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Charlie Hebdo massacre fails to silence free speech

We are not afraid.
Last week, 12 people lost their lives simply because they were associated with a magazine that displayed a caricature that upset two gunmen.
This act of terror was a malicious act of retaliation to avenge the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that have been displayed in Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine.
No person should ever have to fear repercussions as drastic as death when writing, drawing or speaking. As an opinion columnist, it’s hard to imagine living in a world where doing my job could result in being killed. Unfortunately, this is the reality that so many people face  in the world today.
We cannot allow fear to silence our opinions, our future leaders or our current leaders of social movement. We must now more than ever speak louder than before. We will speak louder through print and through movements such as the protests in France urging the public to not accept intolerance of freedom of speech.
Though we may have been knocked down momentarily by this act of terror, we will not remain down. It is time for us to stand up, dust ourselves off and speak our minds. I for one will never fear to speak my mind and express my opinion. Instead, I fear the reality of our world where others opinions are hindered and silenced due to their own fear of being killed.
Where will our publications and news be in the future if we continue to head toward this downward spiral?
Unfiltered writing is hard to come by even today in the United States. If we continue to conform to what is considered “correct” by society, we can only expect gutless cookie cutter articles to become even more prominent than they are now. By ceasing to express our opinions in the form of written word, we let these 12 who have passed to have died in vain. By cowering to these acts of terror, we are letting the gunmen win by showing them that these actions are in fact a successful way to prevent personal opinions from being heard.
Writing is not the only form that will suffer if we remain quiet and afraid of expressing our own creativity. An occurrence that has happened recently in our own country earlier this year is the death threats that provoked Sony into pulling its movie, “The Interview”, from even being released publicly in theaters. I hope we never meet a world where we are unable to escape from the daily grind by going to the movies, because we as a whole have been censored to the point of no return. Production companies should not have to pull their movies from theaters because of death threats. Just as journalists should not have to fear their own lives over just doing their job and writing with passion.
Instead of adhering to political norms and censoring our own pieces of writing, we must press on and continue to write our thoughts, our own truths, and we must write these thoughts in bold for all to see. This is the only way we can honor the deaths of these people and ensure that satirical writing and people’s opinions won’t submit to becoming a lost art form. We will not allow freedom of speech to succumb to becoming a privilege we tell our children we had once upon a time.
We are far from our full potential as a society and we will never advance if we silence the thoughts of others. As a whole, we are much stronger when we each bring our own intellectual thoughts to the table. By taking one person’s opinion as fact and not exploring other possibilities, we are demolishing our melting pot of ideas and opinions that is our world.
We will continue to speak up because we are not afraid.

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