Thoughts on a 21st Century Tragedy


Trigger Warning: Racism, Freedom of Press, Religious Discrimination.

Though I promised that I would never lower the tone of this blog through the posting of any irrelevant or egotistical musings, as a journalist and wannabe cartoonist, I feel it is almost a duty to  do this for those who choose to listen my thoughts on the tragedy that is the Charlie Hebdo Shootings. In doing this, I hope to do honour to the journalists who died yesterday, and also show my stance – how, though the thoughts and opinions expressed by others may be distasteful, bigoted, or outright outrageous, expressed they must be, and expressed they shall be; I occasionally deplore the intelligence of Man, yet I feel we have very little to look forward to as a species if we cannot even trust the intelligence of our fellow man enough to know what is and isn’t a disgusting opinion.

So, in writing this article, I know I am breaking my own cardinal rule of keeping Greeneland Revisited purely for book reviews and (occasional spurts of) creativity. However, Greeneland Revisited, and the opinions it expresses, only exists because of la liberté d’expression (or freedom of speech) is a fundamental right, or should be such in a Utopian world.

I am also recycling an old Grégoire sketch of mine, one which was done with a happy mind and a mischievous mood – in choosing to write antonyms on Gregoire’s Les Misérables banner, a mockery of the fervour and fanaticism that has often been the reception for the classic musical, I didn’t realise that I was reflecting the thoughts of many people in France at the moment, morbid and self-centred though it may sound. I hope you enjoy the sketch, even if the experience is somewhat bittersweet and (for those of you who’ve seen it before) boring.

14 - Miserable Greg

I by no means want to be one of those teenage hipsters who jump onto a political bandwagon, espousing values of liberalism and sentiments of horror over the recent events in Paris, but, as a French nationale who identifies as a devout Roman Catholic, and who also identifies as a minority race (as my mother is from Hong Kong), I feel this has to be said. I’m sure many others of my ilk shall express the same sentiments as me.

I don’t think anyone who’s alive and breathing and/or active on social media could possibly be unaware of the horrific events that occurred yesterday in Paris. That such an event should occur only a day after the optimistic and festive Epiphany festival strikes my morbid and somewhat overactive imagination as well. My condolences go to the friends, family, and any other people who may have been severely affected by such a catastrophe. The sheer violence and horror of the occurrence made my blood go cold when I heard it, and I immediately felt at one with all the protesters and mourners all over Europe who gathered together to remember the dead. Though nationalism can be divisive and ultimately destructive, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more French – or sadder at a public disaster – than I did at that moment, embarrassing though the sentiment may be. And I certainly condemn any actions of violence that is done in the name of anything whatsoever, be it Religion, or money, or for the ‘lolz’.

I am also sad that the expression of one’s opinions and beliefs, no matter how distasteful, should have resulted in tragedy. As an amateur cartoonist and satirist myself, I have seen fit through my Gregoire Le Souflurre comics (which, in a sad twist of fate, was a French bear meant to represent the freedom with which the French supposedly expressed themselves, as the Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité motto implied, or at least suggested), both to mock myself, my circle of friends, and the environment I live in, from the insular issues such as the pettiness of college rivalries, to the more major problems stemming from perpetuated rape culture and trans-hate. It sounds silly, but I use my Gregoires as an expression of my creativity (what little of it there is), and of my sarcasm, a tool which, though may be the lowest form of wit, is also an extremely useful way of expressing disgust or resignation over certain situations and events. It pains me that others, like myself (how egotistical of me!) should pay the price for that freedom of expression, and for the inclination to express what they believe.

However, this doesn’t make the current backlash right. I don’t care whether the shooting was barbaric or violent (though it was), and I don’t care who did it, or for what reason. The core point that should be remembered is that innocent blood has been shed, and freedom of speech has been violated through that. Blaming a particular race, or religion for the crimes of a very small minority is counter-productive, and will only serve to worsen the situation and continue the vicious cycle of mistrust and racism. I, as a Catholic, am frankly outraged that there are people who are using this as an excuse to commit hate crimes against institutions of religion, as well as against people of certain racial and religious denominations. I may be bad at arithmetic, and also a bit cliched, but, in all honesty, two wrongs do not make something right.

So please, mourn the dead, and deplore the logic that resulted in such a catastrophe. But, if we really want this world to be liberal, open-minded, and multiculturalist in nature (and I mean truly liberal), please be a little more considerate in the thoughts expressed in reaction to this event. Not, to be fair, that I’m condemning anyone on here, but I just needed to have the whinge. Thank you. I apologise if any of the sentiments that I have expressed has been in any way distasteful.

Hectorella, Creator of Grégoire.