Up Close and (un)Conventional #12 – Freedom of Speech
Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I just want to talk about freedom of speech, and how fragile it can be. I’m sure most of you have heard about the horrors that happened in Paris yesterday, at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.
Armed men forced themselves inside the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and killed twelve people, including four of the most famous artists making the caricatural drawings the newspaper is well known for. I think the whole of Europe is in a state of shock, actually, both because using violence against pens and pencils just seem so utterly wrong, and because Charlie Hebdo and the people working there are part of the French media landscape, and have been for over forty years.
One of the things Charlie Hebdo is so famous for is that they make caricatures that literally make fun of anything and anyone – everything and everyone. Nobody is safe from the harsh movements of a pencil, one wrong word said, one displaced hand, a look in the wrong direction and it may very well be captured in one of the famous drawings – with just the one-liner to make it something much more poignant than a whole article could have been.
The loss of life, intelligent and talented people who have always tried to push the boundaries to make sure that democracy stays strong makes me feel hollow inside. And so, I want to ask you, how far would you go for your freedom of expression? The people working at Charlie Hebdo knew there were death threats against them – but they refused to back down – saying they preferred to die free than to live as rats. I think that takes a lot of courage, and I salute them all!