Religious Rights, Freedom of Speech, and Zealots.

The greatest fear a writer may justifiably have is being taken out of context. Being misunderstood is a hazard one undertakes when they put their words in writing. Words alone are the most ineffective method to convey meaning. Not every reader has the same cultural or gender bias to perceive precisely what it is that an author conveys when he puts words on a page. He is bound by the very limitations if his language. Alas, his frustration lies in his belief that he can reach his audience. If he can hold his readers attention long enough, capture the mind’s eye with scene after scene of vivid detail that paints an enchanting or lesser opaque setting, engage her with natural spontaneous dialog, hit a universal thought in a metaphor then, and only then, may he deliver the quintessential message or lesson he attempted. If he writes: I am not Charlie Hedbo, under a caricature of a Muslim prophet, and expects every reader to understand that he is espousing a universal concept of freeom of speech when some have never had it and could be put to death for merely saying they agree or not with the concept within their own community, then, if his intent was to reach that disenfranchised reader to show the fallacy of his religious beliefs, he has failed. As Pope Francis points out: to insult another’s faith is simply wrong.

This is not a discussion of the rights of the press in the free world, nor is it a good attempt by free men to persuade a culturally enslaved people to rebel against their traditions. The terrorists that killed innocent journalists and bystanders are simply evil. Maligned zealots that did nothing except to polarize peoples of different faiths and countries, to isolate and insulate them from each other, and feel hostility and alienation. That’s the real issue–terrorism, not whether the press is endangered for printing what they want. How can all these great writers hone in on one fine point and miss the fact that Charlie Hedbo, like them, failed, unless their point was to enrage a bull with a red flag waving it around in his face until he charges. By saying we’re not Charlie Hedbo under cover of a caricature of Charlie Hedbo artwork without more leaves one reader clueless as to what the hell happened.

All Journalists pride themselves in effective writing. If this kind of journalism was to awaken Muslims to the fallacies of religion, or simply making fun of it to amuse nonbelievers, it wasn’t funny nor effective. If the purpose of language is to communicate malcontent it failed. Writing is a hindered one form of communication, imperiled by cultural diversity and language barriers. Perhaps we should all strive for some universal concept that truly relays the point.

A better attempt to relate what happened in the Charlie Hedbo massacre might have been: God is saddened today. His children died; and leave the cover blank.



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