The numerous repercussions of the terrorist shooting in France last week, setting out a lot of positive response from the general world population, but also quite a few “Je ne suis pas Charlie” (I am not Charlie) responses.
I want to say two things here. First of all, that we are all Charlie; the result of freedom of expression should not and must never be retaliation. Even if we don’t like what someone says, or if we do, the retaliation to the free press, violent or not, is never OK. Mostly because the freedom to say what we feel must never be compromised by fear of retaliation and also because that freedom is what might become revolution; because it goes both ways, for when we hear something we don’t like and when we say something someone else might not like. So if murder is the result of what they said, what makes us think that someday it might not be the result of what we say? And we have the right to not be afraid of saying it; or we should. Because now they don’t like what’s said about the Muslim and later, they might not like what we write about gay, science fiction or whatever literature it is we produce and read freely. And then what?
The second thing is the argument behind the “Je ne suis pas Charlie” articles. I’ve read a lot, so I’ll focus on some of the disturbing arguments arbitrarily. Many of them rely on the “They must have done something” plea. That is the equivalent of saying that a girl was raped because she was wearing a too short skirt, or any other blame-the-victim arguments. We all know that’s empty and vicious. I’ve also read some “I don’t condone the shooting, but”. The problem with the ‘but’ is that the justification, even if it’s not condoned, makes it look like even if the methods are wrong, the reasons have meaning; and, again, there is no meaning in inciting fear to those who speak freely. In the midst of these justifications, I’ve read something in the lines of “the Muslim are now the Jews of 21st century Europe” which is hilarious in a disturbing kind of way; mostly because it’s an amazingly undercover way of anti-Judaism: Jews in the 21st century weren’t setting up bombs, planning suicide attacks, shooting/killing anyone that wasn’t an old testament follower and said it publicly, etc. but getting insulted, their schools bombed, their synagogues and cemeteries desecrated, etc. So I really don’t see the parallel here.
Bottom line, Charlie Hebdo did politically incorrect humor, making fun of everything and anything. They made ridicule of prejudice. And even if it was (and I’m not saying it was, at all, but EVEN IF) offensive and wrong, they should have the right to say it and not be retaliated against and in the end, get killed for it.
So what do we do to stop it, you might ask? I don’t know; the only thing I can think of is that you might be able to shut up a few people, but you can’t shut the entire world, or even a big chunk of it. So let’s say it, once, twice, as many times as necessary: We are not afraid and we are all Charlie. And let’s keep writing and making use of freedom of speech, so NO ONE can stop us from saying, writing, reading. So NO ONE can stop us from being ourselves. So their freedom ends, when ours begin.