Today in Paris something shocking has happened. One of the biggest shootings of the century was down to a satirical magazine. Journalists and cartoonists were the target of this act of terrorism. It shocks me that in this modern age freedom of expression has been attacked in this way. France is a country that fought for its freedoms and is a country that is founded on freedom. You can’t turn a corner in Paris without seeing a building inscribed with the words “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” so you could be forgiven for assuming that an act like this would never be able to take place given this national ideal. Living in Paris, you hear many people complain about the various demonstrations and protests because they’ve disturbed the daily commute or you can’t cross the river because there is a march taking place. But I think it’s massively important that people can express their views in a peaceful and lawful manner. The attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is there to shock journalists and cartoonists into silence. As an aspiring writer and journalist I have been compelled to express my views on this subject. Freedom of debate and expression in the media is vital to a functioning society. I heard something that I thought was very poignant in relation to press regulation – “Don’t ban it, just don’t buy it”. I understand how the cartoons produced by the weekly satirical magazine might have been found offensive but if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Even better, if you really want to express your opinions then a peaceful protest is the way forward. There is a man outside the metro stop by uni who really doesn’t seem to like Francois Hollande which is his right. He stands there nearly every single day with his homemade signs expressing his political right to protest. If only more people were like him and could act in lawful ways to defend their rights. We must not let this subdue the press when actually these are the kinds of ideas they, in my opinion, should be challenging and writing about and not the kind of press that simply prints trashy stories about celebrities just because they sell better.
My thoughts are with the families of those killed and with Paris as a city mourns this sad loss.