EDITORIAL: Provocateurs have no saints, no saviors

North Wind Staff

On Wednesday, Jan. 7 2015 a group of terrorists stormed into the offices of the French magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” killing a total of 12 and wounding 11 editors, cartoonists, writers and police officers. The magazine has been criticized for the content of the publication and the crudeness of the editorial cartoons. Yes, they are sometimes grotesque, phallic and dirty. We don’t deny they are offensive to some Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The point to remember is that these writers, editors and cartoonists were silenced in a murderous rampage by religious extremists who didn’t like the paper’s satirical commentary and cartoons. This is not something we can allow in a free society; no matter what’s being printed, no matter how unsavory we think it is.

Why? Because we’re rational people and if we don’t like something we see in the paper, we turn the page. Satire, parody and fun-poking play an important role in critically examining our leaders and leading schools of thought; no one should be shot for satirically portraying anyone or anything, and we don’t for a second condone what the gunmen did, but there is a delicate balance to be struck among hypocrisy, censorship and total freedom of expression.

While polarizing and straight-up offensive at times, these satirists are saying things that no one else dares to say. They are certainly far-swung on the pendulum, but that’s the point, isn’t it? To poke us into defending our own beliefs? These provocateurs, the Charlie Hebdo’s of the world, are very much worth keeping around, even if sometimes the content they run is so outrageous and offensive that it angers men with masks and machine guns. Offensive words and crude illustrations should never warrant physical harm. “Charlie Hebdo” is a publication that swings its pen at all forms of politics and religions, not specifically one or another.

As the world reflects on the shootings in France, we at The North Wind reflect on our own recent struggles for freedom of speech. We are incredibly blessed to live in a country where we have the right of free press and free speech. We need to remember this right and remember the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack so we both appreciate our freedoms and fight to continue to have a voice on this campus.