Cervantes: Paris and the Pope


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A simple fact of life is that people can hold a lot of anger in them. Anger is fuel that can turn a spark of unhappiness into a cataclysmic inferno that will consume the lives of every individual unfortunate enough to get in the way. In most cases of growing, continual rage, the remedy is to let it go and to be at peace with the wrong done to you. My own personal philosophy is to forgive those who hurt me, not to placate them, but rather so I can move on and not allow the burning negativity that is anger control me.

So when I, a practicing Catholic, heard that Pope Francis wishes for the world to not only forgive the Muslim militants responsible for the Paris attacks but also to apologize for the “insulting” remarks aimed at their religion, I feel conflicted.

For those that don’t know, the “Paris attacks” refers to the shooting at the headquarters of a satirical magazineCharlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. The assault was in response to some of the magazine’s featured content aimed at satirizing Islam. Because of this tragedy’s religious nature, the pope decided to enlighten the world on what needed to be done.

According to him, “You can’t provoke, you can’t insult the faith of others, you can’t make fun of faith.”

When asked on the natures of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, he responded by stating, “Everyone has not only the freedom and the right but the obligation to say what he thinks for the common good … we have the right to have this freedom openly without offending.” He then went on to summarize his message by saying that the magazine needs to forgive the assailants and apologize for the insult on Islam.

I do not agree with most of what Pope Francis said. Yes, we should forgive the perpetrators, at least personally and spiritually, but that is about it.

Charlie Hebdo is, as stated before, a satirical magazine. Its very purpose is to poke fun at various subjects by using exaggeration and ridicule. Because of the use of sardonicsim and other rhetorical methods, it is apparent that the points made are not to be taken seriously. No doubt this satire has had many other religious targets, and it will certainly have more in the future. For it to issue out an apology to Islam for what Charlie Hebdo published would cause a domino effect. One by one, “sensitive” groups would cry out at mistreatment. Other satirical outlets would be frightened, and therefore follow the example of Charlie Hebdo. Because of this fear, the institution of satire would degrade until it became a cracked husk of its former self.

Some people may call this hypothesized reaction a “little thing” in a big picture. Well, this “little thing” would pile up until it became an avalanche, one that topples over our society’s principles.

That is why terrorists and other extremists act in such a violent way. They wish to strike fear into the hearts of public so that their entire way of life is forever changed. By apologizing, we are giving in to fear and insulting the work that the deceased put their lives into. I sincerely hope that the magazine sticks with its guns and stands by what it has printed. What Charlie Hebdo must do now is adhere to the golden rule of comedy.

Either it’s all funny, or none of it is.

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