Freedom of speech

Last month I wrote an article about new technology that’s making a big splash in the international press these days. It was an opinion piece, and though heavily verified and water-tight, I remember worrying the night before it went to print over whether I had made the right choice gently criticising a certain brand.

My colleagues laughed, saying I was making a big deal out of nothing, and that my mention could actually end up bringing them visibility. It was an honest critique, and a necessary one, but I’ve felt strange having it out there since I know the CEO personally. When the staff at CharlieHebdo was murdered in Paris this week, all that came into focus in a very different way.  Like the curve of astigmatism, my perspective was instantly skewed.

CharlieHebdo promulgates a style I could hardly get behind. Vulgar and offensive, they criticise organisations, politics, beliefs of every nature mercilessly, and without exception. But satire by definition is thought-provoking (provoking being the key word) and their blows are as effective as they are equitable. Other than having my feelings hurt on occasion, I find no fault in their ways. They are a mouthpiece, they are the checks and balances of a democracy, they are human beings.

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And words do not equal bullets, even if their impact is often much more powerful. Then I remembered my article, my tiny critique that suddenly seemed just a comment of truth. And why should we not speak truth?

I felt ashamed for having been so fearful of it. Their methods are not my own, but their deaths have provoked thought in me. I dare say they would draw a terrible, vulgar picture of me to prove my point, were they here in my office now. Bless them.

Vive la liberté.

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