“I love you, Charlie”, a text by Justine Paolini
Some hangovers are harder to get over than others. It’s already been 48 hours and I still don’t feel any better. In fact, it’s getting worse.
On 7 January 2015, a few men decided that humour and freedom of expression were punishable by death. I saw it all live on television at the airport, just before boarding my plane. I couldn’t stop the tears running down my face.
Twelve deaths. Twelve people dead for making jokes. At Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper that sometimes makes me crack up, sometimes not.
This is a newspaper I loved reading at one time, like many other French people who went through their “Charlie” stage. We lost touch for a while, but we were always pleased to meet up again.
This newspaper sometimes made me say “This time they’ve gone too far”, while I tried to stifle my laughter.
This newspaper was a little like an uncle who embarrasses you with his jokes at family meals. It sometimes offended us, it was a little misogynistic and vulgar. But its intelligence, humour and impartiality always saved the day.
I loved Charlie because I didn’t always agree with them.
I loved Charlie because they shook us up. As a woman, Charlie could have annoyed me, hurt me. But the drawing of a cleric, of Nadine Morano, or a Parisian hipster on the next page always brought me back to reality: we are all idiots, and there is no reason as to why someone should be spared in the masquerade that is the world and what we’ve done with it.
I loved Charlie because they highlighted my paradoxes, and pushed me to question my own limits with regard to humour.
I loved Charlie because they really took the piss out of us, out of everyone.
I loved Charlie because they were the only ones who couldn’t be intimidated.
I loved Charlie because they were little brats who made light of all things serious. The more you took yourself seriously, the more Charlie was there to remind you that it was all an enormous load of bullshit.
I loved Charlie because they were both in support of and necessary to the social cohesion of our country. They constantly emphasised that we didn’t have to submit to anything or anyone, that there was no God, no master to be imposed upon others.
I loved Charlie for their courage: Charb was right, they died standing up.
Standing up for us, and our right to poke fun at everything and everyone. Our right to make bad jokes. And we will strive more than ever to laugh at ourselves, at everything and everyone, in memory of the victims and in the name of freedom.
Today we are all Muslims, all Christians, all Jews, all French. And with all our strength WE WILL RESIST the vultures who try to make us believe otherwise. It is only by resisting division that we may truly pay homage to the victims and to our country.
They showed us what it meant to “die for one’s freedom”. They were the ones who were brave enough to stand up, and who were sacrificed.
We must never, ever forget it.
These men and women were killed. But WE WERE NOT.
Let us hold high the banner of Charlie, in our small way and where we can. We must never again stay silent, and their deaths will not have been for nothing. Let us draw, write, sing, dance and express ourselves in any way so that these madmen will never win. We are not afraid, not anymore.
In fact, I didn’t love Charlie. But today I love it, more than anything, to the bitter end.
It is sad it took such a horrible event to make us see we were standing together. But the most important thing is that we are standing together. I would like to thank everyone for being there, all over France, aware of the importance of what is happening. Scream your love for what Charlie represents.
We are all Charlie, and I love us all.