Editorial: Don’t Shoot the Messenger


Sal Polcino, Newsroom Manager

Social media has become a microcosm of societal concerns. Although fickle in its trends, one can quickly discern what’s supposedly wrong with the world in a glance. This week it’s Sarah Palin’s idiotic meanderings at the Republican Freedom Summit in Iowa. Last week it was Tom Brady’s deflated balls. Just a few weeks ago, the shooting at the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, took the world by storm.

With mass killings in Africa and shootings of unarmed black men by police here in the U.S. and reprisals of murdered police officers, many questioned the lasting coverage and importance of the terrorist attack on a group of cartoonists and editors. The question is easily answered.

The primary sources of Internet information are journalists and this was a blatant attack on some of their own.

Last year was a terrible one for journalists worldwide, with nearly 100 killed for doing their job — bringing the truth to their readers. In Syria alone, 17 reporters were slain last year. In the western world, we see freedom of speech as a right, but it is also the bread and butter of all serious journalists. Fundamentalists, terrorists and totalitarian regimes seek to stifle the voice of the people.This has always been true, but as these factions grow, we see it more and more.

In the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, home-grown Muslim extremists sought to punish those who supposedly insulted their God with cartoon images. If anything, the plan backfired terribly when social media and news sites picked up the story. Millions of people who may never have heard of Charlie Hebdo now saw the offending images.

Thousands of Facebook users changed their profile images to the words “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity. These terrorists who insolently believed they were the hand of God on earth, took the lives of innocents and lost their own in a pointless act of violence.

Racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia and hate crimes are rampant in the 21st century. The only way to fight it is through knowledge. Religious leaders need to step up and preach peace and understanding to their congregations. Too many of their followers misinterpret the teachings of the Bible, the Talmud and the Quran.

Fundamentalists often cherry-pick the passages that, in their minds, justify violence. Politicians espouse hate and misinterpret the constitution as well. What they all have in common is self-indulgence. Look deep enough and you will find personal reasons for all crimes against humanity — whether it’s to further one’s career, become famous or to reap rewards after death in some form of paradise.

Society needs to stop thinking of self-promotion or eternal reward in the after-life and focus on the here and now. We’re all in this world together and it is high time we acted like it. In the meanwhile — stop shooting the messenger.