When I restarted this blog after my hiatus, I decided to let myself blog about some bigger issues. There had been events in the past that I wanted to talk about but decided against doing so because I didn’t want to alienate anybody.  Now I realize that if I write about whatever I want.

I awoke last Wednesday to a reminder that there are those capable of horrible acts in this world. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who keeps up on the news.  This recent act has captured the minds of the world. Of course, I refer to the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris last week. I am not going to go over all the details but here is some good coverage.

These chaotic events have put my mind in a chaotic state. It took awhile for me to be able to write anything intelligible(ha me be intelligible that’s unpossible) about it.

Are we all Charlie?

One of the biggest outcomes of the terrorist attacks has been the rise of a solidarity movement around the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” or I am Charlie.  These three words have shown up all over the place: from social media to professional athletes. Many of the people stating their solidarity would not have published the things Charlie Hebdo did, in fact many of them probably found much of its content offensive. So what were they really standing for?

One recurring theme has been, the pen is mightier than the kalashnikov.  For many people involved, the marches and cartoons are a rejection of terror. We will not let fear be used as a political tool. We will argue, we will use satire, we might even get angry, but we will not use violence. We also will not be swayed by those who do. The solidarity is not in support of everything Charlie Hebdo published but in their right to do so without violent retribution.   Defending someones right to express their view is in no way an endorsement of that view.

The second theme expressed is a defense of one of the most basic underpinnings of western civilization: the right to self expression, or free speech.  I’m old and I remember one of my first real life lessons about free speech.  I don’t remember the details, but the gist involved a shock jock or some one similar who spent his days offending everybody. I learned that if someone could not offend another’s opinions on the minor things how could we discuss the important things.   Speech cannot be constrained by others personal beliefs no matter how strongly held.

Fear and violence should not be used as tool of political advancement and people should be free to express their beliefs without fear of reprisal. I think that is what it means to say Je Suis Charlie.