Cartoons reflect the public debate; an international community of cartoonists will therefore frequently reflect the different perspectives that are present in the global public debate, including the more extreme ones. In some cases, we will try to present and publish these varying perspectives. In other cases, we will make the editorial choice to focus on one perspective, ignoring others.
On such example is the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar in 2017. While the overwhelming majority of our cartoonists chose to call out the atrocities committed by the Myanmar army, our contingent of cartoonists from Myanmar defended their government and army, stating that the accusations of genocide were fake news. In light of the evidence, we chose not to highlight these perspectives. That doesn’t mean these cartoons are censored; it simply means we will not publish them on our homepage or post them on our social media channels.
We have made the same editorial decision for cartoons that speak out against vaccination. In light of the evidence about the effectiveness of the vaccination, we will not publish cartoons that ignore this evidence and feed into the various conspiracy theories out there about the supposedly nefarious intentions of researchers and governments alike. We do show a couple of them here, to illustrate our decision. If you want to see how most cartoonists think about the vaccine and the anti-vax movement, check our collections here and here.
With all editorial decisions, there will be grey areas. Not publishing anti-vax cartoons is a clear-cut decision, but what about cartoons about the position and rights of the unvaccinated in society? For instance, Swaha takes a more nuanced approach with her cartoon questioning the French Covid passport as a way to return to a free society.
A citizen in a free society is only free to the extent that his or her freedom doesn't harm the freedom of others; the problem with unvaccinated is that they consciously make a decision that is potentially harmful for the rest of society. On the other hand, one could argue that no state should have the power to coerce people to inject something into their body, and that granting privileges to one group over the other is coercion of a sort.
We will not change our editorial stance on the anti-vax movement (barring new scientific evidence), but we will closely be looking at the way societies and governments deal with the unvaccinated, and the cartoons that are made about this.
Cartoon Movement editor
P.S. This editorial has been edited slightly on August 9 after receiving feedback from SWAHA, to better reflect the intention of her cartoon.