"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." – Thomas Jefferson
There are times when people ask me if I’m French and I reply, half-jokingly, “don’t call me French, I’m Belgian!” I take an offended tone; I don’t want to be French. But today, I am, everyone is French, I am and everyone else is Charlie.
Sitting in my mum’s house in the French countryside, we’re grieving, the tears and whisky are flowing. We are scared at the idea that there are people in this world who are willing to kill because they didn’t find a joke funny.
The radio is on, we’re following the development of the events, listening to the day-long homage to the people who died for the freedom of expression, freedom of press. France and the French press are grieving, people around the world are uniting to show their support.
In Nick Clegg’s words (yes, Nick Clegg), “in a free society people have to be free to offend each other. You cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend each other. We have no right not to be offended. That fundamental principle of being free to offend people - and not saying somehow that you have a right not be offended in a democratic, open, society such as ours is exactly what was under threat by these murderous barbarians.” He was answering a caller who tried to justify the horrificattack.
So many people are uniting yet a lot of hate has risen from this. Several French mosques have already been attacked since the terrorist attack, no one was wounded or killed but it shows that the islamophobic politicians will probably have gained quite a few votes during this episode.
Front National’s leader, Marine Lepen, is now calling for a referendum on capital punishment, Fox News is calling formore weapons, hatred calls for hatred. But as many people said, including French President François Hollande, we should remain strong and united and not succumb to hatred, which would mean the terrorists will have won.
Let’s fight, stand up for our right to offend anyone we want, say whatever bullshit we want. After all when Charlie Hebdo mocked the Pope, Catholics didn’t attack journalists or even threatened them and when they published “The King of the jerks is dead” when Belgian King Baudouin died, Belgians didn’t burn down offices.
Tonight I will proudly stand in Périgueux to commemorate and honour the memory of journalists, geniuses and colleagues. I will also stand for my right, our right, to think what we want and express ourselves, I will not be silenced. Today I am Charlie, we are Charlie, because we should not leave any room for hatred.