The Listening Post

Charlie Hebdo and the media

Nothing justifies the murder of journalists or cartoonists over their work – but this story is in need of context.

The fatal attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo quickly turned into a debate about freedom of speech.

I am not Charlie. I am against their position and I have attacked their position ... But they have the right to have it and no one has the right to kill them.

by Alain Gresh, the editor of Le Monde Diplomatique

The edgy and provocative magazine exists in a country like France only because writers and journalists there are legally protected in their right to do their work with sharpened, and sometimes, poisoned pens.

The horrific killings of 10 staff members at the magazine seems rather clear-cut a denial of that right.

But the provocative publication has a history of publishing cartoons that many have deemed offensive, and what was missing from the initial media coverage was context and an attempt to understand why this had happened.

France has a tradition of satire that shocks and savages – to an extent that would not be tolerated in other, so-called liberal democracies.

There is nothing that justifies the murder of any journalist or cartoonist over their work – but this is a story in need of explanation.

Helping us to do that are: Padraig Reidy, from the campaign group 89up; Anna Reading, a professor at Kings College London; writer and academic Richard Seymour; and Alain Gresh, the editor of Le Monde Diplomatique.


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