Managing Editor takes stance on Charlie Hebdo

Jan. 21, 2015

By Josh Hafemeister

As many have heard by now, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked earlier this month. Twelve staff members were killed and several more wounded, according to an article by Catherine E. Shoichet and Josh Levs of CNN. Days later, al Qaeda leader Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the violence was in response to the satirical magazine’s less-than-kind depiction of Prophet Mohammed.

Charlie Hebdo isn’t known for being a neutral, opinion-free magazine. They make satire, and nothing, including religion, is off limits to them. In retrospect, should the magazine have redacted its images and taken a more neutral stance?

Josh Hafemeister

A few months ago I wrote a column about the gamergate controversy. As I wrote it, I strove to keep opinion out of it and simply report on what I found. I may have disagreed with some of what the movement said, and still do, but that wasn’t the purpose of the column. So I remained neutral.

In the back of my head, however, I knew I would still receive flack for what I wrote. I would get hate mail. I knew there was even a chance I’d receive threats. It seemed everyone else who spoke up about gamergate would get flack, why not me? But I wrote it anyway.

Publication came and went, and I was thoroughly surprised when I received none of that. No hate mail. No threats. Nothing.

Was it because I was a guy? Did my biological makeup protect me? Or was it that I succeeded in doing my job and remained neutral in my column? I cannot say.

Should I even worry about how others will react to my writings?
Well, no, and neither should Charlie Hebdo. Why should we?

Attacks on free speech and the media are a common move by terrorists and dictators. Recent examples include numerous beheadings of journalists in the Middle East, the cyberattacks and threats of violence against theaters for Sony’s “The Interview.”

In history, free speech has been attacked in instances such as Nazi Germany’s infamous book burning, or in the case of U.S. newspapers coming under attack for publishing anti-slavery rhetoric in the 1800s.
The worst thing we can do is surrender to their demands and curb our speech. The damage can be irreparable.

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