Alfred E Newman

Remember this guy? It’s Alfred E. Newman from the satirical magazine, “Mad,” which mocks the famous and powerful to mine humorous content. I used to read it a lot when I was a kid.

Imagine if Alfred’s creators were murdered by terrorists who were offended by the magazine.┬áThat’s kind of what happened today in Paris. The headquarters of a satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was attacked by terrorists. Twelve people were murdered, including the magazine’s cartoonists and the editor.

My sincere and heartfelt condolences to the victims, their friends and families.

I wonder if I should be writing about this. Does doing so put me in danger? The people at The Onion are wondering the same thing, apparently.

I’m not comparing myself to The Onion. In this instance, obscurity is an advantage.

But if little ole obscure me is wondering if it’s safe, how many others may be out there, self-censoring on blogs, or even comments posted online about news stories? Are you, right now, thinking to yourself that there’s no way you would post a comment on this blogpost because it might make you a target?

By the way, I think self-awareness and self-editing, as opposed to self-censoring, is a good thing. Anyone who’s ever read the comments following an online news story knows what I mean. It’s just that people ought to self-edit in the interest of good taste, quality writing, and fostering a friendly dialogue on popular topics; not out of fear that they’ll be taken out by terrorists.

If there is any doubt that you’re safe so long as you don’t offend the terrorists, that doubt is removed when you see the videotape of the terrorists executing a defenseless French police officer on the sidewalk across the street from the main attack on Charlie Hebdo. Safe to say it was a vicious, gratuitous murder; lacking even the phony fig leaf of extremist Islamic grievance. I mention this to emphasize that modifying your behavior doesn’t mean safety. On the contrary, I think doing so invites further attacks aimed at limiting freedom of speech.

It’s too early to tell whether Charlie Hebdo will publish another issue, but in the meantime I’m going to subscribe to Mad. Oh, and I’m going to be very careful how I tag this post.