New York Times bans political cartoons
The New York Times has announced that it will stop publishing cartoons in its international edition starting July. The paper faced a storm of protest after it ran a cartoon of Trump and Netanyahu in April which critics decried as anti-Semitic. Commentators see the move as a dangerous decision.
Self-censorship instead of self-assurance
The New York Times's decision is cowardly, De Standaard writes:
“A good ten years ago the Muhammad cartoons caused a huge fuss, and four years ago the attack on Charlie Hebdo drew attention to its admittedly sometimes distasteful cartoons. Back then we were all Charlie. Something that no one would have believed possible at that time, however, is now apparently happening. An important beacon of the free media is bowing to critics. Instead of defending itself the paper has come to terms with the idea of self-censorship. ... Freedom of opinion remains the most important asset of a democratic society. It means that we are confronted with opinions and interpretations that we don't like and which can even offend us.”
Humour is essential for democracy
Cartoons play a crucial role in the fight for democracy and freedom, The Guardian stresses:
“They consequently have the power to shock and offend. That, largely, is what they're there for, as a kind of dark, sympathetic magic masquerading as a joke. That's also why the Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart is in jail, why the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was facing 43 years imprisonment for sedition until a change of government last year; why five cartoonists were murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January 2015; why dozens of British cartoonists - including William Heath Robinson - were on the Gestapo death list.”