Thursday, 13 September 2012


Trending on the news - and not for the best of reasons - is a cartoonist these days. The guy was popped into a jail cell on charges of sedition, for what were viewed as offensive in the extreme cartoons. Of course, it's redundant to say that there are various views here: a faction of people mortally wounded by the said cartoons, while others have merely laughed them off, and thereby gone back to their lives. Another set of people have shrugged their shoulders and fence sat, and gone back into hibernation. That said, there is also a fourth lot, the ignorant, who asked, what cartoon? which cartoonist, did you say?

The cartoons in the limelight go all out to diss the state of affairs in the country currently. From desecrating the national symbol, to depicting canines ditching their favoured fire hydrants to relieve themselves on more sensitive surroundings... the said cartoons have it all. So Faction One objects, naturally. What Faction Two says is, aren't they just calling a spade a spade? Not everyone voices - or in this case, sketches - what they actually feel, and an even smaller number ask for free hospitality courtesy their government by putting them up on their blog. This guy did that. And got a lot of freebies in the bargain, including his 15 seconds of fame on all media possible. People who didn't read newspapers (Faction Four) picked them up, and got more information than they even wanted, given the very exciting stuff that the papers are otherwise crammed with. Others who didn't know cartoons beyond what they saw on the telly in their childhoods, suddenly woke up to them. Faction Three, Those With No Voice, just melted into the furniture when asked for an opinion, God forbid they meet the same fate as the cartoonist. News media benefited too; they had something apart from murders and robberies to report. Ah.

Now that's the story for you. It of course brings up the eternal question - how much is too much? In an attempt to raise a question/ point out facts(?)/ create awareness/ whatchamacallit, is it okay to draw no lines whatsoever, and happily believe that anything goes? The eternal debate of creative expression versus going too far rears its head.

Can the twain meet? Here's what I think: yes, one can express what s/he feels. However, offensive needs to be married with acceptable somewhere. It may not always be a win-win situation for both, but there is something to be said about a few things being sacred. Religion, flags of various countries - isn't there a reason they're topics (normally) approached sensitively? I'd say go right ahead and do what you want - but not such that if it were to happen to you, you'd react as strongly, as adversely, as the reaction you've just gotten. That old adage - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - tweaked a bit, maybe.

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