Holly West's important post on the Charlie Hebdo attack inspired this one.
Like Holly, I worry I have nothing new to add to the discussion, but feel compelled, as a journalist to point out that sadly, the death of journalists for expressing freedom of speech is nothing new.
Yes, the Charlie Hebdo deaths were particularly heinous and shocking. And the outrage and protests are loud and powerful and heartwarming, and yet, I worry that nothing will change and that it is only getting worse.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says that 1,110 journalists have been killed across the world since 1992.
Journalists are going head-to-head with terrorists, corrupt governments and warlords to shed a light on atrocities every single day. We need them out there risking their lives so we can do our part in protecting the weak and helping the innocent. We need them to risk their lives to tell us the true story of events around the world in the hopes that by revealing these inhumane acts, someone will be motivated to do something to stop them or change them or send help to those who need it.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 70 journalists died in 2013.
Deaths were broken down by the "beat" the journalist covered.
I cover crime for my newspaper. A lot of people have told me I'm brave to do that, going out talking to serial killers and gang bangers, but guess what? Covering the crime beat wasn't even one of the top three most dangerous beats to cover.
If you covered war, you were most likely to die on the job. After that, journalists who covered politics and then those who covered human rights.
To me, that is the most depressing statistic — that so many journalists covering human rights were risking their lives to help others obtain the basic rights that any person on this earth deserves.
Last year in Tunisia a "death list" circulated naming writers and journalists who supposedly were antagonistic toward Islam. It's surely not the only place where this has happened.
In a January 9th post on CPJ's website, the organizations's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour, said this: "Iran has started the new year as it ended the old: by arresting journalists."
While I find the Charlie Hebdo massacre terrifying, what I also find horrific is the idea that journalists will be too afraid to get out there and tell the truth for fear of death.
And what, you might ask, does this have to do with crime fiction writers?
It has everything to do with us.
Can you say Salman Rushdie?
We are no different. We are a different medium, but I believe many of us write crime fiction to expose atrocities that take place in our world. Are we going to be silenced, as well? Are we going to censor ourselves when the day comes that a fiction writer is not only the subject of a fatwa, but is slain for his or her writing?
Rushdie spoke out this week while giving a speech at the University of Vermont in Burlington.
"Both John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela use the same three-word phrase which in my mind says it all, which is 'Freedom is indivisible,'" he said. "You can't slice it up, otherwise it ceases to be freedom. You can dislike Charlie Hedbo. ... But the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak."