The courage of the Charlie Hebdo staff is deservedly admired. The terrorists’ murder of them is deservedly abhorred. The event galvanized an international commitment to free speech: “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). In support of free speech, “Je suis Charlie,” also.
However, I don’t support Charlie’s senseless abuse of anyone’s cherished beliefs. Nothing is gained by denigrating and insulting what another holds dear.
Additionally, even small children know that if the neighborhood bully is vicious and unrestrained when provoked, you don’t antagonize him.
If the Charlie Hebdo staff wanted to risk their lives or to martyr themselves, that is their business. But none of us live in a vacuum. We’re all responsible for ourselves and responsible to other people. Being responsible requires that your considerations extend beyond your own interests.
The Charlie staff took six other people with them: two Paris policemen and four shoppers in a market, who didn’t seek martyrdom. These were six unlucky people, who were loved and needed by other unlucky people.
Just because you have the right to do something, it doesn’t make it right to do it.
In this sense, I am not Charlie.