North Texas Daily

On Charlie Hebdo, Remember the Importance of Satirical Journalism

On Charlie Hebdo, Remember the Importance of Satirical Journalism

On Charlie Hebdo, Remember the Importance of Satirical Journalism
January 12
19:06 2015

The Editorial Board

We condemn the murderers of the 12 slain Charlie Hebdo editorial employees, as the terrorists directly attacked journalism, which is a challenge to freedom itself. The French government, led by President François Hollande, made the correct response, acknowledging the importance of a free press.

The events on and surrounding the Jan. 7 terrorist attacks demanded the attention of the world, and the focus of the journalism community. As French authorities rallied to bring the terrorists to justice, news media around the world debated the cartoons that resulted in the attacks. Often, Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad in ways unflattering to Muslims. Some opine the cartoons provoked the attacks, citing the 2011 firebombing of the weekly satirical paper’s office.

While most of the cartoons were in some way offensive, satire is a means of mocking power. Without a check on power, those who possess it run wild, free to do as they please. By mocking power, journalists promote and protect freedom. Satire is journalism, and journalism is the private investigator shining the light on the immorality of the world.

The argument that the content printed by Charlie Hebdo was unnecessary, or uncalled for, is flawed. You see, the satirical newspaper was born out of oppression. In November 1970, the newspaper Hara-Kiri Hebdo printed content that was unfavorable in the eyes of the French government. In fact, the government said the paper violated the dignity of the government —or as the French say, “lèse-majesté.” Minister of the Interior Raymond Marcellin prohibited the sale of the paper to minors and the paper was censured by a sovereign government. Today, Charlie Hebdo pumps out content —journalism —under the mission to reject the government, and all those who capitalize on power in ways that serve to the detriment of those without power.

Terrorist organizations such as ISIS or al-Qaida stand in opposition to most everything for which journalism stands. In 2014, journalists were beheaded at the hands of ISIS terrorists, focused on defying the West and spreading its deadly message: stand with us, or die. Terrorism is a reality the 21st century possesses. And as terrorism controverts democracy, journalists are tasked with combating the anti-freedom message. Charlie Hebdo defied that message, and the brave journalists and cartoonists who did such paid for freedom with their lives.

Do not fear the day terrorists bring down our tallest buildings, or massacre patriots in civilized board meetings. Fear the day Charlie Hebdo is again restricted. When the cartoons it produces become taboo, that’s the day freedom is at stake. A free press means journalists have the right to publish a message without persecution or repercussion. If the message of the people is not delivered, an ethical violation occurs: intellectual property is tossed aside.

It is no secret terrorism is a worthy adversary to freedom, and its organization is becoming more worrisome. Terrorists can market to teenaged Americans via social media. Corrupt billionaires funnel money to religious mongrels. The terrorist may kill, and governments will fight back, but the day journalism is chained by the paralyzing fear of terrorism, the true defeat will occur: our independent ideologies will be manipulated.

If journalists back down to terrorists, people of the West will follow suit. And if the people cower to terrorism, make ready, for the governments of the West will be choked by the crippling momentum that will be the unchecked terrorist.

The North Texas Daily offers condolences to the loved ones who lost theirs in the attacks on Jan. 7, and the days following. We thank the authorities for pursuing the offenders, and we sympathize with those terrorists who are lost each day to the faulty logic of twisted Jihadists.

Featured Image: A woman operates a Charlie Hebdo stand at a literary fair in 2012. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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