As editors of a publication, we have the right to publish our thoughts and stances. We have received numerous hate mail, demands to take down stories online but what protects us and every other publication in this country is the right to freedom of speech and press. However much you disagree with our words, we have the right to say them just as you do.
We as a country are not alone in the idea that every human has the basic right to speak what they feel. According to The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of France, “The free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely, save [if it is necessary] to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law.”
Unfortunately, three masked gunmen thought differently yesterday in Paris by storming the offices of French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo, and killing 12 people, eight of which were journalists as well as two policemen. These journalists were slain for their opinion and not only had their lives ripped away from it, but their rights as well.
Four years earlier, the publication’s offices were firebombed by radical Islams for publishing a comic mocking the Prophet Muhammad, an act of blasphemy.
Charlie Hebdo’s editor and original founders Stephane Charbonnier spoke out against the firebombing by saying, “If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying,” Charbonnier said at the time. “This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won’t let it get to us.”
Charbonnier was one of the 12 killed in yesterday’s attacks. If he was not however, we believe that his opinion would still hold true.
Charlie Hebdo hasn’t just targeted Islamic cultures.
The publication has focused on the political right wing, capitalism, Christianity and Judaism in the past. Satirical illustrations are a way to demonstrate a moral or political stance through the use of critical humor. A good comic will make you laugh, a great will make you ask why it’s funny.
As readers, writers and artists stand together in mourning around the world, we as a media outlet must exercise our right and stand by it. For if we do not, if we live in fear, the attacker’s message reigns louder than our own, thus muffling our voice altogether.