These “Others” Who “Are Not Charlie”: A Slogan to Unity, a Rhetoric of Exclusion?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Frederic MOULENE, Universite de Strasbourg, France
On 7 January 2015, the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were hit by a terrorist attack in which 8 members of the editorial were murdered. Just one hour after the tragedy, an art director created the slogan “I am Charlie” that was immediately adopted by a growing mass of supporters of the paper and largely spread on social networks. The next week-end, four million people joined street demonstrations with the slogan on their placards. It became a symbol of defense for freedom of expression and resistance against terrorism. But if the slogan was effective so as to bring people together, there was not a complete consensus. Some “others” refused to join this movement. On January 15, the well-respected daily newspaper Le Monde dedicated an article to “those who are not Charlie”: this group of people was described as “horrified by the attempt (but) do not recognize themselves in the sacred union of a France in communion with the slogan”. Our aim is to investigate how language has been used to identify the “others” as “not Charlie” knowing that the pro-Charlie movement had the best reason to consider itself as “natural”, “obvious” as sure as the event was terrible and indefensible. We would like to analyze the labeling process in this special case, knowing that it was difficult to reject this incomplete unanimity without being seen as “pro-Terror”. How did “others” react when they were “in the hot seat”, required to justify themselves? Their silence could be interpreted as an admission of guilt but as well their arguments were under the pressure of the majority. In such a perspective, we will review the origin of the classification between “we”/”others” on the intersection of sociological and linguistics issues.  Our conclusions will concern the performativity of this kind of categorization