I am Charlie Hebdo because I sometimes say outrageous things, and I have the right -- I believe very strongly that I have the right -- to say those outrageous things. I have the right to say those outrageous things even if they are stupid and offensive, even if I am wrong to say those things.
I am not Charlie Hebdo because I think I should not say those outrageous things. I think I should not offend my neighbors. And yet I believe -- I believe very strongly -- that I have the right to offend my neighbors, and that sometimes I must offend my neighbors.
I am Ahmed Merabet because I defend my right to say outrageous things, and your right to say outrageous things, and everyone's right to say outrageous things. I am Ahmed Merabet because I defend your right to say things that outrage me, and your right to go on living in freedom after you say those things. I am Ahmed Merabet because I am not brave enough to be Ahmed Merabet in truth, but I am brave enough to call out his bravery. It was simple bravery in the course of doing his job, and he died doing that job, which included protecting -- trying to protect -- people who insulted the things in which he believed.
And while I am claiming solidarity with people who were braver than I am and who are now dead, I will also claim to be a slain American journalist and a slain Mexican journalist and a living Pakstani schoolgirl shot in her face and a living Syrian cartoonist with both hands broken. I cannot be as brave as any of them, or at least I have not been called to be as brave as any of them. All I do now is to say that I see their bravery, and I hope that if I should face any of the impossible, horrible conditions they faced, I could face them as bravely as they did, even though I fear that I could not. I witness their lives and their suffering and I claim solidarity with them, knowing that to do so is equal parts pompous and humble.