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Cory ODonohue
Professor Bain-Conkin
Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric
25 February 2015
Free Iran: The Oppression of Free Speech
Stphane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, Bernard Maris, Bernard
Verlhac, Philippe Honore, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Frederic BoisseauRIP
nine victims of anti-free speech sentiment. After the atrocities on January 7th, 2015,
Charlie Hebdo became a worldwide icon of free speech overnight. Newspapers,
magazines, and pictures on television all portrayed civilized society united behind one
fundamental human rightfree speech.
Free Iran could easily be thrown into the same reams upon reams of images and
posters pertaining to the Charlie Hebdo incident. With a hand in the air raising a pencil, a
writing instrument becomes the center of attention. Green pops out, separating the
pencil from the foreground and background. In fact, green and orangethe color of the
flamesare contrary colors on the color wheel. This fact enriches the authors artistry
and enhances his argument. Without the coloring or centering of the pencil, the posters
message could easily be overshadowed or even overlooked. However, the mouth leads
the eyes to the pencil, while the arm provides a linear projection and visual pathway to
the utensil. Through the tactful placement and orientation of objects and colors, the
viewer cannot ignore the pencil.
The pencil is a writing implement is a symbol of free speech since it is a tool to
publish scholarly and opinionated work. The artist believes God provides free speech to
all of His subjects. The pencil is flaunted in the air as though it is presented to the
heavens. The placement of the pencil in the air provides a sense of worship, and this

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action causes the subject of the poster to be asking God for free speech; however, for the
time being, the Iranian government shuts down this freedom. Iran censors what is
published and peoples opposing views of the regime. The posters artists clearly
advocates for the right to free speech in Iran. At the same time, the artist intentionally
excludes the pencils eraser. She does not want peoples words to be retracted; if
threatened by the Iranian government, one should not and cannot erase any options,
arguments, or beliefs that have already bean published.
Instead of an eraser, the pencils wood burns, which comes of little surprise in
response to the exorbitant amount of ideas Iranian law condemns. The fiery red, orange,
and yellow colors burn in a raging swarm of heat. Despite this attempt of Iranian law to
crush any challenging speech, the pencil remains sharp, the voice of the people still loud
and clear. The oppression has not limited societys ability to write; these acts, however,
will not come without further punishment, more flames and heat.
The fight of free speech is expressed through the subjects face. The open mouth
illustrated in the poster provides multiple meanings in the larger context of free speech.
The mouth demonstrates the agony of the inability to express oneself. As
aforementioned, the raging fire is burning the pencil, a symbol of free speech. The face
portrays the unbearable pain of censored speech through both repercussions of antiIranian sentiment and emotional pain of not expressing ones ideas. Ramifications of free
speech sometimes cost people their lives, as was the case in the Charlie Hebdo incident.
In other instances, the emotional distress of withholding ones ideas could be debilitating.
After numerous threats against the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, the artists continued to

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produce cartoons. For them, the emotional agony of living without a voice ultimately
caused physical paindeath and destruction.
An extension of the mouth, the subjects arm connects the pencil to the mouth.
The joining of the writing utensil and the anatomical part for speech allows the artist to
convey that freedom of writing and freedom of oration are synonymous. In a way, the
arm is the bond holding the two together. Through this, the artist argues that free speech
is won through arms and fighting. People cannot be wait and expect to receive rights;
they must protest and garner enough support to force the government of Iran to become a
more democratic, free society. Another route to freedom according to the artist involves
being passive aggressive. Prose can have a major impact in the hearts of others. One can
utilize a pencil to evoke ethos, pathos, and logos and hope for change. Together with
physical resistance can prompt change in Iran.
The issue of free speech is an important right to those in Iran who are subjected to
this oppression. The arm is gripping the pencil tightly, revealing the persons veins. This
action connotes a sense of passion for and devotion towards free speech. The hand firmly
grips the pencil, not letting it go easily if an enemy, in this case Irans government,
attempts to steal the pencil. Iranian citizens will not allow the government to eradicate
their innate human rights.
Central to the cause of the poster are two words: Free Iran. Two words
summarize the poster and artists feelings towards the situation in Iran. Although the
poster focuses on one country, the message extends throughout the world. French Islamic
extremists executed the Charlie Hebdo catastrophe. Despite the fact that the attackers
were not from Iran, many other Islamic extremists reside in Iran. No matter where they

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live, Islamic extremists attempt to eliminate all basic right from the world including the
right to free speech. Therefore, the Free Iran slogan on the poster extends to all Islamic
extremists and the states where they have a stronghold.
The artist clearly has an audience in mind when creating the poster. Free Iran is
not in Persian, Irans official language. Since the poster includes English, the audience
clearly is Americans or their allies. America is known as The Land of the Free. The
slogan Free Iran elicits ethos from the audience; Americans value freedom and the
artist wishes that Americans realize that the citizens of Iran are in a battle for their own
rights. Through the poster, Americans are meant to empathize with Iranians and join the
fight, which can come in the form of monetary or military support. Iran is doing their
best to grip onto their free speech, the pencil, but they need extra assistance to overcome
the fire set by Irans government.
Gunshots! Death! Terror! The results of oppressive speech can be disastrous as
evidenced by the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. Many regimes including ISIS, Al-Queda, and
other groups in the Middle East suppress nearly all forms of speech. The locals in the
Iran, and the Middle East in general, need help. They cannot successfully fight with their
lack of resources while extremists control their country. The artist of the Free Speech
poster wants America to help in any way possible. Iranians need the ability to speak
openly about their opinions. Iranians need to be free.