The following piece is the first installation of a new column titled “Je suis Emma.” It serves as an introduction to what the column will be about and how it was inspired.
“Je suis Charlie.”
Millions of tweets, Facebook posts and protest signs have donned these words in response to the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the deaths of 12 people.
In the past, the magazine has produced offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and has openly criticized Islam. Using the phrase “Je suis Charlie” is not an agreement with Charlie Hebdo’s statements and images that blatantly disrespect the beliefs of Islam. (It is also not intended to imply that I speak French.) “Je suis Charlie” is a symbol of supporting freedom of the press and showing no fear to those who attempt to stifle that freedom.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen too often how tragic events spark protests and strong trends on social media, but after several weeks, or even days, the interest quickly fades — a point eloquently made by fellow Palo Alto High School journalist Kelly Shi in the most recent issue of Verde Magazine. Just look at how 58 percent of Americans supported stricter gun control laws just after the Newtown shootings in 2012, but by October 2014, that support had fallen to 47 percent, according to surveys conducted by Gallup Poll.
So, this new column is my long-term commitment to supporting freedom of the press by discussing controversial topics that relate to high school students and expressing my possibly unpopular opinions.
Right now, the public has been strongly urging journalists to push the envelope when it comes to controversy and show that we are not afraid to exercise our rights. However, this movement collides with the common journalistic principle that “just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should.” In my opinion, there is a problem in writing with the intent to offend (as Charlie Hebdo seems to have done), but there is still a power in writing with the intent to provoke.
What can you expect from this column? Well since the words “high school” and “controversy” are so often seen together, you can expect almost anything. I intend to reveal my unconventional thoughts on people applying to over 20 colleges, worshiping Beyoncé as a goddess and/or watching a “trash” reality show like “The Bachelor.” I want to address hook-up culture, upperclassmen entitlement and stigmas that come from labels.
I often like to use statistics but at the same time add a little sass or sarcasm. Some pieces may be more serious or light-hearted than others. One thing I can guarantee though: sugar-coating gets checked at the door.
This project will be a column and not a collection of separate opinion pieces for a reason: the phrase “Je suis Emma” will appear in each new column to serve as an ongoing reminder of last week’s overflowing support for freedom of the press, as well as a way to honor those who were killed for exercising their rights. With the title “Je suis Emma,” I hope to emphasize that both writing and reading these pieces are in themselves support of that freedom.
Je suis Charlie. Je suis Emma.