I confess I have never unfolded a copy of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, but I am quite familiar with the work of Wolinski, the 80-year-old cartoonist, who perished in the attack along with his colleagues. I liked his sense of humor and his cartoons a lot, and I am quite pissed off by those two morons taking that away from me.
However, there is a side view to the whole story which I want to rant about here. Today everybody seems on the side of Charlie Hebdo and the dead journalists and artists, and in a few days, when the next edition of the newspaper will hit the press halved in number of pages, it is widely expected that a million copies will be sold. Around the world people are raising pencils and vowing "I am charlie hebdo". It would be all very good, but I do not think this emotional reaction pictures the situation quite precisely.
The fact is, satire is something that hurts. Charlie Hebdo's satire hurt the muslims, and a few fanatics decided to retaliate in the only way they know how to do it - with guns. But the same satire also hurt other classes of people, very democratically and transversally; and in several cases reactions were not as bloody but almost as hot. Here I want to point out that if we believe in the freedom of expression and thought, and in the freedom of the press - if we really believe in it, that is, and stand by its defense, well - then we should accept that it sometimes hurt us as well, without making a big fuss of it.
To understand what I mean take the cartoon below. If you are a religious Christian, you might find the cartoon offensive and inflamatory; even if you aren't, you might find it of bad taste, to say the least. If you are like me, you might smile at the concept and chuckle by observing a few details (say, the holes in the extremities of JC, or the triangle's action). I wonder how many of those who are raising their pencils today would have shrugged their shoulders yesterday upon seeing this cartoon.