The gruesome attack on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France today reminds us that freedom of expression in cartooning is not a given in many parts of the world. Charlie Hebdo was also attacked in 2011, and continued to publish. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists condemns this revolting act of violence, and stands with the international cartooning community in mourning the loss of twelve people, including several police officers who were executed.
President Hollande has called this an act of terrorism, and whether it was the work of those merely inspired by ISIS or those given direct orders doesn’t matter. Cartoonists and journalists around the world should be permitted to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. These types of attacks only serve to illustrate how important the free spirit of cartoon commentary is, and how cartoonists make a difference in helping to expose hypocrisy.
Furthermore, newspapers should not avoid publishing material from the magazine that allegedly incited the incident. More freedom of expression and not less demonstrates courage in the face of attacks. Shrinking from a newspaper’s watchdog role only encourages more terror.
The AAEC board and membership expresses its sincere condolences to the innocent victims at this tragic moment, and calls for international solidarity with the cause of cartooning and freedom of artistic expression.