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The pen will always be mightier than the sword

The pen will always be mightier than the sword

🕔08.Jan 2015

Je Suis Charlie

As France mourns twelve people brutally murdered in Paris yesterday, we pay tribute to their memories and express our sympathy with their families and the wider nation, write Kevin Johnson and Paul Dale.

On the surface, we at the Chamberlain Files have little in common with Charlie Hebdo. This little corner of the web, a niche blog site focussing on politics and government in Greater Birmingham, is a world away from an established, French, national, satirical magazine. But our values and principles come from the same place.

Freedom of expression, of speech, and of the press within the rule of law are fundamental to our societies and ways of life, even if British and French constitutional frameworks are quite different.

The Files doesn’t normally stray into religious territory, perhaps with the notable exception of some extremist attitudes to education which underpinned last year’s Trojan Horse crisis. But we do comment and analyse politicians; criticise and poke fun; share gossip and second guess.

From Lord Whitby’s parliamentary workload to the findings of the Kerslake Review; from marketing to economic strategies, the Files will be unpopular in some quarters for some of the time. However, we are confident the subjects of our posts would absolutely stand by our right to write. We trust they will raise a glass, rather than anything more threatening, to the importance of the media, including the blogosphere, in a civilised democracy.

These are concerning days for anyone who values the freedom of speech, including professional journalists, cartoonists and satirists, bloggers and anyone who uses social media. Today is a day to celebrate liberty and offer solidarity. We must ensure freedoms continue to be enjoyed, including through ‘new’ as well as traditional media, whilst exercising them responsibly.

And here in Birmingham, a strong response is required to the atrocity in Paris from civic and faith leaders. Nothing less than outright condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and support for the freedom of speech will do. It is especially important that Birmingham’s many Muslim city councillors, rightly seen as leaders of their communities, publicly stand together in the cause of freedom. We are sure they will wish to do so.

Some wondered yesterday whether the pen can remain mightier than the sword. We truly hope it does. We owe it to the journalists and police officers who were massacred yesterday.

Je Suis Charlie.

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