The internet is all about free speech, Some idiots abuse the privilege, but most of us know that freedom comes with responsibilities, rights come with respect. So sharpen your pencils, fill up your ink bottles, position yourself or your characters, and speak, speak freely.
One is left speechless by the continuing atrocities around the world, and we’re most exercised by those occurring in our own back yards. It’s the PLU effect: People Like Us. If the Charlie Hebdo outrage had happened in an African country, for example, yes we’d be upset for a while and we’d say and write heartfelt things, but we’d also understand that these things happen in unfortunate places where security is less abundant, where the rule of law is often broken beyond fixing in failed and failing states, and where, well, these things happen, and for the most part, the people aren’t PLU. Except, of course, that they are, and that’s a whole ‘nother but not unrelated issue for people far more expert in international relations than me. Keep reflecting, grasshopper.
But Paris? Really? Paris. City of Light. City of Dreams. One of the few places I’m planning to visit when I make it to the next dimension and before I rocket off to Mars to see what the fuss is about.
But Paris? Paris, 2015, Sydney and Ottawa, 2014. Go back: London, Bali, Mumbai, Boston, New York. I haven’t Googled a list, but there’ll be one for sure and it’ll be a lot longer than my paltry few names and faulty memory bank.
This morning, my loved one and I were trying to remember the terrorist groups of our childhood and teenage years and without much trouble we could come up with half a dozen or so: Bader Meinhoff, IRA, INLA, Red Brigades, Black September, Symbionese Liberation Army, Red Army, Shining Path, FARC, PLF, PFLP.
Don’t worry about the acronyms, they all share the same goals, then and now. They want to control people and kill people who disagree with them. They don’t like free speech, or singing or dancing either, I expect.
And some of them really hate comics, and cartoonists. They hate them so much that they murder them.
But more, many, many more people love comics, and cartoonists and that is writ large on social media and throughout every medium of communication today (in the aftermath of the murders of 12 people at satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris on Wednesday. January 7). The killers are still at large a couple of days later. They are apparently radical Islamic terrorists unhappy about Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of Islamic figures. Instead of writing a letter of protest, instead of phoning to make a complaint, or better yet, creating their own cartoons in response since you can do that in free societies like France, they decided to kill people.
The long and short of it is summed up in a sign I saw on Twitter this morning on the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag – Stop Killing People You Fucking Twats.
So, stop killing people you fucking twats. Get a set of pens and pencils, or if, like me, you can’t draw even stick figures, get some Lego or toys, and set up your own comics. Create a free blog, post your work and communicate with respect, and take responsibility.
The pen is mightier than the arsenals, so get cracking and do the worthwhile thing: make people laugh if you want to teach them something valuable. That’s what the cartoonists and the writers are doing now and now and now and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Guns run out of bullets, knives lose their edge, but pencils – pencils just get shorter, and funnier.
Today, Je Suis Charlie.