Je suis Charlie

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

are a lot of ways to kill the press. Shoot the jour­nal­ists, as some fa­nat­ics did last week. Have ‘friends’ put the news­pa­per in bank­ruptcy be­cause it was not ‘pos­i­tive’ enough about a judge. Have some ‘spon­sors’ gen­er­ously foot the bill for a ‘pos­i­tive’ news­pa­per with no re­gard for profit.

The first is the tragic events last week in Paris, when mad men, claim­ing to re­venge who they claimed as their Prophet, wiped out most of the fig­ure­heads of the satir­i­cal pub­li­ca­tion, Char­lieHebdo. The un­known news­pa­per’s sin, the pub­lisher must be one of the few peo­ple in the re­gion to have bought a cou­ple of copies over the years, was to have re­pub­lished the so called ‘Mo­hamed Cartoons’. For un­clear rea­sons, it’s nowhere in the Mus­lim Holy Book’s surats to for­bid the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Mo­hamed, but this lit­tle de­tail doesn’t stop Kalash­nikovs from be­ing fired. But, then again, try­ing to find in the New Tes­ta­ment any ref­er­ences to the in­ter­dic­tion for women to as­sume priest­hood is the same chal­lenge.

Charlie-Hebdo is not an easy read. It is blas­phe­mous; Catholics, the majority in France after all, bear­ing most of the grunt of the pa­per’s at­tacks. It is an off­shoot of another French in­sti­tu­tion, Hara-Kiri. The Charlie refers to Gen­eral Charles De Gaulle and the French gov­ern­ment decision to ban Hara-Kiri after it had pub­lished a less than flat­ter­ing de­scrip­tion of De Gaulle’s death and fu­neral in the 70’s. So there was some irony in a French Pres­i­dent lead­ing a march de­nounc­ing a mas­sacre at a news­pa­per that its pre­de­ces­sors, for all in­tents and pur­poses, cre­ated by clos­ing down another.

The sec­ond one is closer to home and is about this town’s first mayor, Si­las Hor­ton Dick­er­son. While the founder of this news­pa­per is hon­oured by the nam­ing of one of the town’s short­est if not short­est street and also a dead end, do not even try to find any ref­er­ences to the founder of the Bri­tish Colonist and Saint Fran­cis Gazette. Its main street hon­ours an Ital­ian born gen­tle­man who vis­ited the town in 1878, Sir Fred­er­ick Tem­ple Hamil­tonTem­ple-Black­wood, 1st Earl of Duf­ferin, then Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral of Canada. It’s hard to say any­thing neg­a­tive about this ex­cel­lent man. Still, most towns have a way of hon­or­ing their first mayor. And while Lord Duf­ferin’s visit mer­its its share of glory, so does the one by Louis-Joseph Pap­ineau a cou­ple of decades be­fore. But then Pap­ineau was the guest of Dick­er­son…

The third one is the nice ef­fort by some, a cou­ple of years ago, of pro­vid­ing money to a news­pa­per whose sole pur­pose in life was to sink the by giv­ing away its ad­ver­tis­ing. That the first is­sue’s sec­ond page was a paean to coun­cil says all. The Brits, al­ways good at this, have seen the light and en­acted the Lo­cal Au­dit and Ac­count­abil­ity Act of 2014 which for­bids the pub­li­ca­tion of any pro­pa­ganda piece, they call them ‘Town Hall Pravda’, by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. We can al­ways dream of such a law in Que­bec.

And while Charlie-Hebdo was only of­fend­ing at most one hun­dred thou­sand read­ers a week out of its thirty some thou­sand cir­cu­la­tion, this week’s press run of three mil­lion will as­sure that maybe ten to twenty mil­lion will be of­fended. There is a rule about at­tack­ing the press: most of the time it back­fires.

Thewin­ners of the Feerie de Noel contest were an­nounced at Stanstead’s coun­cil meet­ing on Mon­day night. The cre­ative res­i­dents also re­ceived their prize money from Stanstead’ Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee for their ef­forts. This year’s win­ners are: Stephane Richer and Natalie Dus­sault (13 Maple, Sec­tor Stanstead); San­dra Lussier (27 Pas­sen­ger, Sec­tor Rock Is­land); and Wendy Mosher and Ron­nie Buzzell (17 Pine, Sec­tor Beebe). to r.) judge mayor

judge

“New Democrats are ap­palled that im­pris­oned Saudi Ara­bian free speech ac­tivist Raif Badawi will be flogged in pub­lic to­day as part of his sen­tence.

Raif Badawi has been im­pris­oned since June 2012 for found­ing a web­site to pro­mote po­lit­i­cal and so­cial de­bate in Saudi Ara­bia. He was charged with “set­ting up a web­site that un­der­mines pub­lic se­cu­rity” and ridi­cul­ing Is­lamic re­li­gious fig­ures.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional re­ported nu­mer­ous ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in his trial. Mr. Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a sig­nif­i­cant fine.

Last May I wrote to For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter John Baird, ask­ing him to in­ter­vene with his coun­ter­parts in Saudi Ara­bia to se­cure Mr. Badawi’s re­lease. While I have yet to re­ceive a re­ply from Mr. Baird’s of­fice, I re­it­er­ate that call to in­ter­vene to­day and urge him to call for Mr. Badawi’s im­me­di­ate re­lease be­fore this aw­ful sen­tence is car­ried out.

Mr. Badawi’s wife and chil­dren cur­rently re­side in Canada.“Ev­ery ef­fort should be made to free him so he can re­join them, rather than suf­fer this hor­rific pun­ish­ment for ex­er­cis­ing free­dom of speech.”

The proud and cre­ative win­ners of Stanstead’s Feerie de

Noel contest seen here are: (front l. to r.) Wendy Mosher and San­dra Lussier; (sec­ond

row) Ron­nie Buzzell and Stephane Richer; (third row l. San­dra Har­ri­son, Philippe Du­til, and Huguette Gre­nier.

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