It was not long though, before my shock turned into the determination to join my colleagues in speaking out against the attacks.
It’s the 21st century, but cartoonists are being murdered by people who are living in centuries past. It’s not a left versus right issue; many of my liberal colleagues didn’t support the Danish cartoonists free speech rights and felt that publishing the Mohammed cartoons was wrong. There was much debate about whether the cartoonists had somehow “crossed the line” of good taste and if offensive cartoons should be drawn at all. Of course, no one could name everything which should be on this grand list of offensive images; what is offensive to one person or group isn’t the same for another.
Free speech has to be absolute. If society starts to put limits on what can be said or drawn, it creates an environment where people feel they are justified to act violently against anything they deem offensive to their beliefs, religion, culture, or whatever else.
This isn’t the first time cartoonists have been targeted for their work. The Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) website regularly monitors the cases of cartoonists who are threatened, imprisoned, attacked, and killed for what they draw. Yesterday’s attack brutally ended the lives of four of our own, a huge blow for our fairly small community.
If there’s any good which comes from this tragedy, it’s that the world seems to finally have taken notice. Cartoonists have been described a a barometer for all free speech rights; a silenced cartoonist is an indicator of an unhealthy environment for freedom of expression in any given society. If they’re killing cartoonists, journalists, writers, and citizens could be next.
Je suis Charlie; I am Charlie. We all must support the freedom of expression Charlie Hebdo represents.