Comment: if you don’t read my inane thoughts about ‘Charlie Hebdo’ then the terrorists have won


I’m sure we can all agree that the murder of 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo was a tragedy.

This just goes to show that journalism is the bravest profession. The response to this heinous crime now falls to the bravest members of that profession: comment-piece writers like myself.

In all honesty, if you don’t read what I – a white British middle-class non-Muslim person who doesn’t speak French and hadn’t even heard of Charlie Hebdo before Wednesday – have to think about the complex issues involved, then the terrorists have won.

That’s right. If you value freedom of speech it’s your solemn duty to read this confused mess of poorly thought-out responses that I typed out quickly for money. Otherwise I will have been silenced by terrorism and those cartoonists will have died for nothing.

Although, should we even call it terrorism? On the one hand, it looks like terrorism. The OED (alright, Google) defines ‘terrorism’ as ‘the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims’. I guess the aims of the killers were political? And they were certainly violent. But on the other hand, isn’t calling such acts terrorism playing into the hands of the terrori- I mean, the murderer shooting guys? To be honest, I don’t even know.

I’ve looked at some cartoons from previous Charlie Hebdo editions (just the pictures – remember, I can’t read French) and some of them definitely could be described as racist. Does that mean they should have been killed? I’m going to stick my neck out here and say ‘no’. That’s the sort of controversial opinion I have. Bet you’re glad you read that nugget of gold here.

Let’s also remember that not all Muslims are vicious evil murderers. Although, a very small minority are. I mean, not to leap to conclusions before the trial, but these guys seem like they are. But then again, exactly the same thing can be said of Christians, Jews, and members of every other religion. Probably not Jains though, I guess? I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws here.

A simple dichotomy between the West and Islam is too simple even for me to try and push on you. It’s really more like a plurachotomy (?subs, check this please). However, even a quick skim of world news – like I just did for the first time – will tell you that global politics is insanely complicated. Thousands of people are killed by similar atrocities in the Middle East. For example, 37 people were just killed in Yemen by a suicide bombing, but you’re not reading about them, are you? The media just don’t cover this stuff, which is a disgrace.

Anyway, back to discussing Charlie Hebdo. All I’m saying is that… actually, I’m not sure what I was trying to say. But I’m saying it, and that’s what matters.

There are probably wider lessons to be learnt about this tragedy, although I have to admit I’ve got absolutely no idea what they are. If you refuse to read my opinions merely on the basis that I know nothing and I have nothing to add to the debate, then my free speech will have been silenced and the terrorists will have won.

It’s at times of great uncertainty and flux that the world needs comment pieces – and now it needs them more than ever.


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