logé, nourri, blanchi & Max is coming to Portland!
Le dechet, la poubelle and how France has taught me to go green!

Se battre, Freedom of Speech and Je suis Charlie

Je suis Charlie

Photo taken in Aix-en-Provence yesterday, by my son Max. Thank you for your help, the other day. Your notes led to three good housing possibilities!

se battre

    : to fight

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following quote
Download MP3 or wav

Je ne suis pas d'accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai jusqu'à la mort pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire. (translation and attribution at the end of this post)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Un Peu Perdue

Forgive me if the following essay is chaotic, but my mind is all over the place--which may explain why I got lost last night, on the way to pick up my 17-year-old from school... along a road I've traveled dozens of times before.

The unexpected foray into la nuit left me as anxious as I am now, typing these words to you. My thoughts chatter on just as they did while circling the unfamilar neighborhood: what if I'm losing my mind? What if I can't form thoughtful sentences? What if I annoy, offend, or bore somebody with my words, words that may be ignorant, hasty, indulgent, or simply come across the wrong way, perpetuating an even greater misunderstanding? Therein lies the risk in self-expression: le malentendu: misunderstanding.

(And now, a long and apprehensive pause at my keyboard. What to say next?)

I found my daughter. Sitting on a darkend curb across from the closed gates of her lycée.  She must have been waiting an hour after her bus never came ("The roads are blocked. People are gathering all the way from the town of Six Fours to Toulon, " Jackie explained). After 10 journalists and at least 4 police were killed yesterday, in Paris, French President Holland had declaired it a day of deuil

*    *    *

I first learned about Wednesday's tragedy on Facebook, via the now iconic placard: Je suis Charlie. The words were creepy at the time (was is some new horror film?), but I had not yet learned of the horrible attack at Charlie Hebdo.

Je suis charlie

As my husband, friends, and family began changing their Facebook profiles and banners to the black-n-white pancarte JE SUIS CHARLIE, news of the killings filtered into my head.

What began to worry me was the numbness: while everyone else was beating their chests in outrage, or dissolving into an ocean of tears at vigils all over the world, I was staring at my computer screen, taking in all the images and their meaning.

Just what did this all mean? And what was wrong with me? Where were my tears? Had I become a press zombie? So accustomed to reading all the horrific headlines that this one did not surprise me?

Or was I no more than an ignorant whiff of dust--naive at the very least! (or "at most"? I'm losing the sense of words, even as I type them!)

Stick together: solidarity

Soon, others' words helped me to process any locked up emotions. Ed Klinenberg's thoughts in particular:

This cowardly, horrible attack on a team of very creative French writers and artists is an attack on everyone in the world who values freedoms of all kinds, including freedom of speech, freedom to express one's thoughts, freedom to criticize society, freedom to publish, freedom to debate, freedom to associate with everyone, and other freedoms that I am too shaken up to think of at this moment! Je Suis Charlie! Vous Etes Charlie Aussi si vous etes une personne qui pense! Nous sommes tous Charlie! I strongly protest this dastardly attack on civilization. I stand with everyone who understands that we must all stand in solidarity for democracy and freedom and against demagogues who would all too gladly prefer to tell us what to think, how to act, and what to fear. The men who brought machine guns into this magazine office and slaughtered an entire team of thoughtful social critics are thugs pure and simple, and I eagerly wait for the announcement that the French police have caught them and any accomplices they may have so that all of them may be held accountable under French law for their horrible actions today in Paris.

While Ed's post helped me to process my emotions, another friend's Facebook post got my feelings so awakened they came kicking and screaming to life!

It was 6 a.m. Thursday morning when I saw that my friend--a gentle and enthusiastic supporter of my blog--posted an article on the top of my Facebook page. The article's subtitle stated that Muslims supported the attack at Charlie Hebdo.

But this was not so! Not the Muslims that I know!

I hurried to delete the update that was now the titre de séjour of my own FB page--only to learn the post was undeletable! Something about the link (to the original article) being broken meant that FB was unable to delete it. Undeterred, I hit the delete button until by index finger went raw.

Next I discovered the "Hide this post" button and began pounding that one.

But it was too late now. One hour later and another of my FB friends was now awake in France. A fifteen-year-old Muslim girl, a generous supporter of mine on Facebook. I knew she would be checking her friends' updates at this very moment, before school started--ready to encourage all her amies.

I am one such lucky amie. Every time I post a photo my young friend "likes" it.  I have been deeply touched by her attention, when she must have better things to do than to support a woman three times her age--from a completely different background and faith! 

Only, faith had never been an issue between us until this fateful day! What if she thinks that I endorse the article that was posted on my FB page?! And even if she knows me well enough, it hurt knowing she would see the images associated with the article. For just as it hurts me to see caricatures of Jesus--pictures of my savior holding a can of soda pop or wearing a political suit--it must hurt her to see the Muhammad cartoons.

"But you are naive! "A doctor once told me, at once belittling my faith and trying to bed me during a consultation for la grippe.  As I looked away in disbelief, my eyes caught on a volume in his medical library: Kama Sutra. The book was as displaced as his comment, which has bothered me to this day:

"Faith was created for the little people. Les ignorants." he said, handing me my bill dismissively, after I'd dismissed him. I ran right home to my ailing husband (who was being treated for exhaustion and depression by the same doctor)... and I never said a word.

Never say a word. It is easier, safer, and less complicated to be silent than to journal or blog or express one's feelings. See, I told you at the opening of this essay that it might be chaotic, as all over the place as my thoughts. Just how we ended up in the doctor's office together is beyond me. But so was the FB post I was trying so desperately to hide from my young friend. More than beyond me, it was out of my control.

All that was left was to have faith (and you didn't need to be a Christian or a Muslim for that). Have faith in humanity. Have faith that a misunderstanding will lead to conversation -- to a greater understanding of one another.

I may be "a little people" as my ex-doctor said--or prude or slow-witted or scared enough to tremble like a leaf at the thought of who might be unhappily reading. But none of this will shake my faith. And no journalist will have died in vain! Because no matter what it is I have to say--how little, how trite, how banal, how bright!, I have the right to say it in France today. 

And chances are, if you are reading this, you too have the gift of free speech. With this comes a great responsibility: may we all choose our words with kindness and sensitivity. And if we choose them flippantly, as we are apt to do--because we are tired or lonely or scared or dissatisfied or bored or hurting--may we take the time to slow down and reconsider the truth in our hearts.



P.S. I have left out so many things: The part about how I never cared for satire (but have since opened my heart and am trying to understand it in relation to FREE SPEECH),  and,  most important, how one unwanted comment (that post I'd tried so desperately to delete), led me to the following understanding: in trying to erase another's words, I was inadvertantly erasing one's freedom of speech. The following quote thoughtfully expresses this idea: 

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it

(words attributed to Voltaire, and belonging to Evelyn Beatrice Hall.)


  Biker in Italy
"Self expression in Italy" to end this post on a light note. Thank you very much for reading my journal. Without you, my own self-expression would be all bottled up. I am grateful and so thankful to be able to write in this journal and to share my perspective via photos.

If know of someone who might like to read today's post, thank you very much for forwarding it.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Robert Wildau

The murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo yesterday felt to me like a greater shock than anything we have seen since 9/11. All the polemics, all the discussion, all the appeals for inter-communal understanding that have racked our societies since 9/11 were steamrollered into dust by this attack on the very heart of free expression. It occurred in France, but we will all feel its effects.
It’s worth reading the NY Times piece on Charlie’s history, http://nyti.ms/1BJpQJq, to understand how bravely this publication waved the bloody flag of press freedom in the face of the most inhuman threats. Their insouciance, their joy in voicing the unspeakable, in insulting everybody and everything, is uniquely French. That unhinged, anarchic attitude was truly the antithesis of the Islamic fundamentalist idea that the most heinous acts are justified in the defense of … God.
I don’t think Charlie Hebdo had any circulation to speak of outside of France; even within France it always teetered on the edge of financial ruin. I never went beyond looking at it on the news stand and turning away from its gleeful juvenile rebelliousness — best and proudly described by Its rival Le Canard Enchainee as bete et mechant — "stupid and nasty." But until yesterday I didn’t appreciate how important it is to the whole world that such speech be protected. Justice Hugo Black said the protection of the First Amendment was most necessary for “the speech that we hate.” To the gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday that was an ineluctable challenge.
I think the most interesting upshot of this event is the likelihood that “tolerance” and “respect for (the Other’s) religion” will now be criticized as mere forms of political correctness. Self-censorship for the sake of the religious sensitivities of others, which Charlie always refused to do, may now be equated with giving in to pressure. Salman Rushdie, who ought to know, said that ‘all religion deserves our fearless disrespect.’ That’s an idea I wish we could all agree on. Charlie Hebdo's editors themselves looked to the day when their relentless satire would render "Islam as banal as Christianity."
That day now seems rather far off.

mh madera

Beautiful. Will repost on Instagram. Merci beaucoup.

Cindy Mc

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Thomas Jefferson


Your post was completely understandable. I think you are not alone in not knowing how to put words to this act and how it affects us - but you did it! I, too, am sitting here, dumbfounded. What to think? What to feel? How to respond? Your post is helping to open a dialog ... which I guess is where we need to go next, to greater understanding.

Barbara Jenkins

I just , a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. But read this from Nantucket But JE SUIS CHARLIE and am forwarding to many friends


Dear Kristin, Your blog is beautiful and covers all the right points. You have a great skill. I will post your blog on my FB page. One of the reasons I am reading your blog is that I am planning a trip to France with my wife and grandson for June. Our trip will take us past Dammartin-en-Goele. This brings the whole thing even closer to home. Now, I see another reason for reading your blog - you are wise and strong. Thank you. Richard


Thank you very much for sharing your feelings. Well said. Well written.I shared this on Facebook.

Sherry Sidner

Our hearts are broken for all of you in France during this time of sadness. So many emotions are involved when something like this happens.

Sending love from America, Sherry

Nina Tullett

Je suis Charlie.

Nancy Stilwagen

Perhaps you can comment on that comment you are unable to delete, saying that you don't agree with it.

These terrorists were 'offended' by what the paper offered. I am of the deep belief that taking offense is a choice. You can choose to become outraged, or you can choose to ignore or understand it. So someone makes a caricature of your god. Does it really affect you and your beliefs? It is only a picture, no? The terrorists chose to be angered, and to kill because of it. It tells me they are not so sure of their own faith.


i completely understand, and empathize, with your feeling of SHOCK after learning of the events in paris, and how they impacted your thought processes (getting lost). i am a new yorker, and was present during the 9/11/01 attacks, knowing people in the buildings, and having a husband working for FDNY that day (he made it, only to contract 9/11-related brain cancer 8 years later). i was, at the time, a librarian, who literally read for a living. but after i witnessed the images and news of that horrible day, I WAS UNABLE TO READ. my brain was so overloaded with shock and pain, that it would not process the words. you are so correct, however ~ the knowledge, or belief, that PEOPLE ARE REALLY, TRULY GOOD, saved us all in the aftermath. as the "help" poured in from all over the U.S. and the world, those beliefs were validated, and humanity shone, once again.

Jeanne in Oregon

One of the things I remember most about 9/11 in America was how we, as a people, came together in our shared shock, grief, and resolve in the days following that horrific event. President Bush became a comforting father figure, assuring us that justice would be done. And, over the years to follow, while our solidarity has weakened, many of those responsible for plotting that dreadful day are no longer walking this earth.

Now the dear people of France are experiencing a similar, although smaller scale tragedy. The continuing news coverage here in America is informing us of ongoing hostage situations, killings, police actions, and the solidarity of the people of France, and throughout the world, who are proudly proclaiming "Je suis Charlie."

You and I, as Christians, know that our religion does not teach this sort of violence toward others, but we must not be naïve about the fact that the Muslim faith does. While MOST Muslims are peace loving people, it is because their particular religious leaders do not encourage them to fanatically follow the full teachings of Mohammed. Unfortunately, both in mosques and on the internet around the world, there are fanatics teaching and encouraging just the sort of horrific acts we see occurring around the world. Much prayer is needed for protection from these lunatics, and much leadership is needed among Muslim teachers/Imans to join together in preaching against jihad.

My prayer for France, and for other countries and peoples facing these acts of terror, is for God's Hand of Protection, for strong and effective leadership, for safety and wisdom for your police and citizens, and for continued solidarity in finding solutions to this global threat. God help us all.

Stephanie Sabourin

I have thought the same so many times. I have found so much of what I have seen of the Charlie Hedbo offensive to my faith and others, and I try to build others up, not tear them down. I believe attacking others does not change them but only makes them angry. But even so, I will defend the right of people to speak their mind, for to some my Christian speech may be offensive. What has happened and is still happening today is horrible and terribly sad. We stand with France in thought and prayers.

Ted Tanase

Je suis Charlie!!! From Seattle. WA, USA.

Debra Houston

Thanks, Kristin! Your words encourage me. Yesterday I accepted the opportunity to write a twice monthly column for an online forum (Gwinnettforum.com). The editor said I could write on ANY subject I choose. I have the same concerns that you stated --- afraid to offend, bore, etc. Thank you for illustrating that we need courage to speak the truth. We must not be intimidated into silence or into playing it "safe." Your words today will help me kick off my column with the right attitude, of honesty and courage. Prayers for France as the ordeal continues with hostages. Our hearts in America are with the French. God bless!

k sperrazza

Change MUST come from within. Muslim leadership needs to stand up at once to purge its faith of this cancer. God shows his face after every attack in the inherent goodness of people of all faiths who are immediately there to help heal each other. I pray for hearts to change and for understanding to emerge in a hurting world. Nous sommes Charlie ici à Buffalo, NY et tout le monde.

Robin Katsaros

I simply wished I was there with you. To comfort and hold you up. And to all my French friends I have reached out to in the last few days. Discussion, anger, despair, hope - all raging emotions felt in our deepest recesses. Thank you for your words. And we are all so blessed to be able to think and yes, write them without fear of retribution. I pray for the families of those taken.

John Moeling

In Connecticut, some of us decided to respond by going to Amazon and subscribing to Charlie Hebdo. Subscription is expensive but so is freedom. Leave it to the Muslims to decide among themselves to become outraged and take action to prepare their young for more productive lives.

From what I've heard, content of Charlie Hebdo isn't my normal fare -- but that's way beyond the point. Ditto The Interview, awful film I spent $6 to watch.

Lisa Sarasohn

I can't read your words about your doctor "at once belittling my faith and trying to bed me during a consultation" without pausing to register anger and outrage. A doctor, a man in a professional position of trust, sexually harassing you? I'm so sorry for whatever hurt you experienced because of that incident.

As we know, individual and collective violence against women is all too common, practically the norm in contemporary culture.

We can't ignore the gun violence that destroys lives, attempting to impose power over and eliminate others' freedom of expression. How can we ignore any man's attempt to impose power over and eliminate any woman's freedom to be?

Sharon Aaseng

Thank you so much for writing what you've written in your blog, but especially today. I appreciate every posting -- your fresh perspectives on life there are completely fascinating. You have again succeeded in making me understand more. I have French friends in the US and people in France whom I love. I offer my support to everyone who is suffering from this current evil. Please know, Kristi, that you have many fans who look forward to hearing your stories and opinions, and that you are important to us.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,

I am praying for all the dead at Charlie Hebado and the hostages in the two locations in Paris, the grocery store and the little printing shop. I am also praying that the moderate Muslims in our world will have the courage to stand up against these terrorists who have hijacked their religion. I just wish we would hear more from them, but sadly there is always silence.

louise kahler

Reposted. Merci, Kristin. Merci.

John Morgan

I look forward to each of your postings because of your ability to reach into my "French" consciousness and remind me of the simple wonders that are France and her people. You don't delve into the deeper meanings of the news of the day and, until today, I thought that was a good thing.
Your comments are a powerful reminder that we are all intertwined in the world and that acts like the one perpetrated in Paris this week affect us all. We must support all people, especially the Muslim community that abhors this kind of violent, senseless act. Everything we say has the ability to hurt or heal but we should not be prevented from saying it.
I will continue to look forward to your "letters" and will continue to support everyone's right to say what they feel is important whether I agree with it or not.

Alice Freeman

Bravo, Kristi!


Thank you for saying you don't understand satire (I'm with you there)...but no religion or belief should inhibit anyone's right to freely speak ones mind. If you don't agree with the satire or the opinion, as an human being and not an animal, you discuss your differences rationally. You may find a middle ground...or agree to disagree. You don't murder in your God's name.

Karen O'Connor

I've been thinking of you often since the attack. It was so good to see you in my inbox this morning. Hugs

Linda Frank

Your post today was very very powerful. Thank you for expressing what I am sure many feel.

Jackie Layton

Je suis Charlie!

Beautiful post for a horrific event. God bless!


Je suis Charlie.

Julene Newland-Pyfer

You have expressed my very own chaotic thoughts regarding this issue. I am deeply saddened by yet another tragedy. Terrorism in any form is simply wrong. Human beings are all connected. We are all injured in some way when hatred runs amok even though it has occurred thousands of miles away. All of the world's great religions share more in common than we realize. I have come to believe that fundamentalism in any religion breeds hatred, not love. Je suis Charlie.


I have tears in my eyes and have been so "unsettled" since this all began. Sending hugs and prayers for the end of all this. I only hope that these horrific events, in France, and all over the world, lead us to a better understanding of our shared humanity, and put us on the road to a better co-existence.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

The pain comes through with your words!

Maybe those seeking martyrdom by these despicable methods will be surprised and receive justice the French way . . . . . “eating dandelions by the root”!


James Navé

A young poet friend of mine Ocean Vuong (http://www.oceanvuong.com) who is on his way to being a major poet, said the main job of poets and writers is to suggest a new hierarchy. In times like these, we must at least attempt such a thing.

The poet Langston Hughes says,

“I loved my friend
He went away from me
There's nothing more to say
The poem ends,
Soft as it began-
I loved my friend.”

Je suis Charlie.

Sue Lennox

From the heart, as always, Kristi. Thank you for expressing what many of us feel but cannot put into words.


I loved your blog for I was heartfelt and so open expressing all the thoughts, the issues, the potential paths for misunderstanding.

I also appreciate your blog for it brings a topic into our thoughts and minds and has us think about the implications of such an attack.

What is key is that freedom of speech is a crucial freedom.

My heart goes out to the families of those that were killed, And to all that do not have the freedom of speech.

P.s. The person that usurped your FB page has bad manners.

Karen Cafarella

Your words are from the heart and express the deep sadness we all feel.

Je suis Charlie.

Gail Lentz (Gaelle)

I, too, was shocked and saddened at such senseless violence. It reminds me of the saying "Freedom isn't free". That there are those who painted ultimate price for our freedoms against those who attempt to steal it. Tragedies like this seem to unite the world. May we not fear these brutal bullies!
As for the Drs comment...I'm speechless at his gall. SO glad you said he was now your ex-physician! (Although I did envision JM punching him in the nose) 😉
Je suis Charlie!!

Carol Johnson

Faith was created for little people your doctor said Kriitin, but the Lord our God said, and his word is true,

New International Version

The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Sara Larsen

Dear Kristi,
Your anguished letter to us, who love you and love France, is the best expression of freedom of thought I have ever read. Thanks and love and, with sadness, Je suis Charlie.

Chris Allin

Chere Kristi,

Beautifully expressed and so heartfelt. You captured the emotional and confusing thoughts many of us seem to be having right now.

Wishing you and everyone God's peace, which truly passes all understanding...


Thank you for such a succinct expression as we are all filled with many emotins right now.
We are ALL Charlie. Our hearts ache for the continuing events in Paris...for all of the world for that matter. Rogue operatives are not representative of any people of faith, no matter what that faith is. To justify heinous actions as being in "the name of God or Allah" is blasphemy. No matter what, we must never condemn an entire people for the actions of a few.
Stand strong Paris, just as those cities who have experienced similar horrors have.
Our hearts are with you.

Cheryl in STL

Thanks for you post today, Kristin. My thoughts have also been helter-skelter. When I lived in Paris I dated a man who is Muslim. He is not anything like the people who make headlines. And I still struggle with the reactions that seem to blame all Muslims. My heart aches for the city I love and for the French people.

Avril Rustage-Johnston

Heartfelt and vividly expressed, Kristin; never doubt your ability to convey what you feel and think.
Nous sommes tous Charlie.

Vivian Langley

Je suis Charlie: Prayers, prayers for la belle France and for humanity.

Annette Heath

Je suis Charlie. My small French flag adorns my door and will remain there for some time.


When tempted to view all Muslims as terrorists, remind yourself that Christianity too has had its moments of extreme cruelty. For an example in southern France, there's the massacre at Béziers during the Albigensian crusade: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/12976/Albigensian-Crusade

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are both forms of recognizing the value of each individual, whatever he or she may believe and say.

Linda V

This brings back horrible memories of 9/11 in the US...prayers for France.

Tim Teusink

You have expressed so eloquently what is on many of our hearts, Kristin. Merci et bon courage à tous.


Dear Kristin,
I have read every word of yours, twice, and every one of the comments. I am reduced to tears and yet full of pride, in knowing you and, a bit more, about all my brave & thoughtful fellow readers. 'Nous sommes Charlie!' When I called my husband last night he answered the phone with "Je suis Charlie." I didn't know what he was talking about as I have been out of state and yesterday wasn't connected to any news information. Naturally, I was horrified and so saddened after he told me about Charlie Hebdo. One side note he mentioned, rather adamantly, was that he was NOT going to let this keep us from going to Paris in the Spring - hateful people are not going to take him with them. We will remain steadfast in our love of our fellow man and the people's right to express themselves in a non-violent manner. Your writing expressed so much of what we felt.

I too had a similar experience at the doctor's years ago and have never told a soul until just this minute - and I am so saddened once again, and angry (for you and for me!). But, you, your readers, have such open hearts and minds, that I am feeling renewed. Thank you!

Cynthia Crane

It's clear how much time and thought you put into the expression of your feelings about this incomprehensible nightmare. Americans are with you. Mercifully, we are over the franco-phobia of the Bush years. J'adore les français. Je t'embrasse, Kristen. Bon courage. Merci, Cynthia


Thank you for what you have said here, Kristin. After reading some of the comments on your FB page, I was a bit nervous, but reading your piece here reminds me that you are a strong woman with a great and expressive mind of her own. And you are right to leave the haters comments, so that we can read them and be aware that great work still needs to be done. Many of my Muslim friends in Malaysia are as shocked as we are here in the U.S. Keep up your good work-I await each post!

Nyla Witmore

As an artist, while watching the first days of the 9/11 tragedies, I (like you) experienced the numbness...no, it was more like PARALYSIS of the mind and senses TO FEEL AND MAKE SENSE OF FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS. With a big lump in my throat, I set up a large canvas to "work out" what I could not put into words. The first canvas I titled "Order Out Of Chaos" and while I could NOT create a visual expression of order, I did capture the inner chaos. I did a painting a day for 11 days. The first three days there was mostly abstract shapes and a cacophany of colors juxtaposed. After the third day shapes of people began to appear....the fourth day, those people began to have faces and emotions. The last painting created a message all by itself. Let me explain... I found myself painting a circle of various ethnic women holding hands, with a globe of the earth in the center. A DRIP OF RED PAINT fell from my brush, falling on the leg of a young girl holding hands with the others. She represented a young American girll. I was about to wipe off the drip of red paint when suddenly a message shouted out to me. This YOUNG GIRL REPRESENTED A NAIEVE NATION,, AMERICA PERSONIFIED BY THE DRIPPING BLOOD OF MENSTRUATION...A COMING OF AGE. We, as a nation, (unlike most nations around the world) have not known repeated historical ravaging of our soil by bombs, tterror and the killing of citizens whose religious beliefs differ from those in power. NOW WE KNOW...and we mourn for other countries, like FRANCE in the news today.

While the Muslims do not speak out against their own terrorists (why not?), Christian History in the Middle Ages (Crusader and Knights Templar) also have bloody hands. As others above have pointed out....Freedom, responsibility and wise choices of when to speak and how to speak is at the fore.

John in NYC

"May we all choose our words with kindness and sensitivity." Well said! Thank you, Kristin.


As always Kristin, your honesty, spontaneity (you call it chaos)coupled with your great gifts as a writer, bring a personal yet universal way of looking at the horrendous events of the past few days. The beauty of your blog is how you open it up for free form dialogue about so many aspects of French life. I live in france and have my own blog, but read yours religiously (faith in words! spoken with heart & soul. I end with a timeless poem by William Stafford, one of my favorite poets.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break . . .

I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact . . .

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.


Jan in Colorado

Your post was lovely and heartfelt. My own heart has been in France since the horrific events in Paris with parallels to 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. I wish there were a "like" button for some of your readers' comments that were particularly insightful. Freedom of speech is often a very difficult right to support, but support it we must. JE SUIS CHARLIE! PARIS STRONG!!!

Beth Vosoba

I also do not appreciate political satire, but after watching a program about these artists and their lives I have a great respect for what they do. As you said, it's not about whether we like what they draw or say, it's that everyone has that right.

David Sheegog




We are all a little discombobulated by the tragedy in Paris, but this is truly one of your best posts ever. It sums up the feelings of so many so well. Though I may not agree with the cartoons or the satire here in les Etats-Unis or en France, I too will defend the rights of others.

Thank you for the post. I will share it with my students this morning.


*Kristin...dang keyboard!

Carol Carney

Thank you for your post, Kristi. The horrible attack on freedom of expression unites us all in resolve to protect that very freedom.

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
George Washington, America's First President

With love to you,
Carol Carney
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA

Elaine Poynter

Kristi, when I heard the news, I began to pray for you and your family, and then all of France, US and the rest of the free world. Je suis Charlie.

Thank you again for sharing your life with us.


Je suis Charlie!


Je suis Charlie!


Kristi, You, the victim's dear ones and your nation have suffered a great trauma. May you all take good care of yourselves and may all of us around the world hold the space for healing. In my opinion, terrorism flourishes when there is an absence of love in the lives of children and adults. May we uplift those people and organizations that are providing care and shelter to children, young people, all who would otherwise never know it. I enjoy your posts because of the beautiful spirit of life they offer the world. From a very little person, Sherry


Je suis Charlie! Merci Kristi!

LaRaine LeVan

Je suis Charlie! from San Diego, California, USA. Enough is enough! I am of French ancestry and my heart aches for the French people...but after you mourn for your dead it is time to act--time to reclaim the regions of France that have been invaded by Muslim extremists. They must abide by the laws of France, not those of their own creation; if not, then return them to their own country.
Sadly I have little room to preach to you because we here in America are burdened with a weak Socialist leader who has tried to dismantle our Constitution and attack our freedoms. Our only hope is that next election he be replaced so we can recover from him.
Kristin...worrying about what everyone else thinks is a huge waste of energy and a big source of stress...find your voice and just be yourself! I hope someone continues with Charlies paper!




I was deeply touched by the outpouring of grief in these posts until I got to the last one here. Shame on you, Ms. LeVan for spewing a bit of political venom in the midst of this tragedy. Your words are greatly misplaced.
Kristin, Nous sommes tous Charlie.

edie schmidt


I think that quote from Voltaire is so appropriate. Thanks for your post.
Violence is never the answer.

Edie from Savannah

Dawn Bouchard, Beavercreek, Ohio

Thank you so much for sharing your heart! What a reminder for all of us that all words do have consequences, that the answer is not to stop sharing our hearts and thoughts, but to do it with great care, remembering the ultimate goal of communication should be to see our desire of understanding realized ... even when misunderstanding has gotten in the way. Thanks for keeping conversation going, keeping us moving towards that goal.
Je Suis Charlie!

Joanne Ablan

From a Book of Wisdom: Proverbs 9: 8 " Reprove not an arrogant
man , lest he hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man , and he becomes still wiser; teach a just man,
and he advances in learning." This violence against freedom is
truly sad and scary. Nevertheless, I applaud your comments that we all need to choose our words carefully so as to not sow hatred into an already troubled world. When our local cartoonist died, a plaque honoring him was placed in the small park across the street from the Post Office where his socially critical cartoons (nothing was sacred!) are framed and hung to amuse all and for all to appreciate. The highly socially just and free French society will undoubtedly bring the perpetrator(s) to justice because without justice there is no freedom. Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA


Hi Kristi,
Although I read your blog regularly this is the first time I have responded to one of your posts! Even though you were afraid your words were scattered and disjointed I found them very heartfelt, moving and touching... Your words brought tears to my eyes and renewed my gratitude for the democracy we live in... Thank You!
Bonita Springs, FL

Faye in Lafayette,  La.

As always, Kristi, thank you for your blog. Your words and those of the responders to your blog help to remind us that we indeed are all connected in the world soul.
Freedom has never been free & freedom of speech must always begin w/ sensitivity and kindness. Seemingly, it is all a great paradox which must be understood, not only with the intellect, but with the heart and soul as well.

catharine ewart-touzot

What sadness...for us all. With the second attack on the Kosher deli..I feel not just sadness but fear for the Jewish population in France. I have lived in Paris, and loved every minute. I have lived in Algeria, and loved it there also..when I left Algeria, for what I knew would be my last time I felt heavy regret. I knew many kind, gentle Muslins while living there. I have never been a fan of satire, and I dislike anyone making fun of something held dear to another....but there is NO excuse for anyone thinking that it is their right to kill. It is no one's right to mistreat another, to force them to bend to your wants or beliefs. This increasing behavior of radical Muslims is totally unacceptable! This belief that any of us should be subject to Muslim law is unacceptable. I hear the news say that this was all caused because of a newspaper..NO this happened because some individuals believe that their right to oppress others is more valid that the rights of another. Stephane Charbonnier is so correct in saying that it is better to live free than to live like rat, in hiding. Je suis Charlie!

Judy Bell

There are now amongst us, many people who are unemployed who have access to guns. These people -- of every persuasion -- are frustrated, and are often used as pawns by others. Voltaire said: God gave us the gift of life. It is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. People who bring satire to us, in my opinion, ARE giving us the gift of living well because they make us look at ourselves, question ourselves more deeply and sometimes, they even make us laugh at ourselves. On the other hand, people who kill because of belief systems, or because they themselves are frustrated with lives not lived well, are the truly tragic ones.

Elizabeth Gallant

Thank you!

Bob Haine

I too saw the "Je suis Charlie" posts on Facebook but had no idea what "Charlie Hebdo" was or is. Then I saw the articles about the shooting and the reports of death and hostages, etc., etc. I'm not big on religious satire, nor am I happy with a lot of what I see on television, the internet, or social media. But to kill someone who disagrees with you or who believes in something that you don't? Killing in the name of God? That is not religion!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Thank you, chere Kristi; je te remercie de tout cœur. Openness, insight, heartfelt eloquence -- your gifts enrich the humanity of us all as we reel from the reality of our vulnerability to hatred from within as well as from without.

Marti walker

We are with you, France.

Beverly Tharp

Thanks for your thoughtful post and for giving so many a place to share their thoughts. Our hearts are with you and everyone in beloved France.


One of my favorites of all your posts.
Your candor is wonderful. Bon courage!
Nous sommes tous Charlie.

Mim (Richmond, VA)

Thank you for posting this. The quote is exactly how I feel. This is a terrible situation, I don't have words to express how I feel.

Joan L.

Je suis Charlie a Kankakee Illinois.
Bravo Kristi!

Ken boyd

I am appalled to see you have tried to censor a writer
because you disagree with him .
Its good you caught yourself in the act but even so, you
Kristi , are not using your mind and showing a complete lack
of knowledge of French history . When the last Jew leaves
France in fear of his life will that mean anything to you ?
Have you thought …. REALLY thought why and who
is persecuting them ? Can you open your eyes and mind
and use reason ? Or you and others afraid to think .
I am sick in my stomach over the murders in such
a wonderful country and wonder why this is
tolerated . Pieces of paper held up in the air
sounds like surrender to me .

Ken Boyd
Napa Valley

Susie B

Salut Kristi! While I have been a loyal follower of your marvelous blog for many years, your post today has prompted me to make my first comment. As a former resident of Aix en Provence, now living in the US but frequenting the area often, I especially enjoy your writings since your move south. Today, as i sit before my keyboard, poised to actually make a comment, i may feel as you did at your keyboard ,- not quite sure what to say…i am numb, speechless but feeling the need to thank and applaud you for your eloquent words( particularly) today. Your ability to put your feelings(ours too) about the current situation in France down on 'paper' were right on. Je suis Charlie, Nous sommes tous Charlie!! As a fellow Christian and loving human being, I also join you, and many of your readers, in lifting you, your family and fellow French citizens up in thought and prayer. May God keep you safe and bring some good out of this horrific situation. Let all peoples of all faiths live and work with the "fruits of the spirit"… love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
A la prochaine,

Robert Powell

All I can say is we need to be on guard against generalizing. Some people did some horrible things this week but I push myself to remember that an entire nation or religion did not do these things.


Your words and confusion and recovery are touching, and universal. My fingers wrote my own blogpost under compulsion, almost without volition: http://touch2touch.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/in-solidarity/
But the most important part of it is in the conversation that follows via the conversation, with people all over the globe, each viewpoint casting perhaps a little more light. Most important is the story told by Ali, who is Muslim, about Muhammed the Prophet, a story to put the lie to the criminals and thugs who have hijacked the religion of Islam and put it to their own murderous ends. In Solidarity!


Sorry, I meant the conversation following via the comments ---

Koula Louras

Kristi - Merci beaucoup for today's blog, as many others have already said, it was magnificent! May Kindness and Compassion prevail to all.

Edward Bornet

Je suis Charlie!!!!

My condolences to all who had loved ones perish. My condolences to France for having this happen on her soil.

I am just at a loss to say more. What did those 5 people in grocery do to anyone. They were shopping for Shabbot dinner, a meal that honors G-D. The same G-D that the prophet Mohammed honored.

Jacqueline Pope

Dear Kristi,

My thoughts and prayers are for my beloved France and its people. My heart hurts for the families of the victims. Especially prayers of comfort and peace for you and your family because I know you.
I remember the wandering of my body and mind on 9/11 here in the states. Bewilderment, confusion, where was my family and were they safe and the reality of the what had happened here on our soil. It seemed impossible. That some hearts hated so badly was beyond my grasp that day. And I am a veteran. But this was different.

Many of those thoughts and feelings have once again resurfaced and once again I wonder why we can not sit down and talk, eliminate perceptions and judgments and discover one another and respect our differences. We don't have to agree. I believe the mothers of the world could do just that. A world mother's conference? As your relationship with your precious friend shows, the chasms don't have to exist. The solutions outside politics may be the answer. We are loosing too many people from distrust and misunderstanding amongst cultures. Don't believe arming ourselves with guns is the answer. But I don't know what is.

And is it all because we do not talk or better yet, because we do not listen?

Many are hurting for all of you now. Healing takes awhile. Much love and prayers are being sent your way and on your behalf. Get some rest as you can, dear Kristi.
You do a magnificent job! As here, you are starting a dialogue and who knows, maybe a solution will surface from some very wise supporter. Keep on keeping on gal.
God's blessings,

Ginny McCann

Ma chère Kristi, Like you I am a Christian American, a Catholic Christian. Thank you for sharing your innermost feelings with us today. The thought of 911 still brings forth strong emotions having known those who were first responders and also victims. My first thoughts were of the horror and then of my French friends who were feeling this as we Americans felt 911. Like you, I have not been a fan of political satire feeling that it was at times too sharp and disrespectful especially when focused on Jesus or Mohammed. But then Molière was a satirist railing against the society of the day. Some of us might wish that others would show more respect in sacred areas but like, you and Pascal, I would defend to the death their right to free expression. Without freedom of speech, we have no freedoms. Thank you again.


I am sobbing as I read this.

Nous sommes soeurs.

This is the realest, rawest post I've ever read from you. It makes me respect you in ways I never would have if you'd just kept presenting your "Almost Perfect" French life.

Let it rip, sister. These days are dark.

Love in Him who loves us ALL,


Satire has its place – it is a comment which one can choose to ignore. Hatred is an emotion one chooses. It is not justifiable by any religion. To live in a harmonious society, individuals must take responsibility and be the change they want to see. Their words, thoughts and deeds at home ripple out into the wider community. The mighty ocean is made of individual drops of water. Let each of us be drops of love, tolerance, respect, understanding, compassion, equality of opportunity and peace.


An excellent post today, Kristi!

John Schofield

Je suis Charlie? Moi aussi!
One marvelous thing about you. It is marvelous that a girl who grew up in the Phoenix area and settled in La Bell France is writing the wonderful blog so emotionally that "stream of conscience-ness" is appearing in French and English interchangeably!

Suzanne in New Jersey

Feeling numb is normal. But you will soon feel grief. No offense is a defense against the murders that the people of France have experienced. We must unite again terrorism and against racism.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

The event at Charlie Hebdo was so awful, worse because the jerks called out names. By now, the two brothers chose their ending by coming out to police with guns blazing, choosing death over a trial. Oui, nous sommes tous Charlie.

One of the earlier commenters seems unaware that Muslims do come out in times like these to rejct this violence. They do speak, calmly and clearly.

The fun cultural link I learned in all this horror is that Charlie of Paris was named for Charlie Brown of Peanuts, way back in 1969 or 1970.

Not all satire is created equal, but I enjoy it when I understand it, and laugh. If Charlie Hebdo is too hard to take, you might start with a source satire in the US that began between Milwaukee and Chicago, The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/
Back when it was printed on paper, they would often write a very funny headline and two sentences of an article, saying the usual newspaper line, continued on page 8. Of course there was nothing on page 8 -- I can get jokes like that. Now it is totally on line. To me a lot of their humor is gentler, from everyday life. And there is always some that I just do not get.

Absorbing the events of this week in France will take me a while. I cannot understand such violence, or such unbridled desire for power. I am glad we stand united to push back against it, or better, to give those young adults something better to do with their lives.

It intrigues me how completely personal your own reactions are. I think your facebook page is your space and you are free to delete what is not your speech. Just like this blog is your place to share your views.

Andrea Hughes

Je suis Charlie a Redondo Beach, California!

Jeanne Filiatrault Laine

Oui, moi aussi, je suis Charlie ici à Duluth, Minnesota. Nous sommes tous Charlie. Bon courage everyone.
Jeanne F L

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)