Satirical cartoons – where should the line be drawn?

Joe Sacco: On Satire – a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks

The acclaimed graphic artist and journalist Joe Sacco on the limits of satire – and what it means if Muslims don’t find it funny

In fact when we draw a line, we are often crossing one too. Because lines on paper are a weapon, and satire is meant to cut to the bone. But whose bone? What exactly is the target?

And why?”

For that is going to be far easier than sorting out how we fit in each other’s world.

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  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  10th January 2015

    I don’t think that added anything to the issue. The only person who can decide.where the line should be drawn is the author moderated by the reader.

    Actually the Paris atrocities had little if anything to do with satire. That was merely a handy peg to hang the assassins’ target on. If it hadn’t been the cartoonists it would have been someone else as the attack on the Jewish shop immediately demonstrates.

    So this cartoon completely misses the point.

  2. Kittycatkin

     /  10th January 2015

    I see no reason for gratuitously offensive images of any kind. The Charlie cartoons were serving no purpose-these were not journalists going about their business-and to me, this type of freedom of expression is simply not worth defending,.Do it at your own risk. I wouldn’t bother to defend the Madonna in a condom .One could say that the menu that made remarks about Julia Gillard’s vagina, pubic hair and breasts was ‘freedom of expression’. One could say it of the writings of the Nazis and their cartoons. Would anyone see the Nazi cartoons of Jews as legitimate freedom of expression ? Would anyone see a cartoon of a black man being lynched as something that those who don’t like it should just get over ?

    Not being gratuitously offensive and tasteless is not caving in. It’s hard for me to see why anyone would think that this was worth defending.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  10th January 2015

      I can see it is hard for you but consider the alternative: censorship by bureaucrats controlled by politicians in a democracy or by the ruling elite elsewhere.

      Now can you see why it must be defended as a right though the content can be condemned? The proper answer to bad ideas is not censorship but more free speech in reply. That said, those who incite others to commit crimes are themselves guilty of criminal acts.

    • To be sure Charlie Hedbo was gratuitous.
      But did any Jews or Catholics massacre the cartoonists?

      And who defines what is gratuitous? In the 1950s most people thought rock music was offensive. People who have previously been considered to be gratuitously offensive include some of the greatest artists and thinkers.

      If something is gratuitous, then that is precisely why it should be defended.

  3. There are no lines, because lines restrict freedom. Its all about the right context and right timing.

  4. artcroft

     /  10th January 2015

    If I understand this cartoonist accurately he’s saying “I have the right to draw images of mohammad but chose not to”. Fair enough, but in relinquishing that right, what comes next? Will the new status quo become codified in law? “No one may draw a depiction of mohammad” in France or NZ or wherever? What step comes after that? Muslims may only be tried under sharia law?

  5. FarmerPete

     /  10th January 2015

    …and what if Muslims don’t find it funny? The point is no one who is satirised finds it funny. I was brought up a catholic and I was deeply offended by TePapa, but I didn’t rush out and buy an Uzi to lay waste to the place. A civilised and free society allows political satire and free speech. I don’t particularly like extreme satire, as it is not my thing, but I can see why people need too be free to engage in it.
    I found Sacco’s comic strip to be a frivolous and vapid piece of work. I don’t think we should even be having the discussion about whether the satire was ‘reasonable or offensive’ at the moment. For heavens sake 16-20 people were killed and a significant group were not involved in any way in offending anyone, but that doesn’t matter to these misbegotten, rabid dogs. Sorry, but with every outrage my attitude is hardening. Time for the Muslim community to step up and tell the rest of us that they have no part in this. Until this happens my tolerance is going to be stretched pretty thin.
    Pete, how are you feeling about Greg Presland’s piece now?

  6. @FarmerPete. You are right. The general and wider Muslim Community have been far too silent and mute, when it comes to speaking out against the horrific atrocities carried out by terrorist extremists in the name of Muhammed. If crazy people were pretending to be Christians, and totally innocent human beings were slaughtered in the name of Jesus, I could not possibly stay silent and not speak out against it.

  7. Brown

     /  11th January 2015

    Goldie, what they are meant to do is mean what they say. Lying to you is the cultural norm for Muslims. At 1% they will say whatever it takes to appear to be intergrated. At 5% you hear what they really think.


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