Sometimes in this age of real-time social media I get asked for opinions about controversial cartoons which have been published. Today, I am too busy to offer a long one.
Often, after considering the rights and wrongs of the act of publication, the subject, the level of social media outrage and the likely intent of the cartoonist who put his or her name to the image*, I come back to this statement.
A cartoon cannot say ‘on the other hand,’ and it cannot be defended with logic. It is a frontal assault, a slam dunk, a cluster bomb. Journalism is about fairness, objectivity, factuality; cartoons use unfairness, subjectivity and the distortion of facts to get at truths that are greater than the sum of the facts.
This quotation belongs to the late, lamented American cartoonist Doug Marlette who, for what it is worth, has been a significant influence upon me. Here’s another one from my colleague, Dave Brown.
If you would like to add your wisdom, please do in the comments. I should also say that comments are moderated, at need.
- A tip: If a cartoonist hasn’t done this, the image isn’t worth its name as a cartoon because the opinion within it isn’t owned.