Empowering expression in the wake of tragedy

Thousands of people gather during a demonstration march in Lille, France, on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, in support of the victims of this week’s twin attacks in Paris. Hundreds of extra troops are being deployed around Paris after three days of terror in the French capital killed 17 people and left the nation in shock. (Patrick Delecriox • Maxppp/Zuma Press/TNS)

This is the part where the unity elicited by tragedy begins to fade, and the chorused calls of “Je Suis Charlie” begin to turn to faint echoes, becoming parts of stories that begin, “Remember when.”

It’s been over a week since two gunmen rushed into the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a controversial Parisian magazine, killing 12 people and uniting the majority of the world in support of unabridged freedom of expression. And as has become par for the course in a time of 24-hour news and short attention spans, the motifs of liberty in expression that were so vibrant have begun the process of fading into inactionable memory.   

But, as with any tragedy, that resolve we felt in the wake of terror must be upheld. We must work to protect and further that freedom around the world and here at Fresno State long after the marches and funeral processions end if we are to see any good come out of this horror.

Indeed, many of the world leaders who marched in Paris following the attack as part of a unity march must reflect on their own abuses of that freedom. For example, while an Egyptian ambassador participated in the march, three Al-Jazeera journalists still remain behind bars for their reporting on the country’s political upheaval in 2013.

A Russian ambassador also participated, yet hails from a land where the media have increasingly become state-controlled and used it to attack its political opposition. In 2014, they also banned pro-gay equality protesting by-in-large, calling it “homosexual propaganda.”

Turkey, Israel, The United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and the list goes on, all participated in the march which signified a resolute stance in support of one of the most basic of freedoms, yet continue to crack down on expression at home.

We tend to think, especially in the U.S., of freedom of speech as a given. However, we must realize that it is only upheld by the blood, sweat and passion of each subsequent generation and must recommit ourselves to ensuring its welfare both internationally and at home.

The staff of The Collegian, as students of expression in the form of journalism, understands this. And as a new semester begins, we again commit ourselves to making our newspaper a vehicle through which we might inform you and, in turn, your voice might be empowered through us.

The best weapon that people have against terror is their resolve and the continuous exercise of unalienable liberties in the face of violence. And though there may be little any of us can do to increase and preserve those liberties abroad today, we can all endeavor to promote expression here on campus and, through expressing ourselves, stand in spirit with all efforts throughout the world.

Every person who is a member of the Fresno State community has a voice in it, and we are but one medium at your disposal for voicing it. This very section is designed to empower it.

If you have something to add to the conversation about something you’ve seen around campus, in our paper or anywhere in the world, let the campus community know by publishing it right here in The Collegian.

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