Why We Must Stand with Charlie Hebdo

Categories:  From the Editors    Opinion
Thursday, January 8th, 2015 at 5:41 PM
Why We Must Stand with Charlie Hebdo by The Editors

Charlie Hebdo -- as a satirical publication -- challenged the world to evaluate and consider religion in different contexts and in ways perhaps we hadn’t thought to do before. Whether we agree or disagree with the publication’s expression, we -- if we truly believe that the freedom of press and freedom and speech are essential and vital to the progress of civilization -- must be willing to defend the right to such communication to the very ends of our being.

As Thomas Paine once wrote, “An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.” Freedom of expression and freedom of the press penetrate our collective subconscious to inform, influence, and challenge our perception of the world around us, both near and abroad. Terrorism is a knee-jerk response; the response to it -- one of reason, vision, and a reinvigorated commitment to free expression -- must be persistent and unwavering in the endeavor to deepen our understanding of the human condition by disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed with rhetoric, not rage.

While we cannot control the actions of others, we can -- and must -- be measured in the controlling of our own reaction. We cannot be fearful in the sharing of facts and opinions meant to spur consideration, contemplation, and conversation, because we must continue to truly believe that all humans possess the right to think, speak, and express themselves freely. We must not allow criticism and commentary to be met with violence. Journalism -- thoughtful, provocative journalism -- as an institution endeavors to create dialogue and an exchange of ideas, not gunfire.

As an alternative publication employing a local cartoonist, we appreciate this form of commentary and know the imperative role his work plays in the furthering of ideas and opinions. Now, more than ever, we must stand by our principles that the freedom of expression and the freedom of press are ideals that cannot succumb to terrorism. If we are shocked, frightened, or bullied into altering our approach to news, arts, and culture by the hand of violence, we will not only have allowed terrorism to win the day, we will have ultimately sent a clear message that expression and press can be censored by the presence of violence, real or perceived.

To which we say: Je Suis Charlie.

Erie Reader: Vol. 7, No. 15
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