A few brief thoughts about what’s been happening in France this week.

I suppose the big pink elephant in the living room as far as topics for this blog go would be the shit that’s been going on in Paris this past week. I’ve been reluctant to comment on it. I know I pledged a while back that I wouldn’t stop writing about something just because everybody else has. But honestly, what could I say about this subject that I haven’t already said? I already covered religion on a general level, so take any vitriol I have towards zealots and multiply it tenfold for extremists. I’m a pacifist so I already covered the violence angle as well. I do wonder about what level of security Charlie Hebdo already had considering they knew how extremists might act—but this is, of course, saying so after the fact, and I don’t want to be disrespectful towards the victims and their families.

Another detriment towards writing about the subject is just how fast-paced the constantly updating story is progressing. As I write this French authorities believe that they have killed the terrorists directly responsible for the shooting. Still, they likely acted on behalf of a larger organization that may have roots in the Middle East, which we now see can clearly conduct acts of violence in Europe—demonstrating how far-reaching this problem can spread. Even if the perpetrators aren’t tied to terrorists groups in the Middle East, we can see how the ideas are spreading. In this case I am not blaming the activities on the religion itself. Even if I wanted to, this would definitely be the case of “too soon.”

So, as insensitive as this question may be: could this be considered Europe’s 9/11? On the surface there’s little to compare the two. Aside from the large difference in scale, the attack on Charlie Hebdo was a case of them clearly targeting a small group in retaliation. No, the reason I raise the question is that I wonder how people in that part of the world are going to respond to this. And yes, I realize that by using “Europe” I’m generalizing a large diversity of people. See what kind of logical minefield I can get myself into writing about this topic?

Speaking in more general terms, I condemn any kind of violent activity, especially when based on bad ideology. On top of that, I take issue with the fact that people across the world that supposedly have freedom of speech now have to fear not only the possibility of censorship for authority but also violent reaction from the wrong kind of people. With this global village of communication, are we entering the age where walking in the wrong neighborhood and giving the wrong person the wrong look is equivalent to publishing a cartoon that can reach the wrong people halfway around the world?

I sure hope not. I know that my blog isn’t halfway to what I would consider being widely read. But if all it takes is one wrong person to stumble upon it, then I can get worried. I know I haven’t really been hitting controversial topics with this blog in the past few months but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I should be afraid to do so, if it turns out that I do have something to say.


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