This is not the blogpost I wanted to write. Not in the least.
I was hoping to start the year by writing something optimistic, something with a nod to the fact that 2014 was a never-ending Vine of a guy getting hoofed in the nuts by a goat. And of course, I wanted to start the New Year with a blog post somewhere in the first week of 2015 to really get the motivation going for great work to come. That didn’t happen. But I thought, “Hey, let’s not judge yourself harshly. Things happen. You can still wish people the best of the New Year. Everything’s fine. This shouldn’t go into your ‘Shame Backpack’ you lug around with you all the time.”
So that pretty much puts a damper on the whole thing. I was looking at opening the year with words of optimism, of a forward view to great work, to brighter days.
Then Charlie Hebdo happened. One week in and already the world has something that it has to rally around, organize vigils and just wait for Bill Maher to say something controversial about. It sucks. I don’t pretend to have known anything about Charlie Hebdo. I didn’t know they exist. I surely didn’t know anyone on the editorial board. I know of one person who is originally from France that read the magazine. I don’t know them. But I know what they do and I know what they stand for. And that’s where the sadness lies.
People way more intelligent and closer to this than I have much stronger feelings about this cowardly attack on a magazine. I don’t say that this is an attack on freedom of speech. We as a world have not lost our freedom to speak freely. If anything, the past 36 hours have proven to me through articles, editorial cartoons and opening late night monologues, the freedom to speak freely is being exercised more.
We have not lost our freedom of speech. Our ability to speak freely has not been snuffed out. But the ability for the 12 souls at Charlie Hebdo have had their freedoms revoked. That is where the shame lies.
I grew up in a religious household. I’m not about to slight anyone for their beliefs. I know that attacking any Muslim you see is tantamount to slapping every white guy because of the KKK. Please do not slap white guys because of the KKK. There are so many other valid reasons to slap every white guy you see.
So, in a very very small sense, my freedom of speech was hampered. I wished to wish everyone a productive and vibrant 2015. I wished to rally myself to great work and doing the things that I wish to get done. More stand-up. More podcasts. More…more. And I can do that, but it still seems paled by the actions of cowards who do not realize the consequences of the freedoms we hold dear. I hope they are found. I hope justice is served. And I hope that periodicals like Charlie Hebdo, The Onion, The Beaverton, and yes The Badger continue to freely satirize and, in the words of Ron James, “continue to tip over the apple cart.”
These are words I just needed to get off my chest. I find it saddening that so soon into a new year, I’m looking for emotional closure on something. But here we are.
Everyone, use this. Acknowledge how you feel about it and in a constructive way, use it. Continue to write. Continue to provoke. Continue to enjoy things.
2015 is the year that I, like you, turn on the gas!
(The Author now sits on a couch, eating his third box of Bugles in front of “Chopped” marathon)