Thursday, 8 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Let’s start with the painfully obvious. I’m not an artist, not a cartoonist. A couple of times I’ve talked about The Writerverse, the idea of there being a collective universe that writers inhabit, a community in which we share our creativity and have shoulders to cry on. The other day I posted a rant about European Union VAT regulations, standing in solidarity with artists. Today, I wish to posit the existence of a Creativerse (a horrible jamming together of words, this is a working title for now) as creatives of every ilk stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, victims of a heinous act of terrorism.

Twelve people killed in the attack. All because three men – who don’t deserve to be credited with belonging to a Middle Eastern religion – thought it would make their deity happy to grab a couple of Kalashnikovs and jam down on the trigger. It has provoked some deeply heart-wrenching responses from the wider community of cartoonists and artists, a small sample of which can be found in this Buzzfeed article.

I was born in the tail end of the 1980s, I wasn’t old enough to remember one of the darker aspects of Northern Ireland’s history known here as “The Troubles”. I dimly remember the 1998 Omagh bombing. One thing I can recall is that during the height of The Troubles, your religious affiliation – Protestant or Catholic specifically – could, in certain parts of Northern Ireland, result in some pretty grievous harm upon your person. But no one pointed to the Vatican and said “This is your fault!” No one pointed to the Church of England and branded them as extremists promoting the murder of innocent people. So this part of the post is kind of my disclaimer of sorts. Islam isn’t responsible for this. Three idiots who thought they were acting in the best interests of that religion did this, three idiots whose minds have been twisted by insidious propaganda did this. All because they can’t take a joke. I’m fairly sure their prophet would be able to rise about it. Christians would tell you Jesus would just rise above it. And their religion was responsible for starting countless wars in Medieval times.

There’s a comic from The Oatmeal that sums all this up quite neatly. It carries the fitting title “How to suck at your religion”.

Today I stand in solidarity with cartoonists, artists and creatives of every kind, with the staff of Charlie Hebdo. My thoughts are with the families and colleagues of those lost at Charlie Hebdo and the families and colleagues of the brave officers of the French police. One of the wisest things I read today was from a friend’s friend’s comment on a Facebook post. “Can silence the one. But not the many.” Three men have silenced twelve voices. Thousands more will rise to take their place and will not be silenced.

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