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The recent violence against the staff at the Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, was shocking to us all, and I am deeply saddened for the people who perished in the violence and for their family members.
The tragic event prompted the largest public demonstration in France’s history on January 11 in Paris, with over 2 million people, 40 major world leaders, and nearly 4 million participants in similar demonstrations across France. Protesters in other cities across the globe also rallied across in solidarity with France. The phrase Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) was a common slogan of support at these rallies and across social media channels.
Je suis Charlie has now come to symbolize the fight for freedom of speech: the right to say what one chooses to say without fear of being punished. It is one of the most treasured freedoms in the world. Like many translators and interpreters, I am fortunate to live in a country where we can openly celebrate this freedom of expression.
To be honest, the material presented in Charlie Hebdo isn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps the satirical cartoons are beyond my intellectual capabilities, or maybe I lack the understanding of the cultural and political nuisances presented in this very French publication, or possibly I’m just a prude. Don’t get me wrong; I believe deeply in freedom of speech, but also in responsibility and accountability.
In fact, it is in the spirit of freedom of expression that I choose not to disseminate material that ridicules anyone’s religious or political leaders. This type of material will not make its way into the Translation Journal, and I have declined and will continue to decline submissions to this journal that many would find offensive.
I am curious to hear your thoughts about freedom of speech, censorship, and what the phrase Je suis Charlie means to you. Was anyone at the rally in France? Are there any regular Charlie Hebdo readers who would like to comment?
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