Staff Members Voice Thoughts on the Attack of the French Magazine
By Jéan-Claude Quintyne
As writers, journalists, students, and citizens of the world, one of the things we exercise often is freedom of speech.
It is something we hold dear. It’s something that we don’t have to worry about leaving behind or that will be missing when we wake up in the morning.
We can, however we desire, express ourselves or comment or speak out against something that doesn’t sit right with us.
It’s not something that can be purchased at a convenience store. It is not something that we have to learn. It’s not a tangible object that can be broken.
And it certainly is not something we ever think we’d get judged or attacked for.
This freedom is something we never have to ask for. Simply put, it’s just there–and we use it to change the world.
As civilized human beings, this freedom ensures that everyone’s voice, despite its pitch or volume, will be heard.
This freedom opens the door to one of the many safe places in life that we can turn to, run to, fly to and express ourselves as passively or explicitly as we damn well please without any repercussions.
And that’s why the attack on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo last month has struck a chord with us here at The Banner.
Although we are separated from Charlie Hebdo by the vast Atlantic Ocean, we are affected because our freedom of speech was attacked also.
We felt the freedom of speech of everone who cherishes it attacked. It intensified the atmosphere that reminds us that we are a publication too and what it means to be one.
We shouldn’t have to watch our backs now because a group of people reacted horribly to something that offended them, but now we do. We shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of our friends and family because of something we write in The Banner or post to our news feeds, but now we do.
In spite of this now anxiety-ridden, unnecessarily over self-conscious mindset that, after this attack will be on our minds whether we want to think about it or not, we will continue as before, making each stroke of the pen and keyboard that much more meaningful.
“Even though I know almost nothing about the staff of Charlie Hebdo, it never occurs to me at any point throughout this awful day that they’ll cease publication after these killings” wrote Todd Hanson, former head writer for The Onion, on good.is.
Hanson’s words were true. The magazine published an issue one week after the attacks, with an illustration of the Prophet Muhammad–the image that provoked the attacks–crying, holding up a sign that reads “Je Suis Charlie.”
Most moving about the cover is, immediately underneath the magazine’s name and above the Prophet’s head are the words “Tout est Pardonné” which means, “All is Forgiven.”
The amount of strength it takes to pen something of that caliber and release it to the world is more than incredible, and motivates us here at The Banner to get together to salute protesters and fellow staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine.
In defense of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, we want to say that we are with you and, like you, are the exact opposite of terrorized.