On Wednesday, the 7th of January, 12 people were executed in Paris by two gunmen. The mass of the killings happened in the rage through the conference meeting of the Charlie Hebdo satirical journal that morning where another 11 were left wounded. Chaos pursued in France with similar hostage crises and attacks in a supermarket the next day.
The night of the initial terrorist attack, thousands gathered in Place de la Republique for a vigil, where pens and paper were waved in the air. This tragedy was not the destruction of a journal due to a comic strip, it was an attack on the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. Since then, groups of thousands around the world have gathered saying, “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).
A London student from Paris, Alice Blanc, spoke to ABC from the London crowd: “No matter what a journalist or magazine has to say, even if it is not what the majority of people think, they still have the right to say it without feeling in danger, which is the case today.”
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We live in a world where news made by civilian journalists – giving each person the freedom to express their views and concerns on real world issues at the touch of an iPhone or a keypad. The issue at hand today is dealing with this freedom, where those offended by the willingness of others to express their own individual viewpoint have given themselves the right to kill.
If any man, woman, or child would find themselves in danger by words on a screen something would change. Not by the force of a gun but by the will of a people. Give respect where respect is due, and give attention where you find best. Regardless, if anyone has the fear to put those words up for the world to see due to physical violence, a post that could cause life or death scenarios, that is where the real danger is.
A censored world is not one beneficial for progress and transparency. The views of all people must be represented, whether their following is of but one or of thousands. The act of writing and drawing to share with the world one’s own personal experience and viewpoint is a right, not a privilege to those who have believe only they know how to hold a pen.
Let us not forget the tragedy of this day in Paris, and move forward with our pens and paper in hand.
Je suis Charlie.