The madness erupting in Europe this week serves as a reminder that we are always at risk when we express ourselves. Freedom of the press often ensures some highly unsavory activities are permissible. Granted, there are times when I am sure our forefathers did not intend for the freedom to mean some of the things it does today. Nevertheless, it is an absolute in a free society. Some people push the envelop just to provoke a response. However, the response should never include murder – this is not justifiable. We will either be a civilized world or we will be a world of lunatics and, frankly, I choose the former. I hope you do too.
What are cartoons? They are symbolic scribbling on paper that tell stories or serve as satire or to vent our political angst. Satirists have long pushed the dialogue in ways that make some people laugh and other people wince or squirm. Targets are social issues, politics, religion, the economy and the government.
Around the first century B.C. Roman satirist Juvenal took aim at people and institutions mocking them in parodies that made them look incompetent and absurd. Juvenalian satire is, by its nature, pessimistic and ironic. It conveys a sense of moral outrage and deemphasizes humor. It can be, due to it’s nature, extremely polarizing and may be funny, annoying and at times maddening. Yes, it can make you mad – actually it is suppose to at times. You may even consider it blasphemy. But provoke you to murder? Never.
Let us all mark these tragic deaths in France this week with sorrow and condolences followed by a renewed commitment to free speech lest our way of life be overtaken by extremists.