Drawing lines

Freedom of humor and satire is an essential component of democratic life; but at the same time, some forms of humor can be a vehicle for hateful or anti-democratic messages. How can we draw a line between free speech and hate speech, when it comes to humor? Answering these questions is particularly difficult in the case of highly condensed (and often ambiguous) forms of visual humor, such as cartoons or memes.

On 21 September 2020, the members of the Constructive Advanced Thinking team Cartoons in Court presented the project they will be working on during the next three years at four European Institutes for Advanced Study. The project focuses on visual humor controversies from an interdisciplinary perspective, with special but not exclusive regard to cartoons. The event featured a general introduction and five short presentations by the team members, followed by an open Q&A.

Speakers: Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen, PI); Vicky Breemen (Utrecht University); Andrew Bricker (Ghent University); Ana Pedrazzini (ECyC IPEHCS CONICET – Comahue National University); Tjeerd Royaards (Cartoon Movement).

Host: Andrey Demidov (scientific coordinator of IAS CEU Budapest)

The project is supported by the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) program, an initiative by the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study (NetIAS). IAS CEU is a host institution for the 'Cartoons in Court' team. The online event was co-sponsored by Cartoon Movement.


Courage in Cartooning Award 2020

Kishore-slide-a-scaled

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) presents their annual Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award to Ahmed Kabir Kishore from Bangladesh.

Ahmed is a cartoonist and activist known to CRNI for over a decade. He campaigned bravely on behalf of the disappeared Sri Lankan cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda (2010) and jailed Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman (2007) and identified as a CRNI “affiliate leader” in the country, although doing so inevitably led to accusations of aligning with foreign interests. This speaks to his courage, as do his public demonstrations for the human rights not only of cartoonists but also Hijra people and in defence of health and consumer rights and the Bengali language.

Through April and into May of this year Ahmed posted to Facebook a series of cartoons he entitled Life in the Time of Corona, satirising society’s response and critical of the government’s handling of public health during the pandemic.

On May 5th 2020 Ahmed was among several people arrested under the Digital Security Act, 2018 (DSA) by personnel from the Dhaka division of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB-3), the unit officially deployed against terrorists, drug lords and human traffickers but often accused of being an instrument of government suppression. In the ensuing months of detention Ahmed has been denied a bail hearing on three occasions.

Read more on the website of CRNI.


What a cartoon can do

4. Gargantua by Honoré_Daumier

Gargantua by Honoré Daumier (1831)

CM’s editor Tjeerd Royaards writes about the power of satire for 5. The way cartoons are perceived, feared and responded to by leaders, especially those less inclined towards democracy, hasn't changed in the past 200 years. Dictators try to silence satire only because they know it's effective, because they fear it. That's the best reason to keep laughing at them.

Read the full article here.


Drawing lines: humor, free speech and hate speech

Tnt_pencil__marian_kamenskyImage by Marian Kamensky

Online event - 21 September 2020, 15:00-16:30 (CEST Time)

Freedom of humor and satire is an essential component of democratic life; but at the same time, some forms of humor can be a vehicle for hateful or anti-democratic messages. How can we draw a line between free speech and hate speech, when it comes to humor? Answering these questions is particularly difficult in the case of highly condensed (and often ambiguous) forms of visual humor, such as cartoons or memes.

On September 21st, the members of the Constructive Advanced Thinking team ‘Cartoons in Court’ will present their project and discuss humor controversies from an interdisciplinary perspective, with special but not exclusive regard to cartoons. The event will start with a presentation by the team members, followed by an open Q&A.

Speakers: Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen, PI); Vicky Breemen (Utrecht University); Andrew Bricker (Ghent University); Ana Pedrazzini (ECyC IPEHCS CONICET – Comahue National University); Tjeerd Royaards (Cartoon Movement).

Host: Andrey Demidov (IAS CEU Budapest)

The ZOOM link to the event: here

The project is supported by the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) program, an initiative by the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study (NetIAS). IAS CEU is a host institution for the team 'Cartoons in Court'. The online event is co-sponsored by Cartoon Movement.


Newletter 8, August 2020

New_news__osvaldo_gutierrez_gomezCartoon by OSVAL

We are back with your monthly dose of cartooning news; read our August newsletter here. August is typically our most quiet month of the year, but September is ramping up to be a lot busier. In the meantime, we do have some new cartoonists to introduce and a save-the-date for an online event about cartoons. We also ask your support for Emad Hajjaj, who was arrested (and now released on bail) in Jordan last week over a cartoon.

If you want to receive a monthly update from the world of international editorial cartooning, subscribe!


Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj arrested

Costantini

Image by Gianluca Costantini

This report is taken from Cartooning for Peace:

Renowned Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj was arrested by the Jordanian authorities for a cartoon related to the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, published by Al Araby and subsequently posted on the artist’s website and social networks. The publication on social networks has since disappeared.

Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 17.56.02Screenshot from AlAraby, where the cartoon is published. The text in the cartoon reads: 'Israel asks the United States not to sell F35 to the United Arab Emirates'

According to Nidal Mansour, head of the Jordanian Center for the Protection and Freedom of Journalists, the cartoonist was arrested for obstructing the Jordanian Information Systems and Cybercrime Law of 2015. An arrest that Emad Hajjaj’s brother, Osama Hajjaj, a cartoonist himself, confirmed. According to Reporters Without Borders, the publications of online newspapers or those of citizen journalists on social networks are punishable by prison sentences and lead to pre-trial detention in case of prosecution under this law. The cartoonist was taken to a court this morning to be heard.

We join Cartooning for Peace in calling for his immediate release. No artist can be arrested for the realization of a cartoon.


Locked in Kashmir

Kashmir

CRNI has posted a comics journalism piece by cartoonist Suhail Naqshbandi to mark the first anniversary of the repeal of Article 370, India’s suspension of the Jammu & Kashmir region’s autonomous status and the subsequent degradation of civil liberty, including one of the world’s longest internet shutdowns.

We recommend you read this essay by Suhail first, describing his experiences prior to the repeal of Article 370. The you can read the full comic here.


Bolsonaro in 10 cartoons

This week, Bolsonaro’s Justice Ministry asked the Federal Police and prosecutors to investigate cartoonist Renato Aroeira, because of a cartoon depicting Bolsonaro using a paintbrush to transform a red cross into a swastika.

Cartoonists in Brazil and other countries have made cartoons in solidarity with Aroeira. To show our solidarity, we have collected 10 of our favorite Bolsonaro cartoons here, showing his lack of regard for environment, his misguided approach to the coronavirus and his general incompetence.

 

Carmelo Kalashnikov - Italy

Bolsonaro_style__carmelo_kalashnikov

After the rainforest, Bolsonaro is now cutting down pencils, it seems.

 

Antonio Rodriguez - Mexico

Foul_play__antonio__rodrguez

Cartoonists are often a target of authoritarian leaders...

 

Rice Araujo - Brazil

Hiding_genocidal_incompetence__rice_araujo

...because they expose their shortcomings in one visual. In the case of Bolsonaro, he has been trying very hard to hide the true death toll of the coronavirus in Brazil.

 

Amorim - Brazil

Brasil_records___amorim

Although he might just be trying to set a world record.

 

Anne Derenne - Spain

Deforestation_of_the_amazon_under_bolsonaro__anne_derenne

Of course, would-be dictators do not like to be compared...

 

Luc Descheemaeker - Belgium

Far_right_populism_rises_in_brazil2019s_presidential_elect__luc_descheemaeker

....to other famous examples from history...

 

Olivier Ploux - France

Bolsonaro_is_a_dangerous_jester__olivier_ploux

...or other...

 

Rice Araujo - Brazil

Bolsonaro_terminator__alex_falc_chang

...pop culture references.

 

Faditoon - Norway

Bolsonaro___fadi__abou_hassan_faditoon

Also, they don't like it when their mental capacity is questioned.

 

Vilma Vargas - Venezuela

Darkness_and_regression__vilma_vargas

Vilma Vargas summaries the Bolsonaro presidency as 'darkness and regression', in stead of the 'order and progress' featured on the Brazilian flag.


Coronavirus pandemic heralds renewed threat to cartoonists

Freedom_of_expression___ahmad_rahmaImage by Ahmad Rahma

Cartoon Movement, Cartoonists Rights Network International and Cartooning For Peace warn that amid 2020's pandemic the global community of cartoonists could be irrevocably damaged. Economic depression will lead to losses but far worse is deliberate action repressing free expression.

Logos

Cartoon Movement, Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Rights Network International appeal for aid.

Fears of extreme difficulty ahead for cartoonists as the coronavirus pandemic worsens existing trends toward authoritarianism, censorship and intolerance.

Cartoon Movement, Cartooning For Peace and Cartoonists Rights Network International welcome last week’s statement made by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, European Federation of Journalists and the Media Freedom Rapid Response consortium calling attention to problems faced by cartoonists in Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, The Netherlands, Sweden and elsewhere.

In particular we object in the strongest possible terms to both:
- interventions from ambassadors and other top-level national and international representatives calling for the dismissal or censure of cartoonists
- and mass targeting of cartoonists via social media, apparently encouraged if not actively organised by bad actors

On at least two recent occasions such public over-reactions have led directly to death threats against the cartoonists in question. It is a scant five years since the attacks at Charlie Hebdo; death threats against cartoonists are still regarded with the utmost seriousness by police forces across Europe and lead to great levels of distress for those so threatened as well as their families.

But this report from within the EU covers only part of the picture. In the last two months we have also seen cartoonists arrested, threatened, subjected to cyber attack or court action originating in Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Palestine, Peru and Uganda (see list below). And these are only the incidents that we can safely acknowledge. There is more; CRNI says that from late March through early May there have been twice over the usual number of incidents reported. This spike in cartoonists experiencing violations of their human right to free expression comes at the same time as the economic downturn. The vast majority of editorial cartoonists are self-employed and while some nations have extended relief in the form of grants to that sector, most have prioritised helping businesses and other organisations with payroll for employees. Even among the minority of cartoonists who have a relationship with a news media outlet, we've heard many describe being furloughed, dismissed entirely or warned by editors of rapidly diminishing revenue. The inevitable consequence will be a reduction in the numbers of cartoonists pursuing their careers.

We do not suggest that cartoonists are uniquely or especially troubled during this crisis. Journalists, commentators and artists of every description are encountering a newly hostile and difficult working environment; we note that Index on Censorship’s tracker has over one hundred and fifty incidents related directly to coverage of COVID-19 over the same period.

However we do recognise – through long experience in the matter – that cartoonists are often among the first to feel the effects of such a crisis, to the worst extent and yet can be overlooked thereafter. Not every incident we have seen since the start of 2020 can be explicitly linked to the health crisis. But we cannot escape the reality that an already bad situation can only be worsened by coronavirus, as new laws and emergency measures have an accumulative effect in favour of the forces of repression.

In their special collaboration with Courrier International last December, Cartooning For Peace described 2019 as “une année noire”. Every phenomenon mentioned: the notable emergence of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism in all regions; dwindling opportunities as news media dispense with cartoonists, citing falling revenue; and the deleterious effect of social media on the public’s sensitivity to “offensive” material will be exacerbated in the wake of COVID-19. If 2019 was “black”, 2020 could prove to be an utter void.

Terry Anderson, Executive Director of CRNI said: “In a recent poll our regional representative cartoonists cited criminalisation as their top anxiety. The current global crisis is has emboldened regimes that seek to censor dissenting or contrarian voices. We’re seeing it in Bangladesh with the arrest of Ahmed Kabir Kishore and others, whose open scepticism about the measures taken there is being spun as dangerous misinformation."

“We need to be very careful we’re not sidelined in the effort against ‘fake news’”, adds Cartoon Movement’s Editor-In-Chief, Tjeerd Royaards. “Who arbitrates between a sarcastic comment and a deliberate lie? We know that colleagues in Bolivia are anxious about Supreme Decree 4231, in Morocco there are worries following Law 22-20 and in France likewise after the adoption of Loi Avia. In so many places local press is already heavily censored and now social media is going the same way.”

All three organisations acknowledge the vital link to audiences that social media provides to cartoonists in nations without a free press. As changes are made by companies and in particular Facebook to address issues of public trust in their platforms, we call upon them to recognise the special status of satirical content. Cartoonists do not make flat, factual statements: they caricature, exaggerate, distil and distort, but all in pursuit of truths deeper than mere headlines can convey. They must remain at liberty to do so.

In the worst case scenario 2020 could see the global community of cartoonists irrevocably damaged. In part the circumstances are unavoidable; the economic depression will lead to the loss of many, and we have seen that attrition is already underway. But far worse, deliberate repressive action will silence yet more.

Cartooning for Peace often remind us that cartoonists are democracy barometers, as the threats they face indicate broader movements of repression that consequently affect society as a whole. As such there is a renewed urgency behind their reiterated call for solidarity and protection.

Ultimately we prefer to sound an alarm and risk being perceived as doomsayers rather than wait until a sudden surge solidifies into a trend.

We call on all governments to remember their obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially article 19, and ask that careful consideration be given to 2019’s Addis Ababa declaration for the recognition of cartooning as a fundamental right

We make most urgent appeal to anyone who has ever considered assisting in our shared mission; now is the moment, so please take action in support of cartoonists.

Download the statement here in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

 

Cases of note:

 

MARCH

AUSTRALIA – dissident Chinese cartoonist Badiucao receives death threats via social media on a continuous basis, but intensified while he reported on events in China and in particular his illustrated “Wuhan diary”.

GAZA STRIP – cartoonist Ismael el-Bozom detained by Hamas personnel, spat upon, interrogated.

 

APRIL

BOLIVIA – cartoonist Abecor receives death threats via Facebook.

IRAN – cartoons posted on social media leads to arrest of journalists.

PERU – cartoonist Carlín receives death threats over cartoon on first anniversary of former president’s suicide.

SWEDEN – Palestinian cartoonist Mahmoud Abbas subjected to mass trolling, death threats from Twitter users in Saudi Arabia.

UGANDA – cartoonist Jimmy Spire Ssentongo among those prevented from leaving coronavirus quarantine despite negative testing, resorts to hunger strike.

 

MAY

BANGLADESH – cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore among multiple arrests under Digital Security Act, denied bail.

HUNGARY – cartoonist Gábor Pápai accused of blasphemy and sued by ruling KDNP. 

USA – cartoonist and syndicate operator Daryl Cagle writes to his congressional representative warning of collapse in industry and regression in press freedom.

SPAIN – cartoonist Miguel Villalba Sánchez’s Facebook page is summarily deleted, prevented from signing in again under his own name; cites fact-checkers under contract to Spanish government.

JORDAN – cartoonist Rafat Alkhateeb pressured to remove caricature of Prime Minister Al-Razzaz from Facebook.

 


China Delegation Objects to Cartoon at THIMUN

In January, we had a small exhibition at THIMUN (The Hague International Model United Nations), a gathering of 3,500 secondary school students from all over the world at the World Forum in The Hague to think and talk about the world’s problems.

Photo-compilation

This year's exhibition theme was 'Advancing and Securing Democracy'. One of the cartoons featured was a 2014 cartoon by Tjeerd Royaards about freedom in China.

Hong_kong_protests__tjeerd_royaards

The delegation from China wasn't happy with this cartoon and wrote an official complaint letter. How much of this is at the initiative of (indoctrinated) students and how much is enforced by teachers and/or the Chinese embassy (which is practically next to the World Forum) is unclear, but to state China is a democracy that 'respects and defends freedom of speech', while accusing the cartoonist of not portraying the truth sounds, to us, like a statement of 1984's Ministry of Truth.

Quote 2

Read the complete letter here.