Over the days since the horrific events in Paris I have seen many people commenting how they won’t say “Je Suis Charlie” because they found the cartoons offensive. Everyone is clear that they don’t condone the attack, but some are trying to separate their condemnation of the attack from the support of the magazine. This is sad, and a mistake.
When I say “Je Suis Charlie” I am not saying I agree with the sentiments of all of their cartoons. Hell, I have only seen a handful so I am not about to comment on decades worth of material. What I am saying is that I agree they should have the right to publish these cartoons without fearing for their life. That is what free speech is. The idea that many smart people have turned this disgusting act of terror into a discussion on the content is terrifying. It is victim blaming. It is no different than telling a rape victim that you are sorry they got raped, but maybe they should not have worn such a short skirt. We are better than this, at least we should be.
In the United States we have our hate groups who like to garner attention. One group that comes to mind is the Westboro Baptist Church, aka the “God Hates Fags” group. They have picketed military funerals with their disgusting signs, and have tried to spread hate all around the United States. What they say is disgusting, but if they were ever arrested or executed in a similar way to the Paris event for their writings I would be the first in line to defend them. I hope you would be too. That is what “Je Suis Charlie” means.
Fight speech with speech. Fight ideas with ideas. Just remember that everything you say or write will offend someone in this large and diverse world we live in. That does not mean you should not say it. That also does not mean that others should stay silent if they disagree. Either way, when tragic events happen in Paris or anywhere else in the world we need to stop trying to blame the victims. Each time you take time out from discussing the murder to talk about the content of a cartoon you start to peel the blame off the thugs that did this.
JE SUIS CHARLIE