The events in Paris at the headquarters for Charlie Hebdo a few weeks ago were reprehensible. The perpetrators’ disregard for human life and blatant contempt for free speech disturbs modern sensibilities. Any violence committed in the name of censorship reminds us, both as men and women and as members of the Fourth Estate, that an attack on journalism is an attack on the public.
In an attempt to summarize the philosophy of Voltaire, biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
These simple words reveal a sacred truth of journalism. Regardless of the content or manner of expression, no individual or entity, has the right to suppress another’s speech. We might not agree with everything we read or see, but in keeping with the ideals of a free society, we must permit all people their voice. To put qualifications on that principle is unacceptable.
We conceded that Charlie Hebdo is a problematic publication. But problematic magazines, troublesome articles and disagreeable ideas should never be silenced in the name of neutrality. Charlie Hebdo‘s editors, cartoonists and writers aim to generate offensive and controversial content, and they have every right to do so. That is a right we, The Transcript editorial staff, know is worth defending.
We are not Charlie.
We are journalists.