1: a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2: a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle
The word “martyr” has been hijacked. It should be a noble, reverent word, used to describe a supremely honorable person who knowingly sacrificed his or her life for an idea. Ideas like freedom from oppression, freedom of religion, civil rights, freedom of speech.
A man who threatens the life of a little girl to gain access to a building, massacres unarmed people with an automatic rifle and runs away is not a martyr.
Martyrs inspire us, with their courage and their cause. Their work continues after their death because of it. They make us want to be brave, like them.
A man who executes a wounded, fallen police officer at point-blank range, who posed no threat, is not brave.
Martyrs are, by definition and above all, people of principle. They care more for their work than for their own lives.
A man who hides behind innocent hostages to try to prevent the police from hurting him, who is willing to sacrifice their lives in place of his own, not knowing anything about them, is not a man of principle.
Two shooters responsible for the Charlie Hebdo massacre were killed yesterday, shot by police. They weren’t killed because of their beliefs. They weren’t killed because they were too vocal in their opposition to an oppressive regime, and they didn’t offer up their lives on behalf of a persecuted minority.
They were shot by police because they brutally murdered twelve people, were still armed, had taken hostages, and still posed a serious threat.
If you hear any second-hand ravings on the news, by members of ISIS or Al-Qaeda who praise the murderers as “martyrs,” try to tune out the bullshit and remember what that word really means.
The real martyrs were left on the floor of the Charlie Hebdo offices.