On Jan. 7 of this year, two Islamic assailants walked into the office of French satire paper “Charlie Hebdo” and killed members of the editorial and cartoonist staff. The publication was known for its controversial covers featuring images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad among other figures like a Prime Minister candidate for France.
While I think any act of terror or killing of innocents is deplorable and awful, this specific attack hit close to home in a sense. I may not be a full-time journalist or satirist, but I do take pride in the content I turn in week after week. I also like to think there is an unspoken bond between most journalists because of the pride we take in our craft. Even though The Oracle has never published anything as controversial as Charlie Hebdo that still doesn’t mean I haven’t made a person or two angry by asking one too many questions or by calling and emailing relentlessly trying to get answers.
My writing pales in comparison to Charlie Hebdo, a publication similar to The Onion that merely aims to entertain and be an equal-opportunity offender. I don’t think they or any publication should have to go out of its way to make people mad, but at the same time readers and the population in general shouldn’t be so easily offended. But I could have a clouded opinion on this particular subject, however, as I do no identify with the Islamic faith, so seeing a picture of Muhammad has little effect on me.
This attack made me realize a couple things about myself and the world around me. For starters it seems that almost no matter what you do (in this case writing and drawing) is going to offend someone. That could just be a sign of the times. Perhaps more people are getting easily offended because they’re more passionate about their religion or beliefs. While there’s nothing wrong with being strong in your own convictions, in a world with seven billion people, there’s a good chance you will go against what someone else believes in, even if it’s an accident. While I hope this isn’t the direction the world is heading, it’s hard to ignore the religious attacks or the outcry of people who get offended over something that wouldn’t normally rile them up in such a way.
Another thing the Charlie Hebdo attacks showed me is that I shouldn’t be afraid to write about anything. Not only as a journalist, but also just as a person in general. This can be extended to everyone. No one should have to write within the boundaries set by other people, especially journalists. Granted Charlie Hebdo isn’t real news, it still takes skill to write about the news in a satirical light and they, nor anyone else, should not have to censor themselves just because they might make the wrong people angry.
I stick by the late Charlie Hebdo editor, Stephane Charbonnier and his quote, “… I prefer to die standing up than live on my knees.”