Today I pray for those wounded and the families of those murdered in Paris.
In case you missed it, there was another act of jihadist terrorism in the world today. It was a cowardly attack against the satirical newspaper 'Charlie Hebdo' in Paris. You can read the news story here. This blog is not about news; it is about the particular brand of insane courage it takes to be a political cartoonist in this world.
In a time when language itself is being pushed and manipulated into increasingly hyperbolic levels of dualism, there are often times when only an image can cross ideological divides. Cartoons do this sharply and viscerally. Satirical pieces often are poignant, provocative, irreverent, and candid.
Some are biased. Some are distasteful. Some are mean-spirited. Some are not.
So, in a country which defends the freedom of the individual's right to speak and the press' right to publish, many of us, myself included, sometimes question the wisdom of spouting off some of the opinions and judgments we see. BUT it is still the right and responsibility of free people everywhere to support the right of all people to express, publish, draw, write, Tweet, etc.
Cartoonists are vulnerable because they put their images, in a few strokes of the pen, right up in the face of the entire world. Once a piece is in the newspaper or on the internet, it's no-holds-barred from that point forward, and the piece stands alone to be interpreted by every individual viewer who runs across it. The cartoonist doesn't have the luxury of seven inches of column space or any other forum to explain or unpack what s/he was thinking when s/he drew the thing. The gift they give us is letting us view and cogitate on an image and make up our minds for ourselves what we think about the subject.
We respond with anything ranging from nasty Tweets to letters to the editor to death threats.
This time criminals sought to silence the writers and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo with automatic weapons. They sought to frighten off others who might share their opinions.
This will not succeed. It will not succeed because there are pencils, pens, markers, drawing programs, photo illustration apps, and the artists who wield them. Allons-y. Grab a tool! Whether your expression is a quick sketch, a photo, a letter to the editor, or baking a pie, won't you join me in lifting up artists of courage everywhere in love and light?
Il n'y a pas de liberte sans liberte de la presse.