A Deafening Silence – Je Suis Charlie

Gunshots, chaos, 12 people dead – a massacre dawned without even giving the first week of the year a chance to finish its course. Now there are already more corpses to mourn than days spent in 2015.

When we said we wanted to start 2015 “with a bang”, I believe I speak for the majority when I say that we definitely did NOT mean gunshots nor a terrorist attack.

(For those who are still unaware of the news, kindly refer to this link and for those who are unfamiliar with the victim, Charlie Hebdo, just click the name.)

Summarily, the bloodshed was triggered by a few drawings, Charlie Hebdo being a rather satirical printing press. Despite claiming to ‘attack everyone equally’ in their magazine, the cartoons they publish are often intentionally anti-Islam, some even sexist and homophobic.

But hey, doesn’t Freedom of Speech under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights render Charlie Hebdo a right to express what they want to say? Doesn’t that make them, technically, innocent? I think it does. But obviously the terrorists didn’t.

They didn’t like the song Charlie was playing and so they took the obligation to implement silence. But if silence was truly their motive, I dare say how great they failed to bring it forth. They only managed to change the song, but not turn off the music– and what a terrible song they replaced Charlie‘s shout; what a steep price Charlie payed for something that was, after all, supposedly free.

Defiantly defending those disrespectful and provoking cartoons (specifically the one featuring the Muslim’s Prophet Muhammad), Stephane Charbonnier or “Charb“, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he told the Associated Press in 2012, after the Hebdo’s offices had been fire-bombed. “I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law.”

Similarly tragic, neither do the terrorists abide by the same law as Charb and the people of Charlie Hebdo do; nor is the Freedom of Speech sacred to them. So, there we have it. Returning fire, revenge– one horrid thing begets another. For what, to avenge? To dignify the offended?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think all we got are more corpses from both sides and a lot more contention adding to the heap of already existing ones.

If you ask me, I actually don’t like either of what I’m hearing. I don’t like the sound of anything sardonic, sexist and racist, nor do I like the sound of rageous gunshots and bloody cries of human misery answering back in retaliation. I’m not siding with the terrorists when I truthfully say that those cartoons are really vulgar and offensive, thus making the staff of Charlie deserving of their ill fate. Neither am I siding with Charlie when I say that a terrorist attack is simply abominable.

My thoughts and sentiments couldn’t agree more with Jacob Canfield of Hooded Utilitarian when he said, “The fact that twelve people are dead over cartoons is hateful, and I can only pray that their attackers are brought to justice. Free speech is an important part of our society, but, it should always go without saying, free speech does not mean freedom from criticism. Criticism IS speech – to honor “free speech martyrs” by shouting down any criticism of their work is both ironic and depressing.”

Let me repeat the words of George R.R. Martin and Alan Dershowitz with emphasis: (George) “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar; you are only telling the world you fear what he has to say.” and (Alan) “Being offended by Freedom of Speech should never be regarded as a justification for violence.”

Nothing ever (and I mean EVER) justifies murder– much less a massacre.

I was raised not to be judgmental (or I at least try not to be vocal about it), but in my opinion (crossing my fingers I don’t get shot for it…) the journalists of Charlie Hebdo are braver than their attackers.

What makes me say this? Because at least they were brave enough to fiercely express their thoughts and stand up for their beliefs, no matter how twisted their ideals may seem to others. Unlike people who hide behind the ugliness of guns and weapons as ugly as such to face their opponents. Coward and immature enough to combat pens with guns. Weren’t they informed that pens are the ones used for writing, not guns? If only they knew, would they insist in writing their statement in blood?

I grieve for more than just corpses; I grieve for the courage and fighting spirits that were lost along those cold, pale, unresponsive bodies… And the uproar of my grief couldn’t be more distinct in this deafening silence.

(Disclaimer: photo not mine, credits to owner/s.)

(Disclaimer: photo not mine, credits to owner/s.)


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