There will be a pOlitOOns year end review, don’t get me wrong, I’m still as jaded cynical and pessimistic as ever! But just before we go there, I’m passing on the word about some of the International political cartoonists who came up against it this year, brutally murdered, imprisoned, threatened, facing decades in jail or just being censored everyday. The artists who don’t necessarily make it on the front pages. Some – even most – of them you may not have heard of but if you want to find out more please visit the Cartoonists Rights website
We started out the year with the Charlie Hebdo massacre,but that is neither the beginning of these things nor the end. The Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman says
“Seen from the perspective of Latin America, the assault on Charlie Hebdo is both terrifying and familiar… over the last decade a slow massacre of journalists has been soiling, haunting, infecting Latin America, an almost invisible siege against press freedom. Not as dramatic or spectacular or on the fault-lines of Islam and the West as what happened with Charlie Hebdo, but nevertheless an assault that has been incessant and dreadful and methodical.” On a different note Arthur Matthews, one of the co writer of ‘Father Ted’ wrote in the Index of Censorship’s Issue “Charlie Hebdo: The Global View”. He talked about drawing cartoons for the New Musical Express in the early 1990’s: “The idea was to amuse the reader, not antagonize the object of the cartoon”.
POlitoons view is similar, caricature is about humour not antagonism. If anyhing political cartoong is often recyclable because the political world is a very repetitive place- we seldom learn from mistakes, and consequently most political cartoons don’t come with expiry dates.
It’s worth remembering that there is a serious side. Freedom of Expression takes a battering everywhere, freedoms and human rights are only real if humans can exercise them in the first place. Lots of things like laws snd rights look good on paper – just like cartoons for that matter!
Forms of censorship don’t just happen at the state level either. There is the undercurrent of trolling on the internet, for instance, there are many places and cultures where the law says one thing in words but not necessarily on the street. There is much un-coded reality to pick at. In p the end tyranny loves a good silence, it sees it as a step on the road to success.
The wire-men broke his hands
and in the years before he drew again,
his healed bones imagined once invisible
guns and time in sections
behind the captor’s masks
discarded on the road to Damascus
Along the humming wire
justified text and censored illuminations
hid those men reflecting everyday on screens
angled light and shade contrasting the far away hours
The rolling pen moves on and smoothly traces
the sweetness of drying ink and drier tears
hardening hands to their task like tempered steel
the itch, the scratch, the page, the unbroken art
ho ho ho!
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