Anything that smacks of terror attack immediately takes the full attention of an obedient media. Coverage of the Paris shootings at Charlie Hebdo is like a replay of the Boston Marathon attack where the level of detail and the constant repetition of much more-than-we-neededto know fed the fears of the citizenry and redoubled our sense of Muslim as “other.” The media sounds enthusiastic about the events that give them so much air time. “How does it feel?” and “What is it like there?” they ask as we’re treated to the sound effects of helicopters and police gunfire. They make a tragic and troubling event into a bad TV movie.

It goes without saying that shooting those who offend us is never acceptable nor is it any kind of solution. Violence, as is always true, is not the answer. It’s not OK to kill those who offend us. But then is it OK to knowingly and purposefully offend? Is that not also a kind of violence? “Sticks and stones” right? It’s all sadly adolescent: The offending, the revenge, the coverage.

Has there been sincere and serious discussion of cultural differences? Is there exploration of why religious minorities become fanatically fundamentalist? Is there discussion about ways of easing tensions rather than accelerating them? Do we really understand that these young men were fanatic and unstable and not in any way representative of the Muslim faith or culture?

Cartoons are most useful and amusing when they speak to the faults of the rich and powerful. Surely there must be a place for restraint when taking on the unfortunate?

Rosalie Paul

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