The 32-page copy of the newspaper accuses Islamic fundamentalists, organized religion, an irresolute government and intelligence failures for the 2015 violence in France by Muslim extremists that started with that day.
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Through a western lens of the world, a cartoon is meant to amuse, mask an message or comment or provoke a discussion. Nothing should be off the table, right? However, an illustration of depicting child pornography, or homophobic message or antisemitic views are not innocuous, as they should not be.
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Slowly, a mellow sadness overcame me. Maybe I'm not Je Suis Charlie. Maybe I'm Je Suis Sorry. I'm sorry we live in a world where young men (and a young woman too) were so angry and so radicalized that their actions were a viable option for them. Where not a single world leader had the humility to say sorry.
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There is no doubt in my mind that what happened to the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo was an unacceptable tragedy. Nobody should die because of their views.Still, despite the tragedy of the lives lost, I still cannot stand behind the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan. And the automatic herd of people rushing to back the slogan without applying critical thought to it or educating themselves about the publication is a deeply troubling phenomenon.
I couldn't help but puzzle over why it's called satire and freedom of expression to demean sacred tenets of the Muslim religion in cartoons on the cover of a magazine on the one hand, but an offensive Facebook posting mocking the Je Suis Charlie slogan by Dieudonné got him arrested on the other hand. As I was mulling over what all this meant, a friend challenged me, "when does freedom of expression end and hate speech begin?" It's an important question to ask in light of the events of last week.
So much has been written about the cartoons published in the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. But should main stream print media re-publish them? What if children see the images? What then? Or, alternatively, should we actively show them to our children? If we want our children to live in a democratic society, we had better teach them that freedom of expression has two ends to it.
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