Violence in France leads our columnist to wonder which are more powerful.
Cries coming from the country of wine and cheese. Something we might have missed in the news, or that we didn’t see as anything special. Until we were led to understand.
On January 7th, 2015 the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper in Paris, were attacked by Islamic terrorists. The New York Times reported that twelve people were killed including editors, cartoonist, and police.
Al Qaeda, an Islamic radical group, has taken responsibility for this gruesome attack. They have based their reaction on satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which is seen as a commandment violation in Islam.
This leads to many questions – who really wronged who? Who did more damage? The real question that I would like to pose is, what is more powerful, pen or weapon?
In the song “Raise Your Weapon” by Deadmau5 the lyrics “raise your weapon, one word and it’s over” rattle through my brain. It encompasses the question of the power held by those with pen or weapon in hand. Who can damage more with less effort?
Poring over articles about this tragedy has led me to believe that it is the pen. The weapon doesn’t have bullets, but ink. It doesn’t shoot, but writes.
I was told to cite sources to help my argument for the pen, but after searching for a while to find sources, all that I could find were pieces on Charlie Hebdo. I believe that this should attest to the fact that the pen has created a media storm, absolute public interest worldwide, that will only grow.
The weapon may seem stronger. Twelve reporters, artists, and editors were slain in cold blood. But pen and paper is the silent killer, the one who doesn’t need to physically attack you, but attacks through the manipulation of your brain and emotions. Through this attack, how many other articles have been written on the topic? How much publicity is terrorism getting? The most simple question to this is millions.
The newest copy of Charlie Hebdo portrays a weeping Muhammed holding a sign saying “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) under a heading “Tout Est Pardonne” (All is forgiven). These copies are flying off the shelves worldwide. According to Reuters, Charlie Hebdo usually has a distribution of around 60,000. Nearly 3 million copies of this new issue may be printed.
At the same time though, thousands of Palestinian protesters gathered in the town of Ramallah and many other cities around the world, where they are chanting and holding signs saying “France is the mother of terrorism. America is the mother of terrorism,” according to the New York Times.
This cover could have many meanings. What comes to mind when I see the cover are questions. Are they poking fun at Islam again? Or are they saying that all is forgiven for killing their friends? This is the definition of Charlie Hebdo cover: controversy. Will this cause more hate and violence or be seen as a sign of peace?
The full name of the French paper is Charlie Hebdo Journal Irresponsable. This literally translates to “Charlie Hebdo, The Irresponsible Newspaper.” Even this states that they are irresponsible and will poke fun at anyone and everyone.
All of this violence was provoked when a cartoonist sat at his desk to write and draw his thoughts on a piece of paper.
Is it possible to end these atrocities, end the hate, kill the freedom?
America has the Bill of Rights, which protects freedom of press, religion, and the right to bear arms. This is the basis of what this great country was founded on. Why should it be changed for the irrational few who take it to the next level? Yes it was wrong to publish against a religion, but as a world we need to understand that everyone has an opinion. A diversity of experiences and opinions makes us global citizens. In the United States, everyone has a right to free speech.
Every religion bashes each other, every race bashes each other. It now seems to be increasing in intensity. More and more people are being offended by what twenty years ago was seen as just another thing being said.
Since the invention of the internet and globalization, information from one side of the world can be sent to the other in a matter of seconds. This means that any bit of outrage can spread fast from local to global.
What some would say, all over the world, is that we should silence the writers, and outlaw the guns. This idea seems so brilliant, so radical that it should work, but it won’t.
When you silence the writers you will stop the general population KNOWING what they need to know. Knowledge keeps the citizens of a country as exactly that – citizens – not just figurines being played with by the oppression of a government. The best example for this is the atrocities of North Korea.
When you take the guns – or the pens – away from the public it has two effects. One effect is that you lose all opportunity to overthrow – or express opinions against – an oppressive government. In the Declaration of Independence it states “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”. How would this be possible without weapons? How would this be possible without freedom of speech or expression?
The second effect is letting the criminals and terrorists have all the weapons or words to oppress, while the public has no way to defend themselves.
We are in the world where the pen is the gun and the gun is the pen. Both demand responsible use.