Sunday, February 12, 2006

Gary Trudeau on the Danish cartoons

Gary Trudeau, the cartoonist of Doonesbury, responds to a question - Why has the U.S. news media (broadcast and print), almost universally refused to publish the cartoons? - from the San Francisco Chronicle:

"I assume because they believe, correctly, it is unnecessarily inflammatory. It's legal to run them, but is it wise? The Danish editor who started all this actually recruited cartoonists to draw offensive cartoons (some of those he invited declined). And why did he do it? To demonstrate that in a Western liberal society he could. Well, we already knew that. Some victory for freedom of expression. An editor who deliberately sets out to provoke or hurt people because he's worried about 'self-censorship' is not an editor I'd care to work for."

Of course, since the self-censorship excuse is so ridiculous (it is as if Denmark got freedom of speech just last week and the editor wanted to show off his new freedom), we know there must have been a much darker motive. American cartoonists who have discussed the Danish cartoon issue have almost universally supported publication, perhaps reflecting their ongoing fights with editors which they endure in order to have their cartoons published (and reinforcing the idea that cartoonists aren't that smart, but are just doodlers with an attitude). There is much more censorship out there than we hear about, and the main censorship is that the most interesting cartoonists never get published, or are only published in intentionally 'alternative' publications. Trudeau, who I've attacked for his nasty attack on bloggers (he's since covered blogging again and done a much better job with the tone, seemingly recovering his sense of humor), is the only American cartoonist who seems to understand the issue.