I am torn with sorrow and fear. Je suis Charlie! It could be me. I am an outspoken writer. Some would consider me radical. I know my Facebook friend list shrivels when I post political memes and blogs. But I am not afraid for my life. I can say whatever I want and nobody has tried to kill me… Thus far. I suppose that could change on any unsuspecting Tuesday. They must not silence us.
2014 was a bad year for journalists and photojournalists. I didn’t watch the videos of the journalists being beheaded, but millions of people did. I rubbed my neck and cried. It could have been me. In another lifetime, I could have been a front-line journalist. I could be dead just for reporting what I see. Je suis Charlie!
I don’t write political cartoons, but I would if I could. Political cartoons are my favorite part of the newspaper. I have that same need in me that all writers do. The need to write, the need to explain the world to ourselves and others. It should not be a death sentence. The word is mightier than the sword, but bullets cut everyone down.
My freedom of speech is a given in my world. I stand on the corner with signs and heckle my former state governor. True story, I was one voice alone screaming, “Tom Corbett sucks!” He heard me. My life is not at risk because of it. I call him stupid and evil all the time. I write it, I publish it for anyone to read. My life is not at risk. I have been known to take the Christian Lord’s name in vain. I may or may not have used the term Zombie Jesus more than once. My life is not at risk because of it. Nobody is calling out my name. My heart is broken.
I have been called racist against Canadians, a hypocrite, a gossip, a sexist, and stupid bitch with a big mouth. I never worried about who saw what I wrote. Now the world is a mess. Writers are shot in their place of work. Photographers are kidnapped for years to be beheaded on YouTube. Oh, Je Suis Charlie! I have always been a Francophile, perhaps I am French racist as well? The news hit me hard. I wish I could fly to France and step in to fill the empty shoes of Charlie Hebdo. I want to hug all the Paris residents who just want to live in peace. I want to leave my favorite purple pen on the street in memorial of people killed for their art.
I don’t wish death upon anyone, not even my rapists or enemies. And certainly not my compatriots, the speakers of truth, the tellers of the other side of the story. It is a dangerous job being a writer or just answering the phone and front door or serving coffee in Australia. Which could have also been me in another life or this one. Extremism and hate is everywhere.
I want peace for Syria and Palestine and everyone who is at war. I want us all to get along. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all… It works great for interpersonal interactions, but not politics or political cartoons. We have to say the not nice things. We have to look at the dark things and shine a light on them. It is our right to. I don’t like all seizure jokes, but I’m not going to kill over it.
I did not know the year 2015 would be like this. Science fiction writers of the past are either very disappointed or very smug about this.
My condolences to us all.
Je Suis Charlie.