‘Charlie Hebdo’ far from dead

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — We Americans are a cynical, irreverent people. Except for a few of us who have succumbed to political correctness, we tolerate – even encourage – severe verbal attacks on our political leaders. We laugh at and often are prompted to think about satire directed at them, our social customs, even our religion.

No one is off-limits as a target for investigation and criticism by the news media in this country. Our nation’s founders enshrined that philosophy in the First Amendment.

Americans often grit their teeth and criticize the press for some of what we do. But overwhelmingly, we consider the Fourth Estate to be not just essential to our form of government, but also to the way we live our lives.

We were reminded Wednesday that not everyone in the world feels that way. Islamic terrorists invaded the office of a satirical newspaper in Paris. They slaughtered 12 people and wounded several others. Most of the victims were journalists.

Islamic terrorists have murdered some journalists during the past several years. But those killings were random, with the victims being individual reporters and photographers who were captured by terrorist groups.

Wednesday’s attack was something entirely different. It was an assault on the very concept of a free, vigorous press.

Islamic terrorists had been critical of the French newspaper, called “Charlie Hebdo,” because it published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

After journalists at the paper and two police officers were gunned down, one of the attackers proclaimed “Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo!”

Clearly, one of the goals of the massacre was to intimidate journalists everywhere. Nothing radical Muslims consider offensive in any way is to be published, broadcast or posted on the Internet, the terrorists threaten. Disobey that edict and die, they vow.

People who believe in freedom of speech, religion and the press already were implacable enemies of Islamic terrorists. What they want to do to us is, in a word, unacceptable – with all that word implies.

The Paris murderers are wrong. In the most important sense, “Charlie Hebdo” is not dead. And no matter how vicious the terrorists’ campaign becomes, the idea of a vigorous, unfettered press will not die among Americans and other people who refuse to bow to brutality.

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