Wednesday, February 22, 2006

 
Joe Sacco faces off with Art Speigelman over the Danish cartoon furor at The Nation

It's a sad day when a cartoonist like Sacco feels the need to advocate self-censorship as a means of placating extremists.

Will this controversy cause cartoonists and graphic artists to self-censor their work more frequently?

SACCO: No. I think maybe the idiot cartoonist should feel a need to be a little more self-censoring, when it comes down to it, but a thinking cartoonist weighs what he or she is doing. Frankly, I don't give a damn about these Danish cartoons. In the end, yes, there is a principle about the freedom of expression that concerns me, but I'm always sorry to have to rush to the defense of idiots.


A cooler head prevails in this case thanks to Speigelman (who knows what it means to be allowed to offend, as he offended much of the NYC establishment with his New Yorker cartoons on the Amidou Diala shooting years ago).

SPIEGELMAN: There has to be a right to insult. You can't always have polite discourse. Where I've had to do my soul-searching is articulating how I feel about the anti-Semitic cartoons that keep coming out of government-supported newspapers in Syria and beyond. And, basically, I am insulted. But so what? These visual insults are the symptom of the problem rather than the cause.

In 1897 politicians in New York State tried to make it a major offense to publish unflattering caricatures of politicians. They were part of a Tweed-like machine who didn't like insulting drawings published of themselves, so they spent months trying to get a bill passed and to make it punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

What happened?

SPIEGELMAN: It got killed. We have this thing called the First Amendment that was in better shape, maybe, then than now.



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