A Response to and Challenge about the Charlie Hebdo Killings

France Newspaper AttackI’m posting this with the permission of Robin Einzig, a brilliant and creative friend of mine, who posted this on FaceBook today. Robin is a deep thinker, as you’ll be able to tell. I have committed to do this. I wonder if any of my fellow bloggers will as well. To me, it’s a true exercise in the power of free speech.


Here’s an idea.

I’ve been thinking about what I–and we–can do to honor the lives and work of the writers and artists who were killed so savagely yesterday in Paris. I’ve been thinking of the incredible risk-taking inherent in satire (many thanks to Andy Borowitz, here). And what these sorts of attacks mean for freedom of speech, which I think is eroding in the US as well. I’ve been thinking about the rampant and perhaps all too casual use of “Je Suis Charlie.”

So here’s a thought. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try to either draw a cartoon (as terrible an illustrator as I am) or write a short satirical piece focusing on a “sacred cow”, things we’re not supposed to say, things that I realize people would get really angry or even attack me about. I’m going to take time to notice the discomfort involved in even coming up with an idea and beginning, much less finishing (I actually feel that discomfort even in just writing this.) I’m going to notice how much fear there is in even just drawing/writing it, and how much more fear there is in even considering sharing it with anyone. I realize there’s probably a 2% chance, if that, that I will share it with anyone…because actually, chances are I would get attacked. Not physically, but surely verbally and socially. Yes, maybe even by *you.* Lastly, I will focus on the feelings of anger that arise when someone makes fun of something about *me* or people I love and the ways in which–albeit on a different scale–that response makes me no different than yesterday’s killers. Do YOU have a sense of humor about things that are dear to you? Are there things that are “never funny?” What are the groups or demographics that make you feel most threatened?

I invite anyone and everyone to join me–and if you like the idea, I encourage you to share this status, which I’ve changed to public. You can do it and never show it to anyone. Just do it and notice and honor the feelings. See what it feels like to speak out when you’re not supposed to, using humor and cleverness.

If enough people are interested or do it, I will set up an anonymous blog site where people can post their work, with or without attribution.

Who’s in?

Let me know.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Maynard, MA, with my wife and and our two moose-cats, Samson and Hercules. My daughter used to live with me part-time, but she's all grown up now and in her junior year of college, which I can't quite fathom, since she was born about five minutes ago...
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