Editorial: The pen and the sword
February 3, 2015
In the newspaper business we make our living from words. We read and write thousands of them. Some bring happiness, some bring heartache, some bring new ideas and some bring hate and fear.
We never think our words are going to bring death.
While the world mourns the 12 members of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, who died in a terrorist attack for what they wrote and drew, we, in the middle of a different country, carry on with our words. We write about cattle and cold, oil and trains.
Half a world away journalists are beheaded for doing their jobs—for bringing to print a set of morals and ideals that can justify kidnapping, rape, murder, genocide and repression. We write about horses and hay, dollars and drought.
We aren't like those journalists. We don't share a culture. We don't share goals. We don't even share a language.
But we share a commitment to telling the stories that matter to us. We share a belief in the right to put ideas out in the public to be hashed over, ripped up, screamed at, rejected and–occasionally–embraced. That's what happens to our words.
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Week after week, we put those words on the page, and those pages arrive in mailboxes, and they bring something into those lives that wasn't there before. Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad.
But that's the power of the written word. And threats and violence will only increase the power of the words from those who believe the pen truly is mightier than the sword.