I am Charlie

Katy Ly, Staff Writer

I like to consider myself an artist, and I like to have opinions. So when I draw up cartoons, I like to poke fun at aspects of my world I find to be flawed. Our generation’s obsession with electronic devices, the stress of finals, the fact that Campo can never get the hand movements for the “CATS-ARE-BEST” cheer correct; the list goes on and on.

It’s true that it’s my own view on school life, and everyone has a different view. Not everyone will like that I make fun of these things, and that’s perfectly fine. But do I ever worry that I might be suspended for drawing a comic that offends someone else’s sensibilities?

… Maybe I shouldn’t answer that.

Consequences were certainly far more serious for the artists and journalists of Charlie Hebdo.

For those who don’t know, Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine. As reported by BBC News, on January 7 two gunmen entered Charlie Hebdo headquarters and opened fire. 12 people were killed, including 2 policemen and 8 journalists. Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier was also killed.

I was shocked when I first heard the news. Being shot for having a different opinion? True, Charlie Hebdo probably offended certain people with its satire. But the point of satire is to make fun of people, institutions or ideas, and to show how silly they can be.  Just because you have a difference of opinion doesn’t mean you deserve to lose your life.

On an admittedly much, much, much smaller scale, the same conflict exists on campus. Obviously, students aren’t flocking to school with firearms, but they have a (somewhat) equally dangerous weapon: peer pressure. Yes, the pressure to jump on the bandwagon and fit in with everyone else. This is the problem: if everyone wants to fit in, and be the same as everyone else, then how can one have an individual opinion?

Let’s say that you are with your group of friends, and they are all discussing how amazing this one singer/athlete/author/obscure-person-you’ve-never-heard-of is. And then you say: “I don’t really like them.” Next thing you know, everyone is pestering you to Google this person’s accomplishments, or to watch their video on Youtube. They bombard you with questions like “Why don’t you like them? They’re amazing!” Soon enough, you have to cave in a little, and look up this celebrity and say, “Oh, that’s cool,” even though you don’t really think so.

In reality, we have divided opinions about certain teachers, certain friends, certain coaches, and so on. Sometimes though, I feel like I would rather forgo the stress and just give up any opinions at all, avoiding the controversy and the emotional/social anxiety that comes with it.

But I have to also remind myself: you should be free to believe what you want to believe. Don’t let other students persuade you into doing something else, and don’t let them bother you just because you see something differently.

That’s why Charlie Hebdo is still publishing its magazine, in the face of the horrific attack.

And that’s why I’m still making cartoons that poke fun at school, students, teachers and anything else I believe deserves a little criticism.

We should all be Charlie.