January 7th 2015
Today twelve people were killed in Paris by gunmen. Now don’t expect me to write a blog every time a group of innocent people are slaughtered for no reason, because quite frankly I don’t have the time to blog twenty four hours a day, but today I wanted to talk about this one. And I don’t want to talk about the gunmen, the religion or the politics behind why it happened. I want to talk about the reaction to to it.
I’m not educated enough on the situation to know exactly why a group of men decided that what they had to do was walk up to twelve innocent people and shoot them dead, I don’t think anyone quite knows why someone could have that mindset. Maybe the shooters themselves didn’t even know. As far as is my understanding, the main cause of this travesty was because a magazine posted something that offended someone. They posted something that someone else didn’t like. They posted something that got a reaction out of someone.
A very, very small and isolated minority of people didn’t like a certain publication that the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, had posted. And that was how they reacted. With murder.
One of the wonderful things about the modern age is just how free your speech is. You can express yourself in anyway you want, be it through poem, or song, or interpretive dance, or a novel, a painting, a blog or a tweet. You can say what you want where you want. As long as no one gets offended, right?
Twitter amazed me today. Twitter was how I found out about what was happening in Paris, I started seeing retweets of News stations reporting on what was going on, to begin with it was in French, and then English and international papers started reporting it as well. But I already knew what was happening because everyone was talking about it. And then everyone started reacting to it. And it was mind-blowing.
Now I started seeing photos of tens of thousands of Parisiens gathered in the streets with lights flashing the slogan “Not Afraid” and then the tributes started coming. The first one I saw was from an Australian comic artist who had heard the news just before he was going to bed. It kept him up. He posted this.
I think that picture is incredible. Not only is it well drawn, but it comments on what happened not by passing judgement, or accusations, or inciting hatred, it is just pointing out how ludicrous it is that people were killed because someone drew a picture that someone else didn’t like.
In this picture, the guy with the gun is of no discernible race, or ethnic origin, and the same can be said for the fallen victim, the artist hasn’t made it about that. Just as I’m trying not to. And the best part of this comic is that it is a big middle finger to whomever thinks they can decide what someone can or cannot draw, can or cannot write.
The reason this happened was because of a satirical cartoon made about a group of people. And a tiny, tiny portion of that group of people took offence. Heck, probably a fair few took offence, but only that tiny portion reacted. And then after they had reacted how they chose to, how did the rest of the world react? Did they think “Oh no, they’re taking away our free speech. They’re taking away our right to publish what we want.”? Of course they didn’t. They didn’t roll over and put their pencils down, instead they did the opposite. They picked their pencils up, and they stood up and walked out of their house, and they got #JeSuisCharlie trending on twitter so the people of Paris knew they weren’t alone.
You can break our pencils in half, but that just leaves us with twice the amount of pencils. That means that someone else can pick it up and write what they want to write, draw what they want to draw. Just as long as it doesn’t offend anyone, right?
Until tomorrow, je suis Charlie.