I try to be funny. Really, I do. But sometimes I have no clue how my ideas are being received. My writing has sometimes caused people to unfriend me on Facebook. I have gotten bizarre comments on my blog. I got yelled at for something I said when I thought I was complimenting the person. I can be an absolute idiot. I can unwittingly take awkward to whole new levels in public. Sometimes I am just trying on new ideas, see if they stand up to being said aloud. Sometimes I have formed opinions that do differ wildly from others. Sometimes, I am just going for the joke. That’s okay. Differences make life interesting. It’s a “to each his own” kind of thing. Everybody has a batshit crazy section in their brains. Some of us open the door and air it out more often than others, maybe more often than we really should. Doesn’t mean a thing, though.
But today, my heart aches as I am reminded that some people are too damaged to understand when someone is just joking. The news that a dozen people were killed in my favorite city, Paris, only because they worked for a magazine that published satire takes me to a dark place. I just do not understand what has happened.
The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo sometimes focused on uncomfortable topics, as it should have. That’s the beauty of satire. It amuses while turning a spot light on religion, the government, egos, big business, the holy cows that flourish only when unexamined and unquestioned.
The editor, “Charb” Charbonnier, who was also one of the magazine’s cartoonists, was killed along with his police bodyguard. He was once asked why he continued to hit issues that he knew would draw ire. He answered that he preferred to die on his feet than live on his knees.
Ironically, just this past November Charlie Hebdo requested financial assistance to avoid bankruptcy. Now, instead of the usual 60,000 issues it will publish one million copies of the next issue (14 Jan 2015) in defiance. It is being called the “survivor” issue.
A makeshift memorial is growing in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices. In addition to the de rigueur candles, note cards, and stuffed animals, people are leaving pens. Hundreds of pens. Pens, the most dangerous tool on the planet, strong enough to shake people’s core values, mighty enough to topple governments, are being left in memory of cartoonists and writers at a humor magazine.
My condolences to the survivors. My condolences to the city of Paris. My condolences to the friends and families left behind. Joking just got real, y’all.