Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cartoon Controversy Comment

Y’know as a cartoonist and a newly self-appointed commentator on current events, I feel it incumbent upon me to write something about the so-called “Cartoon Controversy” that has inspired demonstrations across the planet. Keep in mind that I have not seen the cartoons in question and am basing my ravings on what I’ve heard on TV and radio.

“I’ve got a cartoon & I’m not afraid to use it” declares the caption of Jeff Stahler’s Friday cartoon in the Columbus Dispatch.

As usual, Stahler’s undeservedly self-congratulatory cartoon misses the point. While I truly believe that editorial cartoons, when done right, can be a truly powerful medium, that isn’t what this is about.
While I consider myself a purist on free speech issues— when the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law…,” dammit, it means Congress shall make no freaking law—but each individual must occasionally ask himself if the fact that he can say something means that he should.
In this case, whatever point the cartoonist was trying to make has been lost in the controversy over the way he chose to make it. In editorial cartooning, the message is primary. The art, imagery and joke, if there is one, should all be in service to that message. If they obscure or overwhelm that message, then the cartoon is a failure, and by that accounting, these cartoons seem to have failed.

More on this issue from PBS' Newshour w/ Jim Lehrer:
Media Watch: CARTOON COVERAGE
SHIELDS AND BROOKS

2 comments:

Jack Bertram said...

I haven't seen the cartoons either, but it is hard to imagine that they deserved such a harsh reaction.

thebigcurve said...

I saw some of the cartoons, and I understand the difficulty that Muslims have with depictions of the prophet,(peace be upon him)
but I do not understand the urge that Muslims have to force their worldview and their morality and their ethical choices on people that are not Muslims.
I am a Christian, and I don't go around expecting non Christians to think or live or be like Christians.
It is utterly ridiculous to expect western governments and newspapers to act like Muslims.
And to blame the entire nation of Denmark for the actions of one newspaper editorial staff would be like blaming every Arab for the 9/11 attacks.