Garry Trudeau (author and illustrator of the long-standing comic, Doonesbury) was recently honored with the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University, and he used the opportunity to talk about Charlie Hebdo, free-speech fanaticism, and our growing culture of “punching down.” Trudeau is no stranger to controversy – his strip has been censored numerous times throughout its many decades – so it’s interesting to hear his take on these issues:
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The Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful.
Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful.