Monday, January 12, 2015
Just like last year, I made New Year resolutions. To exercise more, to eat less, to actually complete my WW11 novel (and find a publisher for it) and to resurrect my blog. The latter has tragically proved much easier, as the events in France of the last few days has spurred me into action. For anyone who believes in the freedom of speech(and that must mean anyone who blogs, tweets, or posts on social sites such as Facebook) the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo is an attack on us all....hence 'Je Suis Charlie Hebdo'. We are all Charlie Hebdo To be honest I'm not a great fan of French satire, and I often found Charlie Hebdo went beyond the bounds of good taste, but as Voltaire famously said: I may not agree with you, but I will defend to death your right to say it'..... or something on those lines. France has a long and proud history of satirists, as does Britain. Where would we be without the likes of Hogarth … or Spitting Image? Going back as far as the eighteenth century, in England satirists regularly lampooned the bloated, lascivious Prince Regent, the feckless son of George the Third. Without cartoonists of the day filling the pages of newspapers with outrageous images of the Prince's latest bit of bad behaviour, there would have been little else of interest for coffee shop society to gossip about. Christians have had more than their fair share of piss-taking, but we tend to suck it up, taking it with a wry smile, or being offended for a while but, by and large, we are 'big' enough to get over it. We certainly don't feel the need to go out and kill for our faith. I fundamentally disagree with the brand of so-called 'Christianity' put out by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their manipulation of the bible is nothing short of disgraceful, and it's a subject I've argued with them on my doorstep for years (never invite them in, or you're doomed). If the truth be told I quite enjoy a verbal wresting match with a pair of dedicated Jehovahs, especially when they turn puce with anger at my own (inflated)opinions. But however much I detest their warped(and dangerous) philosophy, actually killing them for views which are totally contrary to mine is against most human principles. Nowhere in the Koran does it condone the killing of anyone. In fact the Koran and the Bible share many moral ideals – something that should bind us together rather than divide us. We must all stand up to the threat of extremism and continue to exercise our fundamental right to freedom of speech. It is, after all, one of the few freedoms we have left. For anyone living in France - buy a copy of Charlie Hebdo next week. You may not have ever bought one before... you may not like the concept of the publication.... but you will be putting up the proverbial two fingers to the extremists who are trying to silence freedom of opinion. It isn't the right time to wish everyone a happy New Year, but I wish you all a year in which writers, and artists can continue to write and draw in freedom.