Bad times for humour

Bad times for humour
Cover of issue 1609 of the British magazine Private Eye from 20 October to 2 November.

"Warning. This magazine may contain some criticism of the Israel governnement and may suggest that killing everyone in Gaza as revenge for Hamas atrocities may not be a long-term solution to the problems of the region".

While bombs continue to fall on the heads of thousands of civilians in Palestine, other clashes are being waged here against the powerful propaganda machine of the State of Israel in its now desperate attempt to dominate what they call "the narrative".

Now that they are not hiding their intentions (they never did), they want the rest of the world to approve their disgusting justifications for a genocide we witness every day live from our armchairs. In the meantime, the international community lets them do as they please, and every now and then they release a soft communiqué to say that murdering like this is not right and it is not legal and so on.

Well, as you know, these "domestic" battles to govern the discourse have been transferred to all spheres and, of course, also to cartoons. We know all too well that these are bad times for humour. Or not, depending on how you look at it.

Death threats

The cartoonist of Private Eye, Zoom Rockman (2000), has announced that he will stop collaborating with the magazine after claiming to have received a death threat, about which no further details are known at the moment (or I haven't been able to find them), and he said so on his Twitter account:

"After 6 years and 137 published cartoons I have left The Private Eye. I received a death threat as a result of their incendiary cover of issue 1609, which I brought to their attention and received no response"

He illustrates his message with this parody of the cover of issue 1609.

Bad times for humour

TR: "This cartoon may contain some criticism of Private Eye".

I'm not going to kid you, at first I wasn't very clear why Zoom considered this cover "inflammatory", whether it was lukewarm, equidistant, or not taking sides with I don't know exactly which side or minimising the other. I even thought I was missing something in this story that I hadn't been able to read.

The thing is that days before I had posted this other message in which I included one of his cartoons that had been published in that issue in which he said:

"The latest cover of The Private Eye disappointed me, but at least they published this cartoon of mine on page 28".

Bad times for humour

In the scene a blonde person with a backpack on his back (I assume he is drawing an "activist" from an indeterminate group) and with what appears to be a spray paint in one hand, throws a brick at what I understand is the window of a synagogue and, looking at the viewer, says:

"Nowadays you can't do anything without being seen as an anti-Semite."

Once again, the joker of anti-Semitism is pulled, and an attempt is made to place it at the centre of the conversation, obviating any other necessary and core part of the story. But that is how vignettes are when read in isolation from any author's pieces as a whole, reductionist.

With this cartoon in isolation, I don't think you need to be very clever to understand his position and why the cartoonist finds the cover of the latest issue of the magazine "incendiary". I understand that he didn't think it was acceptable for Private Eye to point out the more than disproportionate and savage criminal actions of the Israeli government in Palestine.

Be that as it may, Rockman is within his rights to express his personal opinion in his cartoons as he sees fit and not to collaborate with publications that he considers do not share his view of the facts. It is quite another matter, and a very different and reprehensible one, for him to receive threats for his cartoons.

Nor is it fair for him to absent-mindedly point the finger at the magazine as indirectly guilty of the threats, although I understand that we all expect a certain "protection" or at least that the medium we work for will protect us at certain times.

A cartoonist is supposed to applaud the possibility of having a plural space (that's what I've been calling for all my life for cartoonists and readers) where divergent opinions can coexist in relative peace, even if some of them may be considered by some as low and even despicable.

About the "war"

Many continue to cynically call this"war", as if two states clash on more or less equal terms, and try to buy the Israeli government's macabre propaganda to reduce decades of occupation, murder and apartheid to the Hamas attack of 7 October when the Palestinians not only have no army to defend themselves, they are not even allowed to have one.

About Private Eye

Private Eye describes itself as the UK's best-selling news and current affairs magazine, offering a mix of humour, social and political observations and investigative journalism. Edited by Ian Hislop and published fortnightly, it is currently read by over 700,000 people and sells for £2.99 on all newsstands.

Bad times for humour

Humour in trouble, a collection of cases (III)
Cases of cartoonists who have got into some serious trouble because of their cartoons or satirical illustrations. There are also some stories of other people who, without being cartoonists, have got into trouble for sharing them.

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