An impassioned defense of the freedom of speech from Stéphane Charbonnier, a journalist murdered for his convictions
On January 7, 2015, two gunmen stormed the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. They took the lives of 12 men and women, but they called for one man by name: "Charb".
Known by his pen name, Stéphane Charbonnier was editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo, an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, and a renowned political cartoonist in his own right. In the past he had received death threats and had even earned a place on Al Qaeda's most-wanted list. On January 7 it seemed that Charb's enemies had finally succeeded in silencing him. But in a twist of fate befitting Charb's defiant nature, it was soon revealed that he had finished a book just two days before his murder on the very issues at the heart of the attacks: blasphemy, Islamophobia, and the necessary courage of satirists.
Here, published for the first time in English, is Charb's final work. A searing criticism of hypocrisy and racism and a rousing, eloquent defense of free speech, Open Letter shows Charb's words to be as powerful and provocative as his art. This is an essential book about race, religion, the voice of ethnic minorities and majorities in a pluralistic society, and, above all, the right to free expression and the surprising challenges being leveled at it in our fraught and dangerous time.
I enjoyed listening to an argument that involved looking at terms we use so freely to really speak of racism. For some reason, it never occurred to me that the "phobias" we attach to certain terms are done so to incite hatred and boost the advancements of ideals only common to those seeking monetary or popular favor with others.