Overused, Confused, Abused: Je Suis Charlie

Has the true value of “Je suis Charlie” become lost in its ubiquitous power?

Last week, Top Gear’s host Jeremy Clarkson was suspended from the BBC programme due to the alleged reports of his “fracas” with the producer of the show.

Since then, social media has carried the news of his suspension and the temporary postponement of the series. Such hashtags have been used as “#BringBackClarkson” through posts and tweets in an attempt to reinstate the 54 year-old.

One particular hashtag created by Clarkson’s supporters was designed as a twist on “Je suis Charlie”, converted to “#JesuisJeremy”.

This expression following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January has caused much controversy amongst the public, whether Top Gear fanatics or not.

Is comparing the suspension of a millionaire TV presenter to a terrorist attack a justifiable judgement?

Students at Tonbridge Grammar School have expressed their views on the subject. Anna, 13, says “The Je suis Charlie campaign is all about freedom of speech; it is not really a fair comparison against Jeremy Clarkson’s episode… therefore it is not right and just. We should respect the campaign.”

Natasha, also 13, argued that “it’s alright to give a campaign to want Jeremy Clarkson back, but in the form of #JesuisJeremy, it’s just stupid and offensive, because it is not regarding the view of the victims’ relatives.”

Another similar example of the statement becoming diluted in power was shown earlier this week, when the singer Elton John declared his shock at the fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana’s comment against IVF children, which called them “synthetic”. In response, the couple used the term “#JesuisD&G” to defend their view.

The Charlie Hebdo attack was a national tragedy, and the cause of twelve deaths at the headquarters of the satirical magazine. By using the phrase “Je suis Charlie”, people have demonstrated their support of the victims of the attack and those affected, and not only for the magazine, but also to defend the right to free speech which has been threatened by this incident.

In my opinion, by using examples like the Jeremy Clarkson and Dolce & Gabbana cases in association with the Charlie Hebdo attack, we have almost lost of the meaning of the campaign as a consequence of the phrase’s misinterpretations and overuse. By supporting the right to free speech,