Je Suis Charlie … and the right and duty to speak out

I have made it a general rule that I will refrain from making any political comment on my blog … but yesterday’s attack in Paris on the offices of Charlie Hebdo made me decide to break that rule. Like the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks, this was an attack on more than just a single target; it was an attack on the belief system, culture, and civilisation of which I am a part. I do not claim that that they are in any way superior to anyone else’s, but I do feel that they are worth protecting.

I have never read Charlie Hebdo – in fact before yesterday I had never even heard of it – and if I had I might not have liked any or all of its content … but that is not the point. We are supposed to live in a society where other people are allowed to hold and express opinions that might be repugnant to us as individuals because allowing them that freedom allows us the freedom to hold and express our own opinions. (I must add the caveat that holding and expressing any opinion does not excuse the holder from criminal prosecution if that opinion has been deemed to be unlawful by society as a whole.)

As Pastor Martin Niemöller once said:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out …
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out …
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out …
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

So today I will be joining lots of other people and speaking out:


It goes without saying that my condolences and sympathy go out to the families of the people who were killed.

As I was writing this blog entry, I just heard the news that there had been a further fatal shooting in Paris. We can but hope that this incident is unrelated to yesterday’s events.

20 Comments on “Je Suis Charlie … and the right and duty to speak out”

  1. Hear, hear!

    — Jeff

  2. If it was intended to stifle free speech, it's gone very wrong:

    'Meanwhile, the lawyer for Charlie Hebdo, Richard Malka, confirmed that next week's edition of the magazine would go ahead on Wednesday and would have a print run of one million, instead of the normal 60,000 copies.'

    Je suis Charlie

  3. Je suis Charlie.. It could just so easily have been “Private Eye”

  4. guy says:

    Well said Bob. I am probably one of the least political people going but sometimes in life you have to stand up and be counted. This is one of those occasions. Totally right to put this on your blog.

    I too have never heard of this magazine before yesterday but if they print a million copies I for sure will buy one. I might have to dig out my old French dictionary but that is another matter….So je suis Charlie.


  5. To everyone who has commented …


  6. Xaltotun of Python,

    If a copy is on sale in the UK and I can buy it … I will do so.

    All the best,


  7. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    I must admit to having had a similar thought.

    I wonder how the 'Eye' will mark the decimation of its French equivalent?

    All the best,


  8. Guy,

    I have have had to deal with politicians during my working career, and it has given me a general dislike of the breed and politics in general … but when something like this happens, I feel that everyone needs to stand up and be counted.

    If a copy of Charlie Hebdo is on sale somewhere where I can buy it, I will do so.

    All the best,


  9. Chris says:

    To voice everyone else: well said!

  10. Chris,

    Thanks. I just thought that it had to be said.

    All the best,


  11. Fitz-Badger says:

    Like you and others, I had never heard of them before either, but I totally agree with what you wrote in this blog post.
    If I can buy a copy I will, too.

  12. Fitz-Badger,

    Nous sommes tous Charlie!

    All the best,


  13. Freedom of speech is important and I support all those who carry the “je suis Charlie” to the world however Edmund Burke is reputed to have said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Yesterday in paris a muslim policeman lived upto that statement and he paid with his life!. His contribution is significantly more important . so I guess I have to say “JE SUIS AHMED MERABET”

  14. Robert De Angelis,

    You are absolutely right! Ahmed Merabet died protecting the freedoms we all enjoy. His sacrifice should be remembered just as much as the deaths of the other people who died yesterday.


    All the best,


  15. Dr Andrew Adey,

    Nous sommes tous Charlie.

    All the best,


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