I am sitting, writing at my desk, joined to countless others who are also writing, all over the world. If we are so inclined, we may even write something offensive, rude, ignorant, maybe even deplorable. Would we expect criticism? Yes, absolutely, we’re writers and thinkers, so we would welcome it. We might argue our side, debate with you our opinions, correct your glaring omissions and false assumptions.

Would we expect to die?

The most disgusting reaction to the Charlie Hebdo murders is a proliferation of victim blaming. Write something that offends, the maxim states, and you deserve to be attacked. It seems that we have actually descended into barbarism as a society. Is it now more important to make sure we don’t offend extremist terrorists and in doing so completely capitulate? Why are we so utterly broken as a society that we allow ourselves to bow to the demands of these people?

I don’t need to waffle about freedom of speech here. Violence is abhorrent, end of. If you murder someone for writing, you are repugnant. If you’re burning a mosque you equally inspire the sum of my disgust. When we (the royal we that is, not you and I, we’re just complicit in all of this) blow things up around the world, it’s equally horrific. Yet somehow, despite all the nasty people doing nasty things they do, some believe that offending with words is a bigger deal. In their minds, if you write something offensive, you get what you deserve.

I think most people will react to something that offends them in a rational way. They may ensure never to see it again. They might protest, or challenge the offending item. They might use their thoughts and hearts to produce something that overwhelms the source of offence. An irrational way to react would be to murder the person who created the thing that offends you. That’s it, rationality. We don’t have any left.

To the creators at Charlie Hebdo, and to anyone else who has died, rest in peace and thank you. You are all martyrs. Martyrs to the madness that consumes our world. It doesn’t outweigh the sadness of knowing that your martyrdom is in vain.

I am sitting, writing at my desk, joined to countless others who are also writing, all over the world. We have tears in our eyes.


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