Opinion: Stand up to intolerance

That the newspaper Charlie Hebdo can spark outrage is nothing new. But murder is a coward's response.

The execution of 10 journalists and two police officers by Islamist extremists in Paris this week has justifiably drawn international condemnation.

It’s seen as not only an attack against a single news outlet, but an affront to a fundamental tenet of our democratic values: Freedom of expression.

That the newspaper Charlie Hebdo can spark outrage is nothing new. It’s satirical attack on institutions on all sides of the political and religious spectrum has spared few.

But anger is one thing. Murder is something else.

According to media reports the journalists were singled out, identified by name and systematically shot.

They are not the first journalists to die, of course. Last year 61 journalists were killed doing their job. In 2013 the number was 70.

True, reporting from locations like a war zone can be a dangerous business. But of those killed last year, 27 were deliberately murdered.

The motives vary. However, the underlying theme is the suppression of information and a desire to control the message.

We can’t let that happen.

We can’t let any individual or organization dictate through force the information we receive, whether it’s an in depth investigation, or a satirical cartoon.

To be clear, freedom of expression is not absolute. There are limitations, (like the promotion of violence and the dissemination of hate).

But that still leaves a lot of latitude.

We live in a time when access to information has never been easier. We can find it online, have it delivered to our doorstep, or channeled to our living room.

But behind that information are thousands of women and men striving to provide the details you need to form your own judgements about a complicated world.

We can’t let the ignorance and intolerance of armed thugs – and those who support them – stand in our way.

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