Morts de Rire

Morts de rire


Don’t talk politics and religion with your friends and family, my father reminded me countless times. They are guaranteed to upset someone. Stay away from them. And from discussing cars, too, he always added with a smiling wink.

He was right, of course, to want peace at home, with his friends and relatives.

Most bloggers just do the same. With our still new communication tools where Like is the only option, where we pick our best photos and fill our posts with positive vibe, my father’s simple piece of advice is what we all follow.

In order to keep disagreement at bay. In order to keep things quiet. In order to be liked.

Like my father, I know that politics and religion make people disagree, fight, and even kill.

Unlike him, though, I think we must shout when freedom of speech is threatened, even if it means talking of politics and religion.

Yesterday was a sad day in France, my native land. So much of the same information was provided round the clock and so many emotions battled inside me that I never thought of a blog post.

I’ve also learned that it’s better for me to wait before jumping to my keyboard.

This morning, though, keeping quiet is no longer possible.

I’m a reader and a writer and as such I strongly support freedom of speech.

The killing of the editorial staff of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo is simply an upfront attack to this fundamental right, key to true democracy.

Charlie Hebdo was an unusual magazine. Even for cynical France, Charlie Hebdo pushed establishment far beyond what had ever been done. The content was funny, often hilarious, smart, totally irreverent, and always on target. Regardless of the political orientation of the government in place, power was always challenged. As were all religions, especially when extremism was the agenda.

My generation grew up with Charlie Hebdo. Most of us probably got some of our critical sense, our dark sense of humor, and also our open minds from reading Charlie Hebdo.

It doesn’t mean that I loved everything they did. As a teenage girl coming-of-age, some cartoons and captions shocked me, made me uncomfortable and question my role as a woman. What shocks, disturbs and challenges has a place. Without shock, disturbance and challenge we are people who click on the Like button and only publish happy posts. Myself included.

I chose the sign Morts de Rire for this post, while most French people have picked Je Suis Charlie or I Am Charlie, because I do remember so vividly how my friends and I used this expression, decades before the American LOL became the norm on social media.

Few French prefer MDR or Morts de Rire, literally dying while laughing, to the universal LOL.

Morts de Rire was Charlie Hebdo’s signature trademark.

Laughing and making people laugh while tackling serious, important issues was Charlie Hebdo’s mission.

Their only credo.


  1. And their legacy will no doubt last well beyond the names of the scum that perpetrated this atrocity. As for religion, any such insect such as these one can find an excuse for violence. I for one don’t recall the prophet instructing such behaviour. Not in our name is our response. A sad day for humanity

    • I’m glad to read your comment, Uncle Spike. I know that you’ve voiced your opinion on the matter of religious extremism with respect and restraint. I agree with you. What happened has nothing to do with genuine religious beliefs. It does mean, however, that there are deep issued beneath this kind of violent acts. The answer is complex and will be the work of our century.

      • And many to come… it will never be resolved (think back to the jolly old crusades, and brutal and needless they were, but all the name of religion.

  2. Sisyphus47 says:

    Un vieux proverbe: “Qui sème le vent, récolte la tempête…”, victimes innocentes, une civilisation coupable? _ néanmoins, bonne année Evelyne 🙂

    • Charlie Hebdo ne machait pas ses mots ni ses dessins, vous avez raison. Que l’on partage ou pas l’humour décapant du magazine (et je ne partageais pas tout) une telle violence est cependant inexcusable. Derrière l’extrémisme religieux se cachent de réels problèmes aux racines profondes et nous en partageons la responsabilité, c’est vrai. De nouveau, les armes et la violence ne sont cependant pas la réponse. Bonne année aussi Sisyphus et merci pour votre visite.

      • Sisyphus47 says:

        I can but agree with you Evelyne. I was referring to the interventionist (to put it mildly) policies of the last decade, which was a fatal departure from the Gaullist reserve and caution of older times (pour la France: je suis un Gaulliste). Those crime are abominable, and so is the sight of powerful nations bombing the poor and vulnerable to smithereens…

  3. Well done Evelyne. Well done.

  4. cardamone5 says:

    I am sorry for how personal this attack is for you. I had never heard of the publication, but was horrified by the crime. Freedom of speech must be protected, not attacked. People do not die for being lampooned, and therefore, the people doing the lampooning should not die. I am thinking of you, and of those that died.


    • I’m sure that the name of this publication was new to a majority of Americans until yesterday. And I totally understand. Elizabeth. When an attack against freedom of speech is so violent, it’s good to see that so many people are outraged. Finding a solution to religious fanatism is a huge task. France will have to play an important role. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words.

  5. This explains some of the things I’ve seen on French websites that I did not understand. This is not news that I’ve seen here in the U.S. I am sad for you. We’ve seen the paring away of freedom here … on television, in print, everywhere. It seems to be quite the trend and I hope it is a trend that can be reversed. Soon.

    • Like I said above to Elizabeth, this French magazine was probably unknown to most American people until yesterday. The editorial team created a very unique magazine, purposely irreverent and provocative. They challenged any form of power, and anyone and anything could be their target. Humor was used as a tool to make their readers think beyond the initial laugh. I agree that it could be tough, but they didn’t spare anyone and consequently couldn’t be accused to be from any side, politically and religiously. France is going through tough times but I’m moved by the solidarity the French people have showed since yesterday. Thank you, Marilyn, for your visit and support.

  6. Thanks again Evelyn. So much.

  7. Thanks Evelyne. You explained so well how we French expat around rhe world and people in France feel today.

  8. I am sad for you, your country and people everywhere who are silenced or intimidated to be so. Like the thousands who have come out to the streets, in protest and solidarity, against the tyranny of censorship-in the name of a god or prophet-know that freedom will prevail.

    • Thank you, Mona. Of all people, I know how you feel about any kind of censorship. The fact that so many agree on the importance of freedom of speech is great, however. See you soon.

  9. Dear Evelyne, I immediately thought of you when I heard the dreadful news. I am so, so sorry for this atrocity that has come upon your native homeland. Life cannot be all positivity and happiness, sadly. You write of the truth and rightly so. I stand by your side in the face of this tragedy as your friend and ‘neighbour.’

    • You’re indeed my neighbor, from both sides of the ocean, so thank you so much, Sherri, for your support. Since we all write through blog posts, stories or novels, we know well how important words are. Keeping them free as any other form of art is crucial to a free world.

  10. Thank you Evelyne for sharing your thoughts and for educating us at this very sad time. To a degree, we are all injured by these tragic and senseless events. I am proud to follow your blog.

    • Thank you, Dan. Whenever a free country is attacked by fanatics, it’s a good feeling to see that most people are outraged. I was hesitant about writing this post and yet felt compelled to tell a little bit about what happened and chose to write in English so it would be easier for most. See you.

  11. Thanks a lot for your message , I do agree with your point of view, we can all have our own ideas and opinion and it’s still our basic right to express them. As some french people here I wasn’t always a big follower or fan of what Charlie Hebdo did, but they were in their right to do so, they could criticize politics, religion or whatever … anyway those religious fanatics would have found any other way or means to express their frustration and crazy ideology.
    What is so wrong right now is that since 3 day we have everyday acts of terror here ( now 2 different places hostages being held by terrorists in pair or near Paris, world seems crazy) they want to install fear in us , it’s starting to work but shutting our ways to express our freedom of speech and thought , that is out of the question. thanks for your wonderful message

    • Thank you for stopping by and adding your comment to the conversation. This is certainly a hard week for French people. I share your opinion and concerns. I read Charlie Hebdo when I lived in France and like I said above, I didn’t always liked what they did. Howevever, freedom of speech and liberty of expression for all forms of art are necessary to a real free world. Creating fear is the goal of terrorists. France will always be on my mind, even after making my life here in the States. On such days, I am as French as can be, and I hope with all my heart that the people of France will be at peace soon. Best to you and your family and friends.

  12. Such a sad situation Evelyne – a message well said.

    • As an artist you know better than anyone the importance of being free to express your opinions, ideas with your brushes, pencils and crayons. That’s what these people did. With irreverence, yes, but they treated everyone and everything with equal humor, in order to provoke debate and change. Thank you, Mary, for being here.

  13. there comes a time when one must talk of politics and religion. I feel your outrage.

    • You’re right. As much as we would like a peaceful and happy world, we can’t ignore such events. Thank you, ballerina95.

    • I agree! We need more practice, and if we don’t at least try to talk about difficult subjects, how are we to get it? We won’t. We’ll just get more and more polarized. The solution is almost always to come back to personal experience, to speak in the first-person singular instead of making grand generalities based on incomplete information. It’s something I think we writers can do: put our ideas and experiences out there for others to consider.

  14. Excellent post, Evelyne. My heart aches following the news from Paris in these days. We’re lucky to live in countries that protect freedom of speech, and I’m heartened to see the outpouring of support in Paris and beyond after this tragedy.

  15. Evelyne, I’m glad you spoke out in this post, as writers we can feel particular solidarity and anger with those people hurt or murdered in the attack, but as humans, of course, we just feel the pain and want to honour it. Thinking of you and our friends across the channel.

  16. Glad you spoke up. My heart goes out to you and those in France.

  17. I was thinking about your post on my walk this afternoon, about what it might have been like to have had a long relationship with Charlie Hebdo, unlike most of us in the U.S., who heard of it for the first time last week. I imagined groups and publications and people that were important to me once but that I’ve grown away from. How would I feel if I learned today that something terrible had happened to them? Horror, shock, but maybe also a little guilt?

    The murders are inexcusable, but at the same time I can almost — as a writer who can imagine herself into all sorts of different characters — imagine the crazed nothing-to-lose fanaticism that might lead these young men to do this terrible thing. (I suspect they were being used by men more calculating and less hot-headed than they.) In part this is because as a woman, a lesbian, and a formerly fat person I’ve had plenty of experience with the brand of male humor that thinks it’s funny to ridicule people like me — people with less power than them.

    So I wonder how many women, and how many Muslims, Charlie Hebdo had among its staff members and contributors.

    I’m horrified by the murders. Of course I support freedom of speech — but at the same time I know that free speech is not free, and that those with privilege have more of it than those without. I would not have said “Je suis Charlie” before the murders, and I can’t bring myself to say it now. I’m listening to people who knew as little about Charlie as I did and much less about Islam, colonialism, and the Arab world shouting “Je suis Charlie” and what I hear is “Muslims are murderous terrorists who have nothing in common with us.” I’m listening to older, class-privileged white men who claim the right to say anything they please in the name of “free speech” even when it makes life unpleasant or even dangerous for those less fortunate than they.

    I don’t know what I can do about this, but I hope I can come up with something.

  18. Evelyne, I have been thinking of you these past days knowing how painful it must be for you to see the tragic events transpire in Paris. This will be a turning point for all who believe in freedom of speech and the power of the pen.

    • This kind of violence has no excuse, and since a magazine was first targeted, it triggered a visceral reaction. Freedom of speech is essential to our world. Yet, other people have died over these attacks. Policemen doing their jobs and Jewish people, also targeted. France is on my mind as the whole country is facing very seriousissues and the challenging job to find some answers to the profound distress of part of its population. Thank you, Claire, for stopping by and for your kind words.

  19. Je me décide enfin à laisser une trace de mon passage sur le blog du membre de ma tribu la plus lointaine !!Il faut dire que je ne maîtrise pas parfaitement l’anglais et c’est une tache difficile de s’attaquer à un article dans ces conditions !!J’en ai donc choisi un qui m’interpellait à cause de l’image bien sûr !!! et du sujet que je connais, hélas !
    La lecture de ton article et des commentaires est vraiment intéressante et me donne beaucoup à réfléchir …Comme il est bon et nécessaire et enrichissant d’aller voir et écouter ailleurs ! Quelle chance j’ai que tu sois venue jusqu’à moi !!! Merci ! Je t’embrasse

    • C’est le cadeau des blogs que de pouvoir communiquer sans se voir et pourtant en ayant le sentiment de se connaitre. Je suis contente que tu sois venue me rendre visite. Et sur un billet en anglais! J’ai choisi Mort de Rire parce que je me souviens encore de cette expression que mes copains et copines utilisaient autant que moi, expression née de Charlie Hebdo. Je suis consciente que ma vie ici et ma connaissance de l’histoire de mon pays natal, de sa culture et de sa langue me permettent d’analyser les événements avec un oeil différent. Les attaques contre la liberté d’expression sont à combattre. L’inclusion de l’autre est à gagner. Le chemin est long mais on y arrivera. Le temps fait son oeuvre. A plus tard, Kali.

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