i Editor's Letter: Charlie Hebdo and the battle against stupidity

Editors are now more determined to speak stridently, and show fearlessness in the face of bigotry

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The Independent Online

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will go to print next week, defying the Islamist extremists who murdered eight of its  journalists, a maintenance worker, a visitor and two police officers.

The edition will have a print run of one million copies, instead of the usual 60,000. A casualty doctor who writes for the title, Patrick Pelloux, explained: “We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but stupidity will not win.” Perhaps the pen can, yet, vanquish the Kalashnikov.

Will the attack affect editors’ decisions about what to publish? Not at this newspaper. If anything, editors will be more determined to  speak stridently, to show fearlessness in the face of bigotry. The target for satire here is not the Prophet, or Islam, or Muslims, but  a small group of psychopaths. That said, we don’t see a need to offer Islam greater protection from criticism than other religions.

 

A service was held yesterday at  the church over the road from i’s offices, St Mary Abbots, for those  murdered, their families and colleagues. Jenny Welsh, associate vicar, said: “We pray for journalists and those who work in all media, of all faiths – Christian, Muslim, Jew – and of none. For all victims of terrorism, violence, and oppression.”  Most of the people killed by extremists are Muslim. Their deaths attract little remark in the West.

Journalists, meanwhile, are society’s canaries down the mine, exposing wrongdoing, puncturing pomposity and prejudice, holding the powerful to account, and  generally doing much more good than bad. If you care about free speech, liberty, a tolerant, pluralist  society, then defend them – and the right to offend.

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