Categories
Columns

Spineless Despots Don’t Like Cartoons

As incredible as it might seem for a modern European democracy, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is suing for an apology and €33,000 ($43,000.00) for a political cartoon, drawn by Martin “Shooty” Sutovec for the SME Daily newspaper, that mocked the Prime Minister’s health by suggesting he didn’t have a backbone.

Editorial cartoons are the best measure of a country’s freedom; cartoonists are barred from drawing their leaders in many countries around the world. Lawsuits from insulted politicians like Fico are typical in authoritarian regimes that claim to have a free press but can’t bear criticism. The government in Algeria claims to have a free press while officials often sue editorial cartoonists in civil court –- a common practice in Arab countries. It is disappointing to see third world style repression in an EU country like Slovakia, which should have higher standards.

In his offending cartoon, Shooty has drawn Prime Minister Fico seated in a doctor’s office. The doctor, after examining an x-ray, which shows Fico’s skeleton with no neck or spine, says to Fico, “I knew it! Your spine can’t possibly hurt because you don’t have a backbone.” Cartoons that accuse politicians of “having no backbone” are universal.

In his lawsuit against Shooty and his publisher, the prime minister stated that while he was suffering unbearable physical pain, the SME daily was misusing his image and mocking his suffering, which harmed his dignity and reputation.

Eliza Young, a spokesperson for Freedom House, an NGO that monitors press freedom around the world said, “The case against Martin ‘Shooty’ Sutovec is one of many inappropriate cases that have been brought against the Slovak media in the past year and represents a wider trend of intimidation of the press by political elites. Not only has the prime minister filed several lawsuits, but the Chairman of the Supreme Court has harassed publishers and a radio station, demanding out-of-court settlements of up to €200,000 ($286,000). The courts’ inclination to rule in favor of politicians in many cases is worrying, and we fear that the extreme fines associated with these charges will lead to increased self-censorship by Slovakia’s journalists. In a democratic society, a journalist’s first loyalty should be to its citizens, not its politicians.”

Slovakia’s Fico, who clings to his communist roots, often sues the media for libel and has been awarded substantial compensatory damages. In 2009, Fico was awarded €92,000 in damages for various libel claims against the press, including €66,000 in a case where a newspaper was unable to prove that Fico had called two journalists “dirty bastards”.

Editorial cartoonists in America are given broad protections allowing them to ridicule public figures. By choosing to become a public figure, American politicians give up their right to sue cartoonists. I drew President Clinton as the character in the “Operation” game at the time of his heart surgery. One of our syndicated cartoonists, Monte Wolverton, drew an anal-interior view of President George W. Bush after a colonoscopy revealed five small polyp growths in Bush’s colon –- cartoons lampooning our leaders’ health issues are common fare in American editorial cartoons.

Being subject to public scrutiny and potential ridicule should be a part of the job for public officials in the civilized world – especially when it comes to spineless despots, like Fico.

_______________

See more of Shooty’s cartoons here: //cagle.com/daryl/2010/05/19/spineless-despots-don’t-like-cartoons/

Caption for the cartoon:

This is the cartoon that offended the Slovakian Prime Minister. Martin “Shooty” Sutovec’s cartoons are syndicated to about half of America’s daily newspapers, including this newspaper.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Daryl’s cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading now. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

Categories
Columns

Apple You Can Ridicule Obama but Don’t Bash Tiger Woods

Apple: You Can Ridicule Obama, but Don’t Bash Tiger Woods

Should newspaper editorial cartoonists be banned from drawing cartoons about some selected, famous people? Many believe we should not be allowed to draw the Prophet Muhammad — but how about banning us from drawing Tiger Woods? If Apple has its way, iPhone users won’t see cartoonists commenting about Tiger, and other topics that might “ridicule public figures.”

I distribute my own cartoons and the work of dozens of other top editorial cartoonists from around the world to newspapers, Web sites and now to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. As the audience for news and opinion has grown on the iPhone, we’ve put more effort into developing editorial cartoon apps that show all the latest cartoons that the cartoonists draw on different topics. Apple approved our “msnbc.com Obama Cartoons” app that shows the latest newspaper editorial cartoons drawn about President Obama, but Apple rejected our app on the topic of Tiger Woods. It seems that Tiger crosses an editorial line at Apple.

Editorial cartoonists are simply columnists who write their opinions in the form of images, rather than only using words. Cartoons often have more impact than words. The editorial cartoon leaps out at the reader from the op-ed pages of newspapers. Readers cut cartoons out to stick on their refrigerators, but don’t do the same for those dull columns. Newspaper editorial cartoons have an important history in American journalism. Political cartoons are taught as required curriculum in high schools –- still, some people, like the editors at Apple, seem to see editorial cartoons as different than other forms of journalism — as a part of the newspaper that is somehow more offensive than words.

When I submitted my first iPhone app, “msnbc.com Cartoons,” the editors at Apple took three months to consider it, an unusually long time. I’m told it was a difficult decision for them. At that time they also rejected an app called “Bobble Rep” by my friend, Mad Magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond, because it contained caricatures of members of Congress; after some public outcry, Apple reconsidered and approved Tom’s app. Another cartoonist friend, Mark Fiore, had his rejected iPhone app reconsidered and approved only after he won a Pulitzer Prize for his cartoons. Soon after it was approved, Mark’s app became the number one best-selling news app on the iPhone. I’ve asked Apple to reconsider their rejection of our “Tiger Woods Cartoons” app, and have received no response.

With all of their rejections, Apple sends the cartoonist a form letter noting “content that ridicules public figures” is in violation of the iPhone license agreement.

Cartoonists love to chase the top news stories; some personalities, like Tiger Woods, are favorites of the editorial pages. From President Obama and Sarah Palin to Michael Vick and Michael Jackson, journalists debate about famous people in words while editorial cartoonists churn out the cartoons. It is the nature of a free and open debate that defines a democratic society.

Editorial cartoons are the best measure of the freedom of a nation. Cartoonists in Cuba have never drawn Fidel Castro; cartoonists in Egypt can’t draw their President Hosni Mubarak; cartoonists in China don’t draw their President Hu Jintao. Authoritarian regimes always turn first to control the cartoonists, and forbid them from “ridiculing public figures.”

As newspaper audiences decline, more readers have moved to the Web and now to mobile devices for news and opinion. The iPhone dominates the audience that consumes news on their phones, and the new iPad is designed to grab even more print readers, perhaps replacing print. Editorial cartoonists, who are moving from print and the Web to mobile devices, are finding that Apple’s views of their profession can have a profound impact on what their future audience will be.

I suppose Tiger Woods could be considered an unimportant topic for debate –- but newspaper editors certainly devoted a lot of space to Tiger; we heard about Tiger endlessly on television; columnists wrote about Tiger; editorial cartoonists drew hundreds of cartoons about Tiger — and Apple decided that Tiger Woods was not an appropriate topic of discussion for editorial cartoonists.

It is chilling to see Apple pick and choose which topics can be discussed in the media they control. By positioning itself to control the new methods of delivery for news and opinion, Apple assumes a special responsibility to allow for a full and free debate on all topics and personalities in the news.

I don’t want Apple deciding which public figures I may ridicule.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Daryl’s cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading now. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

Below are some examples of cartoons that iPhone users will not see, from the “Tiger Woods Cartoons” app that Apple has rejected.

Categories
Columns

Catholic Church Crisis and Cartoon Circus

As the Vatican defends against lawsuits and launches a public relations blitz to defend the Pope, editorial cartoons may be the most visible, powerful and damning criticism the church faces. The cartoon floodgates have opened as editorial cartoonists around the world have released a deluge of Pope bashing cartoons.

By an odd coincidence, the Catholic Church has a strong presence in countries that happen to have a strong tradition of cartooning and the passionate anger of cartoonists who were raised in the church has been on display recently like never before.

Here is a selection of church scandal cartoons from around the globe.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Daryl’s cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading now. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

Categories
Columns

Those Zany, Bloody, Colombian Cartoons – UPDATE

Editors: Due to new developments in Colombia we’re sending this updated version.

Those Zany, Bloody, Colombian Cartoons

I just got back from a cool editorial cartoonists’ conference in Colombia last week. Bogota is a huge city of about 8.5 million people, full of universities and libraries and a thriving community of cartoonists. Colombian politics are crazy, bloody, complex and difficult for me to digest in just a week of cramming. Colombia is the second biggest country in South America and the third largest recipient in the world of U.S. foreign aid, because of all the drug issues there. The U.S. State Department brought me to Colombia on a speaking tour to attend the conference as the only American cartoonist.

The Colombian cartoonists are a spirited bunch, with odd one-word pen names such as Mico (monkey), Chócolo (corn-on-the-cob), Matador (killer) and Bacteria.

Mico is also a national TV star; he dresses up like a woman, holds an umbrella and talks about politics with his actor partner on a popular show that he writes each week called “Tola y Maruja.” Bacteria took his name to honor his mother who died from a bacterial infection soon after giving birth to him. Some of this Colombian stuff is pretty strange.

The Colombian political cartoonists have a macho attitude and take pride in speaking truth to power. Their cartoons are gory. Many recent Colombian cartoons are about the so-called “false positives” where the Colombian army was paid to kill paramilitary guerillas, and killed many innocent, civilian “false positives” along the way, identifying the innocents as militants in order to collect more government bounties.

The only two Colombians who came to mind when I first arrived were Juan Valdez and Pablo Escobar, the Medellín drug kingpin. Colombia had many years where drug gangs ran roughshod. Colombians order delivery of everything — even McDonald’s, harking back to the days when it was unsafe to walk the streets. The government didn’t do its job of protecting the people from lawlessness, so Colombians banded together, funding paramilitary groups for protection from the criminals. Of course, once they were formed and armed, those paramilitary groups became lawless themselves.

The FARC is a Marxist guerilla group that raises their funds through kidnappings, drug dealing and contributions from nutty euro-communists. In 2008, the Colombian security forces successfully rescued some hostages that the FARC had been holding for years, including former beauty queen, senator, presidential candidate and French dual citizen, Ingrid Betancourt. A high profile Colombian raid into Ecuador killed FARC leaders and led to a diplomatic wound with Ecuador, which seems to have recently been healed.

Now the streets are safe enough that pedestrians can worry about being mugged rather than riddled with bullets from narco-Marxist-terrorists, thanks to scandal-plagued Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, supported by the USA, who has done a messy but assertive job of crushing the paramilitaries. The Colombian cartoonists savage Uribe, who is term-limited out of office soon and just had his hopes for a third term quashed by the Colombian Supreme Court.

The Colombian cartoonists love to ridicule their neighbor and FARC supporter, President Hugo Chavez, who cut off economic ties between Venezuela and Colombia to protest Colombian military cooperation with the USA. Newspapers have stories every day about Chavez’s dysfunctional regime.

With such a bloody circus of local events, it is not surprising that the Colombian cartoonists draw almost exclusively about issues concerning Colombia and its neighbors. Editorial cartoons from around the world are not reprinted in Colombia, just as we don’t see Colombian cartoons reprinted in America.

There were lots of questions at the conference about censorship and about where cartoonists should “draw the line” on topics they won’t touch. I encouraged everyone to think of editorial cartoons as a barometer of freedom. In many countries, cartoonists never draw their leaders; cartoonists in Venezuela aren’t allowed to draw Hugo Chavez; cartoonists in Cuba never draw Fidel Castro. In Colombia the cartoonists ridicule their president Uribe every day and their lack of respect for their president speaks well of healthy press freedoms in Colombia.

Cartoons are important in Colombia; it is great to see the respect that cartoons command and to see how they have an important spot in so many newspapers and magazines. Even so, Colombian cartoonists complain about many of the same business problems that plague American cartoonists. Business is bad for newspapers everywhere and cartoonists are poorly paid.

The Colombian cartoonists also like to complain about editing; American cartoonists complain about editing too. It can be difficult to explain to foreign audiences that editing isn’t the same as censorship. Freedom of the press belongs to the guy who owns the press.

With all their complaints, the bloody, gory cartoons show that the Colombian cartooning profession is relatively healthy.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons as well as 50 other cartoonists, at www.caglecartoons.com are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Entertainment and Celebrities

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Entertainment and Celebrities

Here are some suggestions for Entertainment and Celebrity cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the selection of entertainment cartoons that we have. For more options please enter a keyword or proper name like “Oprah” into the search engine and you’ll find more great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Here are some suggestions for Iraq and Afghanistan cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the huge selection of war cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword Iraq, Afghanistan or war into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Economy

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Economy

Here are some suggestions for Economy cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the huge selection of economy cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword ECONOMY or similar into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – by Daryl Cagle

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – by Daryl Cagle

Here are my 2009 Year in Review cartoons. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Scandal

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Scandal

Here are some suggestions for Scandal cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the scandal cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword or name into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – In Memoriam

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – In Memoriam

Here are some suggestions for Memorial/Obit cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. For more options please enter a keyword or name into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Sports

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Sports

Here are some suggestions for Sports cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the huge selection of sports cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword Sports or similar into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

Categories
Columns

Let’s Run This Up the California Flagpole

My home state has been kicking the budget can down the road for years and is finally running out of road. California is facing its biggest budget deficit ever — a staggering $21 billion, or 49.3 percent of the state’s general revenue fund.

As a political cartoonist I look for bad guys to skewer in my cartoons. In California there are bad guys everywhere to be blamed for our fiscal mess: our good-for-nothing Governor Schwarzenegger; our greedy, irresponsible legislature; the media that ignores state issues; and the electorate who votes for more debt to fund wasteful projects like multi-billion dollar trains people don’t want to use. Voters have approved more bond debt than the state can sell. In short, everyone is a bad guy.

Different groups point to their own favorite villains. Liberals like to blame Proposition 13 for limiting the legislature’s ability to raise taxes, even though our taxes are crazy high. Conservatives like to blame labor unions for milking the state dry, and liberals for chasing away business with taxes and regulations. The media likes to blame voters who vote for constitutional amendments that micromanage our dysfunctional legislature. Populists want to tax the rich more, even though the state has gotten into trouble by relying too much on income taxes and crashed when the incomes of the rich fell with the current recession.

But cash-flow isn’t California’s only problem — we also have a water crisis. In Los Angeles I’m limited to watering my lawn after 5:00pm on Monday and Thursday, and I struggle with a low-flow toilet, that has to be flushed three times to work, while rice farmers flood their farms with cheap subsidized water and the legislature has approved a whopping $11 billion bond measure, laced with porky giveaways, to fix the “water problem.” California would have plenty of water and money to go around if we had leaders who could step up and make some serious choices.

My favorite California money pits are the state commissions; out-of-work legislators, who have been term-limited out of office, are appointed to these six figure, do-nothing jobs while they relax and wait for their next electoral opportunities.

We have colorful problems and goofy characters who should make great cartoon characters for me, but they all share the blame so equally, and are so uninteresting as individuals, that my life as a California editorial cartoonist is more frustrating than it should be.

Of course, this all leads me to suggest that we change our state flag.

The bear on our flag might be the only state government character who stands blame-free, and who looks good in a cartoon. We should keep the bear — but let’s change him every so often to let the government know how we feel about them. Here are a few of my suggestions for a new state flag.

California’s governor and legislature could run a few of these flags up the flagpole, and see who salutes them.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons as well as 50 other cartoonists, at www.caglecartoons.com are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.