By Daniel Ford
I’m supposed to be feeling outraged by the deadly attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
I’m supposed to take to Twitter and Facebook and fill it with righteous rants about the sanctity of the freedom of speech, the error of extremist Islamists whose religious tenants don’t include taking a joke, and how the death of journalists I feel comradery with makes this latest terrorist attack more personal than those in recent history.
I’m supposed to shake my fist at extremist websites cheering the news and feel some sense of moral superiority because I don’t feel the urge to take my frustrations out with an Uzi or rifle.
I’m supposed to “carry on, ““move on,” “stay the course,” and “never give in,” but how can I actually do all those things effectively when the bad guys believe these platitudes more fanatically?
I’m supposed to chafe at the sudden solidarity with journalists, satirists, and other well-educated, observant, newsy types when society has done nothing but mock, devalue, and underfund literary and news institutions that the globe would be morally bankrupt without.
However, I’m just profoundly sad. Sad that we’ve all become so sensitive to foreign words and ideas that we feel the need to maim and kill those who write and speak them. Sad for the victims and their families. Sad for the governments who will encourage public outcry and shout the requisite promises of justice. Sad that after a brief moment of anger, rage, and condemnation, this event will pass into history as just another pockmark on the human experience.
We’re long past the point as a society where we should have learned that violence only begets more violence. There will always be evil and cold-heartedness in the world, but steel and ammunition aren’t the only weapons we have at our disposal to match it.
I’m going to take my time sorting out my thoughts because, as Mark Harris rightly points out, we don’t dwell on these events long enough to form any sort of informed or enlightened opinion that might shape our future behavior.
The world where humor and satire can get you killed is no world any of us should tolerate. Laughter is the best medicine. #JeSuisCharlie— Mark VandeWettering (@brainwagon) January 7, 2015
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