Below are the words of a woman I have come to respect and honor, Dr. Carabine.
I thought I might have been Charlie Hebdo, but I’m not …
I watched the events of Paris unfold, much like everyone else, with horror, shock, and distress. I read about, and saw pictures of, the deadly Nigerian Boko Haram slaughtering 2000 people with the same distress. I saw a few still pictures of IS throwing at least one man, deemed to be gay, from the top of a tall building in Iraq with even more sadness. And I also read about the centre pages of the latest Charlie Hebdo edition containing crude, non-satirical cartoons, one of the pope and another of a nun, and found these anything but funny. In my view they are rude and offensive (and I am generally tolerant). I watched pictures of long queues of people waiting to buy their copies of Charlie Hebdo, and I suspect some of them will be shocked and embarrassed too.
Call me old fashioned, but I do not think it is right to make fun of people’s religion. Freedom of speech does not mean I can use foul language just because I can, because I am claiming a right.
I support the right to freedom of speech. I will defend the rights of any person not to be gunned down or killed in cold blood, be they innocent citizens or those claiming their right to free speech. But I also believe there are limits to freedoms and rights, and that rights come with responsibilities.
That is why I was uneasy when watching the world leaders link arms in the boulevards of Paris protesting the deaths of the Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket staff. Why? Because I kept wondering: where are the protests for the citizens of Baga. Who is speaking for them? Where are the solidarity marches for the children of Pakistan? Do we care? Where are the African leaders protesting Boko Haram?
Now there are anti-Charlie protests in Niger, Pakistan, and Algeria, sparking even more violence. And 7 churches torched in Niger! I am so sorry for those who lost their lives in Paris, and my heart goes out to their bereaved families, but no, I am not in support of crude and offensive journalism in the name of freedom of speech.
Dr. Carabine captures my heart and mind ever so adequately. I definitely am not Charlie Hebdo – what about you?