|goeskaboom (goeskaboom) wrote,|
@ 2015-01-08 19:00:00
La Pelouse Se Tient Avec La France
Please excuse my bad Google Translate French for the title. I never took French- I took Spanish in middle and high school although never achieved fluency, and my second language is Japanese. But after the events of yesterday I felt it important to express my solidarity with the French people.
Here in America, sometimes it seems like we’ve become too accustomed to mass murders. A lot of the time, we turn on the news and go, “another one? Where was it this time? Oh, on the other side of the country? That’s awful but at least it’s not going to impact my life,” and we move on. But when something similar happens in another country, it can be even more shocking to us. We’re used to having shooting sprees in the US, and we expect things like this from some other countries- Nigeria and China seem to have similar events relatively commonly, and incidents like this seem to happen in parts of the Middle East almost daily. But when it happens in a country that we don’t usually hear of as being prone to this kind of thing. It’s very surprising when it happens in Europe, because if you believe our news media here, either nobody in Europe has any guns so how the hell are they going to go on a shooting spree, or that Europe is a lot more enlightened and progressive than we are, depending on what channel you watch or what blogs you read. But that’s really neither here nor there- what I want to talk about is the event that took place yesterday, where 12 people were murdered at a magazine headquarters.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not really saying that the cartoons published that incited the killers were tasteful or classy. Far from it. They were actually fairly offensive to the average person (well, in the US at least- I fully admit that I’ve never been to France and know very little about what French social norms are like.). However. Civilized people do not go around murdering other people who said something they found offensive. If we did that, humanity would die out, since pretty much everyone has, at one point or another, said something that offended someone else. That’s not the way that logical people do business, and fortunately. 99% of humanity falls into the category. Most people are not going to go on a homicidal rampage because they were offended, and thank god for that. But there is still that 1% that does drastic things in the name of whatever their ideology is. 1000-500 years ago, it was the Christian religion, with the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. 70 years ago, it was the Nazis, with the Holocaust. 50 years ago, it was the Communists, with the gulags and the killing fields. Today, unfortunately, it seems like there are more and more people willing to do these drastic things, and it’s not even limited to anything in particular. Some people blame Islam and Muslims, and given ISIS, 9/11, and yesterday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, it is easy to see why some people would think that. But let’s remember that people within recent memory have committed similar atrocities for other, completely unrelated reasons. Cho Seung-hui shot up Virginia Tech- he had no connection to Islam at all. Adam Lanza killed twenty elementary school students, same thing. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords survived an assassination attempt by a lone crazy person. The day before yesterday, there may even have been a racially motivated attack on a NAACP office in Colorado, although nothing is confirmed at this point in time. It is important to remember that there are people who are willing to murder other people for no reason, or very flimsy reasons, but most people are not like that. That goes for everyone. Most Muslims are reasonable, normal people who want to live their lives like everyone else.
That said. I am in no way excusing what happened at Charlie Hebdo. I condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms. Free speech is very important to me. It is one of the principles that my home country was founded on, and it’s something that I hold very dear to me. Being able to say what I want (well, within reason- can’t go around threatening to murder people) is a freedom that my family wouldn’t have had if they’d stayed in their country of origin. It is a fundamental human right that I consider extremely important. Even being able to write this blog is something that I wouldn’t be able to do without fear if I was in certain other places. An attack on free speech is an attack on humanity as a whole. Being able to discuss things freely without fear of government repercussions, or crazy people murdering us, is how our species will move forward in the future. We cannot give in to people who want to silence free expression and exchange, even if we find some of that expression distasteful or disgusting. As Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
It might be a good idea to begin to apply a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to expressing yourself, but in a perfect world, nobody would be murdered for what they say. While I’m not posting offensive caricatures, what if someone took offense to what I’ve written on my blog, either in this post, or in the past? Would I have to worry about being gunned down in my home or my workplace? What if I said something off the cuff to a friend, and someone overheard and got offended? Would that give that person the right to kill me? I sincerely hope not, because I like to think that, as a whole, we are better than that.
The main takeaway I wish to give to this post is that freedom of speech is important. So are your fellow humans. Do not allow justified anger to turn into attacks on innocent people who had nothing to do with the incident- it is a lesson we have learned the hard way in the United States. But also never forget that freedom of speech is one of the most important things we can have, as a species. Attack on freedom of speech is an attack on all of us. And that even despite differences of opinion, you can fight for what you believe in, even if what you stand up for is against everything else you stand for in general. One of the deceased was a police officer who’d gone to respond to the shootings. He was Muslim, and he lost his life protecting the freedom of the press and the lives of the staff of the magazine. His name was Ahmed Merabet. Do not let his death be in vain. Do not let the deaths of Frederic Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Jean Cabut, Elsa Cayat, Stephane Charbonnier, Philippe Honore, Barnard Maris, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Bernard Verlhac, and Georges Wolinski be in vain.
Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.