Freedom of expression. Most of us take this for granted.
“I can say what I want, when I want, damn the consequences.”
As a journalist, I believe whole-heartedly in the freedom of expression as well as the freedom of the press. How could we make informed decisions if half our news stories were censored? We all have a right to know what is going on, no matter how ugly the truth.
What if we were too afraid to run a story? “A journalist always protects his or her source.” But who protects the journalist? What if we were too afraid to write or draw? Afraid of the consequences, retribution, prosecution. Afraid of offending the wrong people? Afraid of being silenced forever for speaking/writing/drawing our mind. The oppressors would win.
The staff at French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo didn’t fear – and still don’t fear – anyone. Everybody was fair game for their caricatures. Powerful and important people, events, various news items, religious beliefs and deities – controversy is always good for business. Their offices were fire bombed before, threats had been issued against staff members. Editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, Stéphane Charbonnier was placed on al-Qaeda’s most wanted list in 2013. Did that stop them? No, it didn’t.