Thursday, April 16, 2015

Doonesbury Goes Soft on Free Speech

Gary Trudeau, creator of the cartoon strip Doonesbury, gave a speech this week at a ceremony at Long Island University as this year's recipient of the George E. Polk Career Award. The George Polk Awards in Journalism are a series of prestigious American journalism awards presented annually by Long Island University in New York.

In his acceptance speech, Trudeau expounded on the recent slaughter of 12 staff members at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists over a series of unflattering cartoons of Mohammed. According to Trudeau, they bear the brunt of blame for their own slaughter.

Below are some of the more disturbing cuts from the text of his remarks delivered on April 10 - [Click on the link for the full text]

The Abuse of Satire
By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence...Meanwhile, the French government kept busy rounding up and arresting over 100 Muslims who had foolishly used their freedom of speech to express their support of the attacks."

"What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism."

"It’s not easy figuring out where the red line is for satire anymore. But it’s always worth asking this question: Is anyone, anyone at all, laughing? If not, maybe you crossed it."
[Emphasis added]

Needless to say, this has been met with much criticism. The obvious criticism was how he blames the victims for being hateful and got what they asked for. But most importantly, the criticism was along the lines of who gets to define "free speech". If we define hate speech as anything that is offensive, then we must give up the concept of free speech altogether. Because there is nothing that cannot be is not offensive to someone.

Honestly, the gall of Gary Trudeau who has spent his career in offensive political and social satire having the nerve to define free speech down to what is safe and inoffensive. Yes, the "free speech absolutists" as he calls them deserved what they get because these "powerless, disenfranchised minorities" must express their outrage and pain over cartoons with indescriminate slaughter.

Being outraged over a offensive cartoons is one thing, but expressing that outrage by slaughtering people is inexcusable. And accepting that we must shut up or die is unconscionable.


Robert L. Hedd said...

Bev.....Who is Gary Trudeau and what is a Doonesbury? Wasn't he prime minister of Canada at one time? And isn't Doonesbury a village in Saskatoon? Why are we discussing what a Canadian has to say?

OTOH, he probably thinks he is a brave man for "speaking truth to power." He is irrelevant, past his due date and has never been funny. His "satire" such as it is is centered around skewering Repubs and conservatives. avant garde, so bold.

So, he should go back to his penthouse on the West Side, write his little comic strip to make his millions and just leave the rest of us alone.

Until a Repub Prez and Congress decide that his comic is "hate speech" and will be censored.

"What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism."

Agreed. He is a fanatic and must be silenced. He should not be allowed to satirize Repubs by punching down.

Good bye Mr. T, we hardly knew ye.


Critch said...

Trudeau is like so many limousine-liberals, they're filled with angst that somehow they made it and now they have to give back...certainly never bothered him to go after groups as a cartoonist that he didn't like. FWIW, I didn't read Doonesbury, I didn't think it was that funny.

Kit said...


Mallard Fillmore is way funnier than Doonesbury.

AndrewPrice said...

I have never liked Doonesbury. Not only is Trudeau such a pinko leftist that his cartoon more often than not ends up in the political cartoons rather than the comic strip pages, but I just don't think it's clever or funny.

And it wouldn't surprise me in the least that he thinks this way. He is a leftist, which means his roots are communists and fascists, both of which believe that it is valid to stifle free speech by violence. So it's natural that he would blame the victim... something the left excels at.

Kit said...

If you look at his statements, there is a pseudo-Marxist thing there in his statements about "punching-up" and "punching-down."

Let me explain; Muslims are weak and unprivileged but Republicans (even when they are out of power) are strong and privileged. Therefore one must make fun of the latter but not the former since the Muslims are disadvantaged and must carry out acts of violence against the privileged as a way of pushing against their oppression.

Yes, it excuses violence while at the same time implicitly paints all Muslims as terrorists, but, hey, that is leftism for you!

tryanmax said...

"Punch up, not down" is the comedy version of "check your privilege," which essentially translates to "STFU."

I take that back. In comic circles, the rule of thumb is sound. But lately, many outside the circle have appropriated and abused it. I would consider Trudeau, as unfunny as he always has been, to be outside the circle.

SJW's like to use the phrase to generate confusion over which way is up. A handful of cartoonists poke fun at the world's fastest-growing and soon to be largest religion and they are the villains because they are white Europeans. And somehow tramping on corpses is "punching up."

BevfromNYC said...

The entire concept that Islamic terrorists are "punching up" is ludicrous. How many countries and governments do they have to invade and topple before they are no longer considered a "powerless, disenfranchised minority" yearning to be left alone? Heck, no one would have considered Germans or Japanese "powerless, disenfranchised minorities", would they?

Kit said...

By the way, libertarian singer/satirist Remy has put out a video on Tax Day, using the One Direction song "Best Song Ever".

EricP said...

Bloom County, at least to this 80s teen, always offered much better (even semi-respectful) socio-political commentary than Doonesbury, but loathing hippies and their whiny posturing, of course I'm gonna say that.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Bloom County was awesome. He made fun of everyone and it was hilarious. I still remember the grandfather hunting liberals with a shotgun. And of course, when Bill the Cat became Fundamentally Oral Bill. LOL!

Koshcat said...

So if I am offended by his cartoon, I can justifiably shoot him? I am a white male so not down trodden but I'm half Irish and grew up in a rural state. I also have native American blood somewhere in the past. Not much but more than Squaw Warren and Chief Churchill.

I can't tell if my downtrodden outweighs my privilege.

Koshcat said...

BTW, where do this f***king morons get their education? No, violence is not considered a protected form of free speech. It never has and it never will.

EricP said...

Deathtöngue, er, Billy & The Boingers for life, AP. "I'm a Boinger" b/w "You Stink (But I Love You)" the greatest plexi-45 of all time!!!

Make fun of everyone or no one, sadly the formula for the best comedy which gets lost on assjacks like Trudeau.

Kit said...


You are conservative, therefore you are privileged.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Absolutely. The best comedy comes from pointing out whatever is funny. Once you decide that an entire ideology and all of its adherents are off limits, the comedy becomes very narrow and rather nasty.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, You need to look on the sliding scale to decide how victimized you are compared to your target.

BevfromNYC said...

Koshcat - if you feel that you are a "powerless, disenfranchised minority" then you are free to cause bodily harm to those who mock you and your beliefs. Apparently they will deserve what they get. Gary Trudeau says so.

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