The world watched in horror last Wednesday as radical jihadists launched a deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper published in France. Twelve people were killed, but millions of French citizens marched in support of freedom of speech just days later in Paris.
Untold amounts of ink and web space have already been devoted to the motivations behind the attack, the western world's response to this unexpected assault on freedom of expression, and the very rude awakening Europe suffered as a result of this appalling terrorist act.
However, there is one question that remains unanswered: what now?
Journalism - regardless of which form it takes shape in - is not an easy business. There is a constant threat of lawsuits, negative comments from readers and politicians unhappy with your reporting, and pressures to report the news as fast as possible while remaining accurate.
But never before, until last Wednesday at least, was the possibility of being the target of a coordinated terrorist attack ever on that list... And now that it is... What now?
I get that the circumstances surrounding Charlie Hebdo are special, due to the controversial nature of the publication, but if the media's ability to offend by means of cartoons has been placed on the "potentially hazardous to your health," list. Where will the slippery slope end?
That is a question I cannot answer, but it does deserve a follow up: as a society, western culture has long treasured the right of a free, impartial, and truth seeking press to serve as our collective fourth estate, however, what happens when that fourth estate becomes afraid to do its job?
Again, I do not have the answer to that very troubling question...
We live in uncertain times, as terrorism remains a threat to our daily existence and, in some cases, the very act of drawing a cartoon or taking a unpopular stance could draw that very real existence to your front door step.
That is a threat that many a good journalist is unable to tolerate, for fear of their personal well being or that of their family, or even that of their newspaper. However, the day that fear becomes the norm and the norm becomes an inability to offend, is the day we all lose this battle.