Let me start this by saying: I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo before the attack on their office that left 12 people dead. I think that’s important because I feel like a lot of people in North America had never heard of it before either. And yet everyone now seems to have an opinion about the attack and what it means. What a surprise.
One horrible tragedy that spawns a global news story and suddenly everyone is an expert on freedom of speech, Muslims and editorial cartoons. (Here’s a fun game: when’s the last time you actually saw an editorial cartoon that had enough of an effect on you to tell a friend about it?) Apparently, everyone is also now an expert on opinion pieces about freedom of speech, Muslims and editorial cartoons. Thanks to the internet and our 24 hour news streams, there are always opinion pieces about opinion pieces about opinion pieces.
Because it’s important that someone “gets it right” in terms of what 12 people getting killed for making politically charged cartoons all means. That’s what’s important. There has to be meaning from this. It can’t just be that two mentally unstable people shot a bunch of people for no reason. No, it means something and everyone needs their meaning to be the right one.
Responding to the attack isn’t about saying “Je suis Charlie,” it’s about saying “Je suis Ahmed.” Or even “I am not Charlie Hebdo.” The material produced in Charlie Hebdo is racist. It’s also heroic. But… pretty racist. That said, we should still condemn those kooky radical Muslims, am I right? Everyone needs to have a response and it needs to be posted by EOD. Every media outlet needs to have one of their people say something about the tragedy before the story dies. The quickest way to think of something to say is to respond to something that’s already been said. And then of course we all must have something to say about all that’s been said.
That’s what’s important. This story is all over news. You have to know where you stand. You definitely have to tell all your Facebook friends where you stand. Twitter needs to know, too. So start sharing everyone. Don’t take a step back to consider the attacks themselves, why they occurred, what they were against or even what they were for. Quickly form your opinion based on the first North American op-ed you saw that more-or-less felt right to you. We’re all waiting to hear what you think.
But really, you don’t always have to have an opinion on something. Even if it’s a tragedy on this scale. Or one that’s this politically charged. You don’t have to rush to determine which opinion piece best represents your views on the event. You certainly don’t have to tell everyone how you feel. Especially when you were never familiar with the magazine or what its material was about.
Sometimes saying “Well, this is really fucking awful” is enough. But that’s just my opinion.