Charlie Hebdo and free expression

Time to get serious.

The world is reeling from the murders in Paris this week. Twelve people, including journalists and policemen, were murdered by Muslim terrorists. Why were these people killed? Because the journalists at the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo dared to express views these terrorists deemed unacceptable. Specifically, they criticized — and mocked — Muhammed.

This got these twelve humans killed.

Stephane Charbonnier, pictured below with one of the offending images, was the editor of Charlie Hebdo. He was among those murdered. He’d received death threats for daring to express himself. And his response?

CharlieHebdo_19092012_0

“I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”

I can’t express the rage I feel regarding the animals who murdered Charbonnier and the eleven others. I have no respect for their values.

This tragedy has only reinforced one of my core beliefs: the freedom of expression. As a writer, I wholeheartedly believe in the God-given human right to express myself freely. I believe that the dignity of the individual takes precedence over groupthink, and I want to live in a society where everyone is allowed to express themselves (as long as they’re not openly inciting violence).

Don’t get me wrong — there are scores of examples of speech and actions I personally find offensive. The Kardashians, for instance, or anything Madonna has said and done in the past decade. And then there’s Eli Roth’s torture porn Hostel movies.

But if I am offended, I change the channel, or leave the web page. I don’t murder people. I understand that some people cherish their beliefs, and are hurt when they are mocked, but I will not submit to violence or intimidation.

I am thankful I live in a society where freedom of expression is an accepted—if not constantly debated—value. I don’t enjoy mocking someone’s beliefs for the sake of shock alone. But the world needs to understand that violence isn’t acceptable. These images need to be shared widely so their threatening power will be diluted.

These are just a couple of images that were worth killing over. If this is what your god demands of you, I will never understand your god.

Charlie-Hebdo

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