I’ll start with full disclosure, the story of the murder of the staff and police officers at the offices of Charlie Hebdo got to me. I’ve drawn and published political cartoons. I’ve designed and printed t-shirts with religious icons on them. Some of you may recall the Hang in there Baby Crucifiction. The worst that ever happened to me was an older couple pointing and giggling at me in the grocery check out. The people at Charlie Hebdo were targeted, their lives ended and the lives of everyone around them altered forever. These attacks were over the publishing of cartoons and that is insane. Bat shit crazy kind of insane. But I digress.
Many people around the world responded with a cry of “Je suis Charlie” in support of the people involved, and in support of freedom of expression. Almost as quickly people started replying that they weren’t Charlie Hebdo or that people who supported it had no idea what they were supporting. They point out that Charlie Hebdo published things that would offend a lot of people, they didn’t just target Islam or the Prophet. They also targeted Judaism, Christianity, Jesus and the Pope. Sometimes all at the same time. But that misses the point completely.
Supporting the right of people you agree with to express their views is not support of freedom of speech. It’s supporting the right of your views to be heard. There is only one way to support free speech and that is to support the right of views different from your own to be expressed. People you disagree with, people who offend you as well as people who dislike and disagree with your points of view. This is the bargain we made with each other, we all get to talk.
Supporting the right of Charlie Hebdo to print their cartoons does not mean agreeing with anything they said. It means agreeing that we all have a right to say it.
Je suis Charlie.