Friday, 16 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie? Non.

First, let me say that my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured during the horrific events that took place recently in France.

Second, I have no use for anyone who resorts to terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians to further their cause. These men and women who try to use religion as an excuse or motivation for the violence they commit should endure the harshest penalties available.  

Why do I not stand with Charlie? I blame my parents. They brought me up to respect everyone, regardless of their race or religion, and therefore, I would never find myself drawing (if I could draw) or writing something that would personally attack anyone, let alone their religion. In the media frenzy that followed however, it was often stated that cartoonists should be able to disrespect anyone and anything - it was just a cartoon after all! I would like to think that when the world collectively takes a deep breath, it would not really feel that way. I'm pretty certain that all the men and women who died protecting our freedoms, didn't envision 'freedom' (especially of the press) meaning that we would be free to say or do anything we want to, regardless of who we hurt or offend.

Otherwise, you have to open up that can of worms completely. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, a hotdog vender decided to address that scenario. He tweeted a group of posts, every bit as disturbing as the cartoons printed in Charlie, except that he attacked everyone else. Now that the shoe was on the other foot, it was not long before the police were involved, and leaders of one particular religion he chose to attack were seen on the news calling this man terrible names, and even suggesting that his business be shut down.

Sadly, the irony of that suggestion seemed to be lost on the reporter. I guess the person interviewed had forgotten when businesses owned by his own people were shut down during the 'night of the long knives', because of the beliefs held by the owners. Alas, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

So, what will it be? A totally chaotic free for all with everyone attacking who or whatever they wish without repercussion, all in the name of free speech or freedom of the press? Or, do we try and do what my parents worked so hard to teach me - respect each other, and by doing so, remove at least one weapon from the arsenal of these terrorists.

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