Georgina Guedes

Je suis still Charlie Hebdo

2015-01-19 12:18

Georgina Guedes

In the wake of a momentous and horrific political event, there is a fairly predictable cycle of response and counter-response. This is usually indicative of good and healthy debate, as people refuse to accept the truths that they are fed and analyse different angles to every story.

It played out like this with the Paris shootings:

Horror: Look what happened at Charlie Hebdo!

Solidarity: I am Charlie #jesuischarlie

Mass hysteria: We are all Charlie

Contradiction: You are not Charlie, you are not brave enough or clever enough

Undermining: I never wanted to be Charlie anyway; Charlie is a racist bigot.

It's gone to our heads

While every round of analysis has brought new information and insights to light, I think that all of this "freedom of thought" we enjoy has gone to our heads a little.

There were articles about how we aren't brave enough or strong enough in our convictions to liken us to such satirical heroes.

And then there were articles about how we shouldn't want to liken ourselves to such racist Islamophobes anyway.

And then there were articles about how the people who think that Charlie Hebdo is racist aren't property understanding what is being satirised.

The argument about whether or not we are all Charlie Hebdo is ludicrous. ?#‎jesuischarlie wasn?'t a metaphor that stated that we are literally every one of those slain cartoonists, down to the type of toothpaste we use and how we tie our shoelaces.

What #jesuischarlie meant

It was a show of solidarity. It was saying that anyone who ever enjoyed freedom of speech and who expressed an opinion has been dealt a blow by what happened in Paris.

What happened there was an atrocity. It was a strike against human rights and freedoms and humanity as a whole, and we felt moved to express our association with that loss.

Any attempt to distance yourself from #jesuischarlie is denying the slayings were an undeserved horror and undermining the solidarity that was the only good thing that emerged from this.

Literal thinking

I’ve also seen articles saying that the cartoon response to the Charlie Hebdo killings – where pencils rained down like bombs on the jihadists or broken pencils were sharpened and became whole again – downplays the horror of the people whose homes are being bombed every day in this war.

Apparently, we will not win the war with pencils.

But here' s the thing. Again, I think everyone has started taking this all too literally. No one is saying that we will win our wars with pencils.

People are saying that terror will not still our hands and silence our thoughts. That we live in societies where speech and thought are free, and fundamentalists’ attempts to suppress this will not be successful. Try to silence us, and we'll shout louder and draw more.

There's a whole lot of extremely literal analysis going on about these cartoons, when we need to think in metaphors.

Cartoonists are brilliant at helping us see the world in this way.

What a tragedy that there are eight less of them in the world.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Send your comments to Georgina

News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.