January 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
Je suis Charlie
Charlie Hebdo, gay news, Washington Blade

Charlie Hebdo in 2011 published a cartoon on its cover that featured Stephane Charbonnier kissing a man dressed in traditional Muslim clothing under the headline ‘Love is stronger than hate.’ (Image from Charlie Hebdo)

Last week’s cowardly attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the ensuing drama are a painful reminder that freedom of speech often carries a heavy price.

It’s not the first time that Islamist extremists have targeted their critics — who fight with pens and paper and video — with deadly violence. And it certainly won’t be the last.

The sheer horror of the attack should resonate with journalists everywhere. When journalists become the target of attack, the intent is to silence critics. It’s more important than ever that journalists give voice to those standing up to this heinous behavior. The reaction — at least from Europeans — has been reassuring and overwhelmingly affirming. An estimated one million people marched peacefully in Paris over the weekend. Among them were world leaders, including Angela Merkel of Germany and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. But conspicuously missing from the march was any senior member of the Obama administration. It was a mindboggling mistake for the United States to be absent from such a high-profile show of support for our oldest ally.

And America’s mainstream media aren’t faring much better. The Washington Post, New York Times and Associated Press have declined to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that helped inspire the attack. Those same outlets have gone into great detail describing the cartoons, so why not publish them?

“None of the images distributed by AP showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad,” an AP spokesperson said. “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.”

This sudden hyper-sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities is hypocritical at best. From images of Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” to photos of Westboro Baptist Church’s virulently anti-LGBT protests, the AP has never shown such restraint before. The blackout on these cartoon images extends to broadcast and cable TV, with all major networks refusing to show them. Mainstream media outlets are infantilizing American audiences with this misguided policy rooted in fear. The entire world is talking about these images. It’s the story. So show them!

In 2011, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon on its cover that featured Stephane Charbonnier kissing a man dressed in traditional Muslim clothing under the headline ‘Love is stronger than hate.’ Charbonnier was the magazine’s editor and was killed in the attack last week. We republish that image here in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and those who died.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

2 Comments
  • So what they didn't show up. It wasn't a 'MUST'! What is so mind boggling about this? Obama is DAMNED if he do and DAMNED if he doesn't! I will be so glad when he leaves. Why the GOP didn't attend? While the murders were horrendous and those terrorists got what they deserved. Has anyone ever asked why the French treat Muslim people like dogs? After the attacks 2 Muslim mosques were fire bombed by right wing French extremists. Where was the media? And to add 60% of France prison population is People of Middle Eastern, East African decent. Sounds a lot like America HUH?

  • "So what they didn't show up. It wasn't a 'MUST'!"

    "Has anyone ever asked why the French treat Muslim people like dogs? After the attacks 2 Muslim mosques were fire bombed by right wing French extremists…60% of France prison population is People of Middle Eastern, East African decent."
    –Efrem
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    On your first point, you're very mistaken. It was a diplomatic and security gaffe by an administration too prone to such gaffes. Kerry trying to soft-pedal it only highlights the goof more. Duh. Americans ought never be seen as cowering in the face of terrorism.
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    As to the rest….
    2 mosques fire bombed VS. 12 people violently murdered, 4 more critically injured? How about adding to that the brazen, violent assault on a free press and freedom of expression?
    ˙
    Is yours a serious attempt at a 'moral equivalence' argument? And are you seriously trying to paint the French people as wild-eyed, right-wing-nuts? As knee-jerk colonial racists and Islamaphobes? Latter day, storm-trooper oppressors of the poor Islamic masses?
    ˙
    My guess is that most French would logically now see the prison statistic you cited as being terrific proof of what a failure decades of too-lenient French immigration and homeland security policy has been.
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    Moreover, I think Bill Mahr had it right this week. A collective F-bomb is in order — along with the millions of Je suis Charlies.

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