic beliefs of their religion.
Freedom of speech, within the realms of non-incitement to violence, freedom of opinion, freedom to criticize through word and image are the basic tenets of civilization and that is what these people died for. Let us not forget them and let us prove that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Image Credit » personal photograph