Freedom of Speech – Events in Paris

I’m sat watching the events unfolding in Paris on the TV. We live in a very connected world.  Television, Internet, Mobile Phones. News and information is available instantaneously. A shooting in Paris is reported almost as it happens – I’m exaggerating slightly of course.

Let’s take the shooting at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday. A group of artistic, creative, intelligent people were having their weekly editorial meeting. They were planning the next edition of the weekly satirical magazine that is famous throughout France. For the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ team every subject, every famous individual was fair game. The cartoons created by ‘Charlie Hebdo’ were world class. They didn’t shy away from controversy – ever!

Charlie Hebdo - the cartoonists

These guys were attacked in their office, their place of work whilst innocently going about their daily business. I can picture the scene, coffee on the table, cigarettes (almost certainly), conversation, exchange of ideas, laughter. Four of the cartoonists who worked for the paper were at the meeting. One of them a gentleman of 80 years of age, a veteran of the student marches of the 60s, a life-long supporter of liberty and freedom. Another a jazz lover and pacifist. Minutes later two heavily armed men burst into the office. The cartoonists and other staff members lost their lives in a brutal and callous attack. The victims represented freedom for a whole generation of French people. They will not be forgotten.

In a democratic society we cherish and honour freedom of speech. We regard it as our right. The Charlie Hebdo team played a crucial role in holding public figures to account and questioning the motives of those in a position of power. Of course Nicolas Sarkozy or Francois Hollande do not necessarily like being lampooned by the cartoonists – but they accept it. It is part of living in a free society.

We must defend our right to ‘freedom of speech’ we must defend our liberty. In the last few days numerous cartoons have appeared commemorating ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and the terrible massacre that took place. Yesterday I heard that other French media companies will assist ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and next week’s edition will come out on Wednesday as usual. In addition the print run will be ONE MILLION copies and not the usual 60,000.

Bravo ‘Charlie Hebdo’  vraiment nous sommes tous ‘Charlie’.

Let’s use the amazing communications available to us to promote freedom, honesty, integrity and respect for our fellow man.

The cartoonists of the world have been working double-time since Wednesday. Here are some of my favourites! First from Matt at The Telegraph and forwarded to me by my daughter Lucy………………….

Charlie Hebdo - Matt

Next we’ve got the front page of The Independent on Thursday morning and Dave Brown’s powerful and indignant response……..

Charlie Hebdo - Independent

Last we have Carlos Latuff in ‘Middle East Monitor’ brilliantly characterising the gun men and the inevitable consequences of their actions!

Charlie Hebdo - Carlos Latuff

My personal favourite is this one, below of Charlie Brown – from whom the paper took its name. This is the poignant work of Magnus Shaw who took the famous cartoon by Charles Schultz and added the ‘Je suis Charlie’ caption – completely inspired Magnus. Simple and to the point.

Magnus Shaw - cartoon

Updated: Sunday, 11th January, 2015




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