If my Twitter feed is any indication, the creative community has been feeling the attack at Charlie Hebdo in a very personal way. While we grieve for the lives lost and send our support to the friends and family of those who were killed, there’s something about a violent assault on satirists that hurts us on a different level. It attacks a cultural standard which is fundamental to our work and our sense of self identity: freedom of expression.
The very fact that the artists at Charlie Hebdo were attacked, however, points to a truth that I can take some small consolation from: art matters. Stories matters. Jokes matter. Comics matter. If the satire of Charlie Hebdo hadn’t been seen as a threat, they wouldn’t have been attacked.
George Orwell may have said it best: “Freedom is the freedom to say the two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
We are free to speak, and because we are free to speak, the attack at Charlie Hebdo is no more effective than cutting the head off the Hydra: for every artist extremists cut down, how many more will decide to raise their voices and pens in protest?
So, to raise my own voice, here is what I have to say on the subject of extremist attacks against satire:
Art matters. Nous sommes Charlie.