The imagery coming out of France today has been nothing short of horrific. A cell phone video showing the poised, methodical attack in its entirety. The narrow Parisian streets clogged with ambulances arriving at the scene. The cold-blooded killing of an injured police officer laying on the sidewalk dying. Of all of these images, the one that frightened me the most was very calm: A crowd of people standing in front of the iconic Place de la Republique holding up their ballpoint pens in support of Charlie Hebdo.
What’s so scary about that? There’s no blood or broken glass…
I find it most terrifying that we have been forced to the streets in defense of the intrinsic things that makes us human: our thought, our speech, our expression. Charlie Hedbo and other satirical news outlets fight injustice, corruption and global hypocrisy with the most non-violent of weapons: art and words. It is a cowardly enemy that answers these mediums with a merciless, execution-style ambush. It is an especially cowardly enemy that feels so unequivocally threatened by opposing thought that they strive to silence the voice altogether.
Free expression is a basic human right. It is internationally protected. Satire can be irreverent and offensive, but when has it ever posed a threat as violent as three-masked gunmen running through Paris shooting everyone in sight? This massacre took place at the offices for a satirical publication in Paris, but let’s be clear: this was an attack on human rights.
I realize that the foundations of these tensions are complex and far-reaching. I also realize that sitting here in my West Hollywood office writing a recap of a music festival and baking cupcakes, I am far from qualified to discuss the intricate issues of faith fueling this conflict. But I know enough to say that any interpretation of a religion that openly encourages, or even tolerates the silencing of thought and speech is fundamentally wrong.
Joe Randozzo, former editor of The Onion, put it best in his piece for MSNBC…
“These people are not just enemies of cartoonists or the ideals of the West. They’re enemies of human life.”
Though this is the most public, gruesome incident in quite awhile, this is certainly not the first time that terrorists have targeted journalists in plotted attacks. In 2014 alone, there were 61 journalists killed by opposing forces. They have instilled fear in The West, yes. But more importantly, they have instilled solidarity. Across the globe, countries unify in support of Paris: Je Suis Charlie. This attack will do anything but silence us.
I would like to point out again that I definitely do not consider myself an expert journalist in the political arena. In fact, the thought itself is actually kind of laughable. But this really got to me today. And because I am any type of journalist in any arena, it felt negligent not to discuss what really happened today in Paris.
Today they silenced 12 brilliant comedians, writers, and artists.
Who is next? The actor? The musicians? And then maybe the students?
Today they convinced me that nothing is safe.
As I woke up, the videos of these men running around Paris were on every news channel. I frantically messaged a dear friend who’s office is not 100m from the attacks. His only reply came with sad resolve:
“The war is everywhere now.”
I’m afraid he’s right.
All you need is love. Thanks for listening to some deep thoughts, now back to the deep house…