Back in 1996 we began writing and publishing the BBCB “Law Update” and this is our 115th issue.  We started on a shoestring (and remain on one!) but always seek to produce thoughtful, original and sometimes mildly provocative reading.  That is what journalism is about – education, stimulation of thought, and occasionally pushing boundaries.

We have never sought to be controversial – that is not the purpose of our little newsletter.  But journalism at its core must be controversial at times in order to awaken the reader – whether it is to raise social awareness, tackle political issues, redress unfairness, or call attention to the need for change.  The “fourth estate” is perhaps our only real safe haven from tyranny, oppression and injustice.

On January 7, 2015 the offices of the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” were brutally attacked and twelve persons died – ten of them journalists – simple cartoonists who poked fun at the “establishment”.  They were even handed in their satire – picking on politicians, movie stars, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, even athiests.

Many Americans do not realize, or do not remember, that our “democracy”, our “republic”, is in large part inextricably tied to France, an outgrowth of the ideas spawned in the 1770’s prior to the French Revolution.

Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin had strong ties to France – Franklin was the Ambassador to France beginning in 1776.  Many of Jefferson’s seminal ideas on government had their origins on French soil.

The Charlie Hebdo attack was an attack on the core freedom of speech – protected in our own First Amendment to the Constitution.  It was an attack on France and its open culture of free expression.  It was therefore an attack on us as well.

We should not dismiss this tragic event as a “foreign” matter on European soil.  It happened right here.  We are all Charlie Hebdo.

— Kevin Palmer


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