Discussing Free Speech in the Wake of Charlie Hebdo

The French Institute Alliance Française (FAIF) will host a panel discussion on February 19th to address the future of free speech in the wake of the massacre at the offices of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, called, “After Charlie: What’s Next for Art, Satire and Censorship?

According to the BBC, on January 7th 2015, two gunmen parked a black Citroen on a quiet Paris street, walked into the offices of a magazine and tore that quiet to pieces as they gunned down 12 innocent people. They were Islamist militants who carried out the vicious attack in response to a cartoon featuring the Muslim prophet, Muhammad.

As tragic as the deaths of these innocent people are, it is important to remember another victim of this attack: free speech. In response, PEN American Center, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and FAIF have organized a panel of prominent cartoonists and writers to discuss the impacts of these attacks and the direction censorship and satire will go from here. Taking place on Feb. 19th, the discussion will be held in FAIF’s Florence Gould Hall, located at 55 East 59th St. in Manhattan.

Panelists will include Art Spiegalman, who is a Pulitzer Prize winning artist and illustrator, best known for his critically acclaimed graphic novel, Maus. Molly Crabapple is a well- known cartoonist and journalist who writes a column for VICE. Francoise Mouly is editor and art director for the New Yorker and Emmanuel “Manu” Letouzé is a “socio-political” cartoonist and economist for the United Nations.

Tickets cost $18.50, and it seems well worth it to be in the room for a discussion featuring such a diverse group of speakers on a topic that impacts anyone who loves art, regardless of the medium. As a writer, a person who loves offensive jokes and a subscriber to the notion that either everything is fair game for the jokesters of the world, or none of it is, I am excited to attend this. I have actually heard of Molly Crabapple and enjoy her work. She did not respond to my emails when I asked her for an interview a few months ago, but I won’t hold that against her. I am but a lowly grad student, after all.

I will be live tweeting this event, so if this is something you are interested in, pop in to the Twittersphere on February 19th between 6:30 and 8:00 PM. I will be floating around in there, hopefully with some compelling talk of censorship, satire and free speech.

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