je ne suis pas charlie

By now you should all have heard. Yesterday, at least two masked gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed four men who worked for the paper, Charb, Wolinski, Cabu and Tignous. It is sad. Things like this are always sad, because it's an assault on the right to free speech and expression. That right is one of the easiest ones to take away. If you kill someone because of what he said, then a great number of the people who think as he does will fear for their lives too. It doesn't matter how loudly you rally against the aggressors because you know that deep down, there's a smidgen of fear that cannot be denied. Because of who I am, and where I am, I understand this. There are things you do not say; there are articles you do not write. When people ask you why not you laugh and say that you're disinterested, but the truth is you don't really want to invite any form of persecution into your life.

In Nigeria, more than a few journalists have been killed by unidentified gunmen. Their cases have never been resolved. I am not so optimistic as to believe them random events. I know that all men must die, but, in Nigeria, some men die with a question mark. And while death is horrible, there are many things that can be done to break a naughty man's spirit. I don't know what they are and I'm grateful for this. I like my body unbeaten. I like my purity unsoiled. I like myself alive. So while I'm gutted by the deaths of the fallen journalists, and cartoonists. I'm not going to join the Je Suis Charlie Hebdo social media campaign, because I am not Charlie Hebdo. One day of screaming for press freedoms in France will not absolve me of my skittish words when discussing issues that are perhaps better left undiscussed for the sake of safety. In my opinion, to be Charlie Hebdo is to speak out unreservedly without care of what might happen to you because of it. I do not do this, so I am not, or I cannot be Charlie Hebdo. I would like to be I think, but I also like myself unworried and unharmed. So today I'll think about all the ways I'm not Charlie, and what a shame that is.

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