Opinion: Je Suis Charlie. Nous Sommes Charlie

Mike Richards is a senior English major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Mike Richards

I’m going to skip the lead where I tell you about the events occurring in France right now in relation to the shooting at Charlie Hebdo. I like to assume in a week’s time, that we’ve all at least taken a sip of the news, especially that which headlines every outlet. 

Instead, let’s talk about freedoms, religion, and justice and so forth. Everyone’s favorite topics, right?

In my Shakespeare class this past Tuesday, we were posed with what were basically existential questions: “How do we know anything?” “Can we know anything?” and “Can we truly know anyone or the universe?” 

Through the dull and quiet roar of the class, of which whose own existences were being questioned, came a question in relation to determining justice. I took a branch from that and asked, “How can we know what is right or wrong? Are there universals, or are they only relative?”

If you have followed my columns from last semester, I wrote on the Reza Aslan/Bill Maher debate in regards to religion. I still stand by my idea that it’s not the religion at fault but only the individual. Al-Qaeda has come forth and assumed responsibility and has said that this was a plan in the making. 

I am not a religious scholar, but through looking into the ideas behind what would be any religion, it does not universally become fact that murder is taught and deemed acceptable. This is not even in the “gray area” of thought. It’s just not true. 

But it takes more than myself to try and get people to read and research a little bit. It takes more than just the news outlets to do it as well. 

I am privileged enough to be allowed the opportunity to give my opinions on matters, whether local, national or international. I also don’t assume that everyone agrees with me. 

Lesson #1 of the day: That’s what we call “opinions.”

Charlie Hebdo does not refrain from only satirizing just Islam, but it also pokes fun at plenty other religions. This is a left-wing publication, and with those ideals, it attempts to deliver a social criticism on religion, politics and society itself. 

Lesson #2 of the day: “Satire” is a common expression to bring not only humor, but open the eyes of the reader(s) to what is going on around them through artistic mediums.

These lessons are simple.

Lesson #3 of the day: Everything is subjective. Everything.

There will be no universal agreements in the world, amongst every people, and that’s how it should be. An individual has the right to express his or herself, but it is when rights come under attack (sometimes literally attacked) that we create societal problems. 

We can create change if we want it, and only if we try. Stand by your given right to express yourself. 

I am Charlie. We are Charlie.