Does it need to be said?

That we condemn murder, condemn the attempt to quell the voices of criticism, condemn the twisted notion that a cartoon deserves to met with gunfire by those it offends?

Two days ago we were laughing at Kirby Delauter, an elected official from Maryland who threatened to sue a reporter and her newspaper over the "unauthorized use" of his name.

Delauter's knee-jerk reaction to the fourth estate looks a hell of a lot less funny today. (For the record, Delauter's apologized. That happens when you're lambasted on social media for a full 24 hours.)

In the middle of Paris yesterday, masked gunmen took the concept of media control to ends that stretched far beyond simple stupidity and empty threats and into terroristic retribution, attempting to censor a satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, by gunning down ten journalists and two policemen protecting those writers and cartoonists.

So, apparently, yes, it needs to be said. Any threat to free expression must — and will — be met with an even louder shout, a dirtier joke, a more critical column and a bawdier cartoon when governments, institutions and religious groups deserve to be the focus of our ire.

Our hearts go out to the families and colleagues of those murdered in what appear to be revenge killings for Charlie Hebdo's portrayal of an historical figure, their skewering of the prophet Mohammed. No matter that some hold that figure sacred, above any reproach. That's really the point, right? 

There's some good news here, despite the carnage. The people of France are unified in their condemnation of the killings, appalled at the message, the suggestion that a verbal or visual poke at anything, no matter how "holy," should be countered with automatic rifle fire or a Molotov cocktail. The rest of us fortunate enough to live in societies that honor the right to free expression are again engaging in a conversation about what rights such as the USA's First Amendment actually mean. Anyone who claims that Charlie was wrong to print what they printed — that the staff somehow "asked for it" — is either profoundly confused or willfully ignorant.

I'm certain those NUVO contributors who are much more eloquent — and smarter — than I will weigh in on this attack. I'm waiting to read what brains like Dan Carpenter 's or John Krull's make of all this. I hope this is a subject they decide to tackle. 

But in the meantime, well, yeah, it needs to be said — we're all Charlie.

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