The attacks on the offices of the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo have produced great tragedy, they also, in the view of the Onion former editor Joe Randazzo show us why satire is so important to democracy.

From Randazzo’s new article:

Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity. Even in the most repressive medieval kingdoms, they understood the need for the court jester, the one soul allowed to tell the truth through laughter.

It is, in many ways, the most powerful form of free speech because it is aimed at those in power, or those whose ideas would spread hate. It is the canary in the coalmine, a cultural thermometer, and it always has to push, push, push the boundaries of society to see how much it’s grown.

As he points out in his article, if the attacks were fueled by religious extremism, then the work of Charlie Hebdo did its job.

“It so threatened its target, cut so deeply at the truth, that it [the target] resorted to the most cowardly, most offensive and despicable form of lashing out.

I highly recommend reading the article in full here.

Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.