The shootings in Paris have reaffirmed the importance of free speech. No one should have to pay such a high price for simple mockery. Though it has left me wondering, would people my age have printed the cartoons of Mohammed in the first place?
I'm twenty years old, and am called part of 'Generation Y' or the 'Millennials'. However I think the most defining feature of my generation is of course having grown up with the Internet. A world in which all arguments are solved with a quick google, where information is only an instant away. The Economist has found that people my age are getting ever more 'liberal'. We are more tolerant of others and prioritise gay rights and sex equality over welfare and health. I'm fortunate to have grown up in a pretty secure time. Perhaps not economically secure, but no real threat has loomed over.
This tolerance and drive for a more equal society is a good thing. However it seems to me that we may have become too politically correct. I grew up playing GTA, listening to Eminem and watching comedians like Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle, a pair that are becoming ever more distant from the wholesome days of Morecambe and Wise. And yet our politics, and wider society, is becoming more sensitive.
Three of the twelve murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo were born before 1945. Many of Hebdo's staff have grown up in the shadow of World War Two, having relatives who directly fought in it. All grew up during the Cold War. Apart from in history lessons, not much consideration is given to the Cold War by people my age today. No one I know can relate to how it must have been to grow up during a time where the fear of destruction constantly lurked in the background.
Alice Thompson in the Times puts this older generation as wanting 'to reassert the rights of the individual in a world divided between capitalism and communism'. A generation that rebelled against the East/West lumping by challenging authority on both sides, standing out from their Cold War labels. It's telling that in the same article Thompson notes that a pupil who went to a Je suis Charlie rally didn't actually want to see the cartoons as she finds them offensive. It seems that a time is approaching where people will be too worried about causing offence to challenge.
We should to continue to be careful of pointlessly offending and hurting others. We don't want to regress to the chauvinistic heyday of Mad Men and sixties Bond films. However satirical magazines should not be afraid to offend. Especially when it comes to organised religion, they should continue to challenge while being careful to not bully the faithful.
Satire - like Charlie Hebdo's - has, and always should, mock and challenge the powerful. In doing so, it hands some of that power to those without it.