By now you know about what happened in Paris yesterday. The truth is too awful – 12 people are dead because of a senseless act at the offices of a French magazine, where people were simply using their talents and the ideas in their heads in order to COMMUNICATE. Putting pen to paper and sharing the opinions and ways of looking at the world that they felt were important to share. People who wanted to look, did. And people who didn’t want to see, simply didn’t look. 

And then 3 masked gunmen came along and shot up the place, because they weren’t content with simply Not Looking. And I don’t want to focus on them or think about them because they are less than insignificant and do not deserve any more words.

The pen, not the sword

So what I want to think about instead is the thousands of people gathering as I write this, on the evening of the horrific gun attack, in public places in Paris, in London, in Berlin – each holding a single pen aloft in a gesture that says to the extremists who did this, and to the world ‘No, I shall not be moved. Je suis Charlie.’ 

Getty Images
Getty Images

This gesture renders a cold blooded attack utterly pointless. It will not do the thing it was intended to do. The pen wielding world will not shut up, they will not sit down and they will not be quiet. Satire and opinion and free speech will not stop being expressed, the world will not stop having a sense of humour. In fact the opposite will happen now. Dear Gunmen Who Did This (and Dear Extremists Everywhere for that matter): in trying to silence the free press, you have made them stronger and their voices clearer and more insistent. So well done. 

Don’t sit down, don’t shut up 

To everyone out there who expresses their opinion freely, in whatever form you choose to do it, you are contributing to a world in which everybody is free to think and to feel and to have a voice and to interpret the Universe and our choices and lifestyles in a way that we can understand, and share that interpretation so that others can better understand it too. And then they can make up their own minds about whether or not they agree. But to try to silence others purely for their chosen expression of an idea or a belief…there are no adjectives strong enough for how wrong that is. And no, actually, I don’t think that God, or Allah, or the prophet Mohammed, or whoever you choose to believe in, is remotely looking down and feeling pleased with what you’ve done today. Because what a cowardly act – to favour silencing an opponent instead of putting forward your own opinion in a reasoned and well thought out way. How can we ever take your opinions seriously if you use violence to express them? Whatever it is you’re trying to prove – you are failing and will continue to fail. 

Cartoonists respond immediately
Cartoonists respond immediately

Meanwhile, art and journalism and the combining of these two mediums to share ideas and provoke thought and social change will continue, and it will grow stronger. We will still write words and draw pictures that mean something. We will still hold our pens up really high in the air and it won’t hurt anyone. 

And we will stand together, in whatever we choose to do and whatever opinions we choose to express, whether that be politics and religion, or, like right here at the High Tea Cast, lifestyle and the ways in which we decide to go about our business, adorn ourselves and the ideas we take from music and television to put inside our heads to make them richer and brighter and more colourful. I’m certainly never going to shut up. Neither is the free press. And the world is much better because of that. 

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