I make it a point to never be overtly political in my posts, blogs, article, and other writing. That’s because I write about technology not politics or art. Art and technology have one thing in common though. Both are creative pursuits that require a free environment in which to thrive.
What the awful people who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo did not seem to understand is that the writers and cartoonists were not satirizing Islam per se. They were not trying to insult Muslims or the Prophet Mohammed. Nope. They wanted to insult the very same extremists that killed them. The staff, the artists, writer, editors, and other members of Charlie Hebdo, wanted to expose them for what they were – a perversion of religion and civilization. Charlie Hebdo was willing to skewer anyone who had gotten too big for their britches including the establishment of their own country. Magazines such as Charlie Hebdo corrupt our willingness to accept the established order or loss of freedom. Mad Magazine serves a similar purpose in the United States only it looks to corrupt the young. Get them early when their brains are still pliable. That probably explains a lot about me.
These extremist murders are not simply upset at how they perceive their religion to be portrayed by a satirical magazine. If that’s all it was, they would have written nasty blogs or posted hashtag-laden rants on Twitter. What they want is the suppression of the free mind. It is their hope that they will place all of us in cultural bondage and Charlie Hebdo would have none of that. Or as Bob Marley said, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.” Sometimes we need a reminder of that and Charlie Hebdo did just that.
So, what does this have to do with technology? Everything. Technology only thrives in freedom. The freedom to innovate cannot be divorced from the freedom to speak one’s mind and think one’s own thoughts. You can’t create technology or art while in mental slavery.
This, I am sure, is why Google is helping to pay for the largest run the magazine has ever seen, at last count 3 million copies, instead of the usual 60,000 copies. They know this was not just an attack on a small French magazine that crossed the lines of good taste over and over. It was an attack the very essence of our culture and industry – the freedom to create without fear or oppression.
Our call to action comes, once again, from Bob Marley:
“Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?”
Je suis Charlie.
-Tom Petrocelli, January 2015