Amblin' Alameda: Je suis Charlie

Amblin' Alameda: Je suis Charlie

Morton Chalfy

Sunday mornings, early, I join my friend and his dog for a stroll. It's a long stroll, perhaps four miles in all, and it gives us plenty of time to talk over the events of the week in our lives and to enjoy some parts of Alameda living that usually are hidden away.

We walk along the muddy path through the bird sanctuary along the bay front. This Sunday the tide was at an ebb and the birds were happily poking their beaks into the mudflats in the center of the bay revealed by the receding water. One imagines the mud is full of invertebrates from the low hum of happy twitters that floats across the water.

Some new species were passing through the area on their way to other places, delighting us with their novelty. It is a pleasant walk, and we never fail to comment on how peaceful Alameda is and how much its charm is improved by the presence of the birds. We are both writers, so we always spend a little time talking about current projects, future projects and any upcoming events like readings we may attend or participate in.

On Sunday afternoon I turned to the TV to see what was happening in Paris. C-SPAN had continuing coverage of the gathering crowd in the Place de la Republique and of the march headed by the chief executives of Europe and elsewhere stepping out with linked arms to express solidarity with France and with all lovers of free expression.

Freedom of expression is the first and most basic of freedoms. With it, one is a person; without it, one is a slave. Before there was the Constitution, before the Declaration of Independence, there was Tom Paine and Common Sense, the pamphlet that started our Revolutionary War. We share Tom Paine with the French as after fomenting our divorce from Great Britain, he traveled to Paris where he helped foment the French Revolution. (In the spirit of "No good deed goes unpunished," he was booted out of both countries.)

I become tongue-tied with passion when I try to talk about this freedom and its meaning, which lies at the emotional core of my feelings about living with other humans. When I can speak my mind, I feel like myself; censored, I am a bundle of frustration and anger. The attack on Charlie Hebdo was truly an attack on humanity, and the sight of the million people in Paris massing together to proclaim their defiance of the terrorists and their fervent support of free speech brought tears to my eyes and pride to my heart. It is supremely important that here, where we feel secure in our freedoms, we appreciate just what it is we won with the revolution and how we have to protect it.

I'm happy to add my voice to the multitudes and say with them, "Je suis Charlie!"


Submitted by frank on Tue, Jan 13, 2015

Where was Free Speech then?

With Free Speech comes a great responsibility. Can people just say anything they wish? Sometimes even in this Blog there are 'Comments' that are deleted. Is that an 'attack' on Free Speech? Many times people use the 'banner' of free speech for profit.