Riss reflects on the year since the Charlie Hebdo murders

The editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, Laurent Sourisseau, who goes by the name Riss, pulls no punches about the hatred confronting radical secularism, using the background of Charlie Hebdo. [Emphasis mine.]

Riss editorial : Column #1224

The truth is that many people, at that time already, were hoping that someone would put us back in our place. Yes, lots of people were hoping for us to get killed. KILLED. Among them, fanatics made stupid by the Quran, but also bigots from other religions wishing for us to go to the hell they believe in because we dared ridicule religion. Not to mention the backwater of embittered intellectuals, insipid columnists and jealous journalists who take the utmost care in making sure not to tread on dangerous ground by writing anything sincere. That ship of fools and cowards were wishing we were dead. The religious because we were blasphemous, the others because Charlie Hebdo had always been an anomaly in the French media. The founders of Charlie, Cavanna, Choron, Gébé, Cabu, Wolinski, Willem, were outsiders with a God-given talent. And yet they did not believe in God. You can only create what they created, write what they wrote, draw what they drew when you don’t give a fuck. About God first and then about everything else. Fuck with appealing to the majority, with seducing the dull masses or charm boring graduates. Fuck everything. Or at least as much as possible. That is the way we had to conceive Charlie for many years. Only for the pleasure of meeting up every Wednesday morning to chat and take the piss, our only defence against those who wanted us dead.

Charlie was always on the verge of going under. In fact it was closed down for ten years, and revived in 1992. This gives Riss a cautionary view:

I never considered the privilege of expressing my views in a magazine, in our democracy, like it was a given. Nothing is given. To run a paper has always been extremely difficult, from King Louis Philippe, who used to jail journalists and cartoonists, to general De Gaulle, whose censors were banning those who were bold enough to laugh.

Journalists are not the owners of freedom of speech, only its servants. At Charlie Hebdo, freedom of speech never meant hitting back at those who wanted us to die. Our only response to them was creativity. The more inventive and funny would the paper be, the livelier we would be, sending back to nothingness all the people who wanted us dead.

And then the most bitter lesson to learn:

We are often asked: “How can you go on with the magazine after all this?” How? Everything we have been through in the last 23 years is what keeps us going with all our rage. Never have we been so intent on beating up the bastards who dreamed to see us go. Two hooded assholes were never going to destroy the work of a lifetime and the great moments spent with those who died. They will not see Charlie off. It is Charlie who saw them die. The year 2015 was the most horrible in the history of Charlie Hebdo because it imposed the worst torture on an opinionated publication — it tested the values we stand for. Would they be strong enough for us to fight back? The answer is in these pages. The values of atheists and secularists can move more mountains than the faith of believers.

And fuck everything, too.

Written by

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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