Journalism and Satire: Critical Forms of Nonviolence Under Attack

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Image Courtesy of KOMUNews

The pen is still mightier than the sword, even in the face of the brutal murders of twelve journalists/cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper today. And yes, for those who wonder, Muslim leaders across the globe are denouncing this heinous act of barbarism. I join them in revulsion, shock, anger, sadness, and the hope that the culprits are captured quickly and brought to justice.

These have been horrible times for those who practice journalism, including those who do so through satire. According to Reporters Without Borders, sixty-six journalists were killed in 2014, including the horrific beheadings of James Folie and Steven Sotloff. And now 2015 rings in with this tragedy. I’ve never been comfortable with reading that some world leader, including our own, responded to attacks of this nature by calling the attackers “cowardly.” Today, however, that is exactly the word that comes to mind. Attacking a group of unarmed journalists and cartoonists is cowardly. It is also an attack on everyone’s freedom.
Today my prayers will be with the families, friends, and colleagues of those who were killed and injured. I’m also incredibly grateful for all of the people who put their lives in harm’s way to bring light where others would prefer the truth to be hidden. And I’m also grateful to those who take on the powers that be through the incredible art of cartooning.
Violence may have silenced those who were killed today but thousands of more people will rise up with pens and mice and whatever other tools are needed to speak truth to power, shame the shameless, and ridicule the ridiculous. Throughout history, those with weapons that kill have tried to silence those who use nonviolence. In the end, we have to remind ourselves that violence is not the answer… it will not prevail.