Madam & Eve by Stephen Francis and Rico Schachergl
The article at Media Update quotes cartoonists Jonathan Shapiro aka Zapiro, writing at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack, as well as David Jenkins and Rico Schachergl:
“In speaking truth to power, [cartoonists] often find common ground with audiences across political persuasions. In instances where cartoonists take a stand on an issue where their readers might disagree with them, their cartoons act as excellent catalysts for discussion and debate.”
“History demonstrates that cartoonists should be made aware of how the power of their medium could advance racism and other forms of bigotry. However, there are also opportunists who seize every opportunity to cry ‘racism’ or ‘bigotry’ where there is none, in the hope of quieting the cartoonists’ pen.”
The advent of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill in South Africa comes at the same time as Turkey has used insults against religious faith and persons within government as a pretext to close down satirical publications and arrest opposition journalists and cartoonists.
Meanwhile the existing anti-hate speech statute in Australia has become a bête noire of the right, who say clause 18C of the The Racial Discrimination Act is too easily used to stifle free speech. The cartoons of Bill Leak have been regarded by many as a test case. However it’s worth remembering that the very next clause of the same law protects artists and 18C itself does not create a criminal offence. In other words, it’s impossible to be sent to jail in Australia over a cartoon.
Last year we reported on Ted Rall’s law suit against his former employer the Los Angeles Times. Pre-trial proceedings begin at the end of the month, according to Rall’s syndicated column. The cartoonists seeks damages for “defamation, wrongful termination, blacklisting” and other charges. The circumstances that led to Rall’s dismissal are complex; the whole story is laid out in detail on his GoFundMe page which he has used to raise cash for his legal expenses. Many cartoonists in the States will watch what ensues with interest, considering it a timely test of the First Amendment.
Any democracy that embraces restriction of the press in reponse to turbulent times risks slipping into authoritarianism. As ever cartoonists are canaries in the coal mine and South Africa’s canaries, among others, are disquieted.