Monday, January 12, 2015

What is Charlie Hebdo, and Why Should I Care?

If you haven't been paying attention, we'll fill you in: On Wednesday, January 7, 2015, gunmen went to the offices of a newspaper in France called Charlie Hebdo and shot and killed 12 people.

Why these victims? They were artists who drew political cartoons. A political cartoon is created to make a statement about something happening recently, to express an opinion and incite discussion. It is a matter of ink put on paper, nothing more or less. It is meant to shock sometimes, to make people laugh, to realize the stupidity of situations.

Like this:

What do you think this means???
Is there ever an excuse to be so livid about a simple cartoon that you feel compelled to kill the person or people who drew it and published it?

And this, in response to the killings:

                                       It says, Why? Is this a bomb? A Kalashnikov (rifle)? a grenade?

Here is a timeline of the events:

The shooters, apparently, are terrorists who claimed during the shootings to be members of Al Qaeda.

The big question, of course, is: Why?

The terrorists informed the world that they were angry at the newspaper for publishing pictures or cartoons of Mohammed, their religious prophet.

What do you think of this?

There are legalities--the issues of whether one country has something similar to our Bill of Rights First Amendment, Freedom of Speech and the Press (See Triogenius from 12-19 and 1-5) but I think we would agree that killing someone because of a difference in philosophy, is beyond reason.

There are a number of things to debate: Is Al-Qaeda a religion? Is it political? Or does it simply fall into one category: Terrorism? In any case, does it justify killing people you don't agree with?

Jon Stewart says we are part of "Team Civilization" and we're not backing down:

Ever read "Mad" Magazine? Here is one of its editors with his take on the Charlie Hebdo killings:

As we see already, Charlie Hebdo is not closing up shop. In fact, it will be reopening Wednesday, and the presses will be rolling once again.  The expectation is that it will sell more than ever before, if only due to people buying it in support of their right to publish and defiance of terrorists who tried to stop it.

Typically, what is forbidden is usually the thing people want to do more than ever. Examples:

  • When liquor was banned during Prohibition, did it stop production of liquor? No. People concocted their own recipes and made it at home.

  • When the Bible was first published in smaller sized books, and especially in languages other than Latin, people did not avoid having their own copies. They bought the little versions and hid them away, holding secret meetings to discuss the Gospel, which was forbidden: Only religious leaders were supposed to know what was actually in the Bible.

  • So-called banned books became best-sellers.

                                "The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword"     -Edward Bulwer-Lytton 
 Notice how people are not only leaving flowers and candles, but pens and markers.

In French, "I Am Charlie" *


How do we show our unity with France, and indeed with the world, after an event like this?


Because I have First Amendment Rights, I'll express my thoughts right here:

  • We don't recognize terrorists as reasonable and understandable, because there is no reason and no understanding to murder.
  • The best way to say, "You aren't going to win," is to continue to draw, speak, write, and express any opinion you might have about anything.
  • We mourn with the French, and we share their outrage. We express our support, and we assure them the world does not agree with terrorists.
  • We speak out, loud and clear, on any issue that is important to us.
  • We also respect others if they disagree. Disagreements can lead to discussion. Discussion leads to understanding. Sometimes daring a discussion can be a very good thing.
Other cartoonists share their feelings about what happened:

*Note: The name of the newspaper was created by using Charlie for Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon written by Minnesotan Charles Schultz. "Hebdo" means weekly, as it is published weekly.

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