I am not Charlie

Though I find it abhorrent that the staff of the Charlie Hebdo magazine were ruthlessly murdered by fanatical Muslims, I can’t hold up a pen with the masses and announce, “I am Charlie.”

While many will disagree with me, I feel there are limits and boundaries that we should not cross in our speech, video making, and writing.  Expression of any kind must be balanced, with the understanding that what and how we express ourselves can have profound impact on others.

I am no fan of Islam but this does not mean that I will go out of my way to offend Muslim sensibilities in my desire to expose the problems of this religion.  Drawing satirical cartoon figures of a naked Muhammad to make my point would be unthinkable, and not only because I would be in fear that I would wake up with my head next to my torso.

No, I feel it is wrong to offend in this way and not “loving your neighbor as yourself.”  Muslims, like Christians, Jews and every other faith member, have strong and passionate beliefs.  Whether or not we agree with everything a member of another faith believes, to mock, ridicule and demean the faith of another is not an effective bridge builder.

Charlie Hebdo is a fireman that seeks to put out fires with gasoline, a peculiarly unwise methodology of fire suppression.   Their over the top “free speech” and complete disregard for the feelings and passions of all religious people make them a target of the kind of people that went on that deplorable rampage.

And they don’t seem to learn; now, they plan to print 3 million copies of their magazine when their normal print run is 60,000, showing a cartoon of a crying Muhammad, further inflaming the sentiments of Muslims worldwide.

This is foolishness.  Twelve members of their magazine have already been murdered, yet they double down and print more of the same offensive material that resulted in the untimely deaths of their fellow journalists.  Where is the wisdom in this?  It’s craziness and sheer folly, more gasoline poured onto an already raging bonfire.

Freedom comes with responsibility.  One of the glaring weaknesses of a society that enshrines “freedom of speech” is that some throw commonsense out the door and believe that saying or writing anything about anybody is permissible, no matter how offensive.

But in our daily interactions with people, we intuitively know that this does not work.  For example, if two people are in an argument and one person calls the other person’s mother or daughter a slut that sleeps with every man in town, what will be the expected reaction?  That’s right…a trip to the hospital or the morgue.

The cartoonists and writers of Charlie Hebdo need to step back and grow up, before there are no more hands to hold the pens that draw their cartoons.

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