As I'm sure you've all heard, twelve people were killed in Paris today as a result of the largest terrorist attack on French soil since 1961. I'm not sure what the response is like in the United States, but in Europe everyone is in mourning, even France's frenemy across the channel. Programmes have been cancelled, school has been delayed, and there is nothing but the grim and uneasy feeling of grief.
The shooting in downtown Paris came a day after the satirical magazine company Charlie Hebdo trended a cartoon of the leader of the Islamic State. Among those killed in the assault were four of the magazine's top cartoonists, as well as a chief editor and two police officers. Several others were wounded, and the gunmen have yet to be captured.
Perhaps most disturbing about this is the shooters' collective motive. This tragedy is a result of a perverted, hateful ideaology that has absolutely no place in the civilised world; a society in which offence is answered by violence and only ever violence is nothing more than a lifeless, subjugated society. This is a new kind of censoring of the press. No longer is it national governments curtailing the rights of journalists, but rather the painful omnipresence of fear. As French president Francois Hollande has said of this tragesty, it is nothing short of barbaric; the death of twelve men and women whose only crime was the publication of parody bordering but not exceeding the obscene, for the sole purpose of religious pride and zeal, is something reminiscent of the Inquisition or the Third Reich.
I couldn't help but think of the Interview, the recent American movie that spurred such an outrage among the people of North Korea that the country's leaders even threatened nuclear warfare. Of course, this was a mere threat and not an action. Nevertheless, it says something about our world; are we moving forward, or in retrospect? The phrase "to each his own", and the assurance of opinion without fear of consequence is dwindling in meaning and power. Suddenly, to offer your voice to the world, regardless of what words you speak or how you say them, is dangerous business. It is sadly unclear if the publication of this blog will warrant myself any death threats.
What can be done? Don't let the degenerates win. This sick notion of killing over petty offences and opinionated disagreements is the worst kind of killing, as it reminds us that such people still exist in the world – people that put clinging dignity and ego above love and respect for their fellow man. The best thing to do, and perhaps the only thing, is to not let such mindless murderers take control of our liberties. We must fight back, but not with gunfire. Let us continue to speak out and speak our mind, oblivious to any and all imminent fears. Let us pursue the freedoms granted to us, regardless of how many bullets may be fired. Let us prove once more that indeed the pen is mightier than the sword.
Je Suis Charlie.