Cartoon Punch Down

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If somebody tells you you can’t draw something, the proper response of any self-respecting cartoonist is to draw that thing. Bosch Fawstin did exactly that and won first prize in the “Draw Mohammad” contest a week ago. In his cartoon a sword wielding Mohammad says, “You can’t draw me”, to which Fawstin responds, “That’s why I draw you.”

He also drew a response. Two heavily armed would be jihadis were gunned down by a cop with a pistol as they tried to turn “Draw Mohammad” into a “Charlie Hebdo” style massacre.

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau’s approach is different from the Fawstin way. He explained it in his acceptance speech for a Polk lifetime achievement award  last month. It’s the punching bag theory of cartooning. He says that satire must always punch up at the powerful and never punch down at the powerless.

Now they tell me. There are rules for satire.

I like Doonesbury but haven’t liked its politics ever since the entire cast cheered Nixon’s wage/price controls back in the early 70’s. But that’s no reason to not appreciate a good cartoon. Doonesbury has been like an ongoing play with well developed characters who grow over time. It’s witty too. Most of the time.

Steyn Punch Down

Mark Steyn, on the other hand, hates Trudeau’s guts. So I picked out some of the good stuff from his column A Contemptible Man Strikes Down:

“The Polk Award is named after a journalist shot dead at point-blank range in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war. So you might have thought it would be in ever so mildly bad taste to use the opportunity of a Polk acceptance speech to piss on the graves of a group of journalists similarly murdered. Nevertheless, that’s what Mr Trudeau did:

Charlie Hebdo, which always maintained it was attacking Islamic fanatics, not the general population, has succeeded in provoking many Muslims throughout France to make common cause with its most violent outliers. This is a bitter harvest.

Ah, so Charlie Hebdo is to blame for provoking ordinary, peaceful, moderate Muslims into supporting the Allahu Akbar guys who killed them.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

 






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One Response to Cartoon Punch Down

  1. Malc says:

    Trudeau’s satire is presently appearing daily in Australia in that fearless defender of the powerless, the Murdoch press. I wouldn’t mind at all, but it’s Doonesbury RE-runs, and apparently a regular revenue stream issues to Gary from a thirst for Trudeau’s liberal views from 1979.

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