There is a fine line I think every kind of journalist walks on a daily basis. It is a constant questioning of whether what you’re writing is true and worth saying, but also whether it offends or caters. Political journalists stand at the eye of what can easily become a disorienting storm, but all conscientious writers deal with the same questions on some level every time they pick up a pen.

For my part, I mourn for the profession as a whole this week, even if I could never get behind CharlieHebdo’s methods and vulgarity. I mourn the human right to be able to gather safely in your own offices; the right to call ideologies into question; to challenge authority and social stigma.

At the same time, I believe that words have the power to unite people and dispel hate; that integrity is stronger than ridicule; that kindness could change the world, if we’d let it. Which we never will. I recall what vignettes did to the Jews prior to WWII and how they propelled the anti-Semitic movement along to horrific ends. There are vignettes, and there are vignettes. Which are slander and which are freedom of speech? No writer will ever be free of those underlying moral considerations, as is no human being who truly does seek justice and equality. I mourn the weight of that question today, because the Paris murders have made it heavier than it has been in a long while.


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