France: is criticising a cartoonist censorship?
In France, cartoonist Xavier Gorce has resigned from Le Monde after the French newspaper apologised for a cartoon he drew that referenced an incest scandal and contained allusions to rainbow and patchwork families. Gorce defended it as an ironic reaction to a statement by philosopher Alain Finkelkraut. The incident has triggered a storm of accusations about cancel culture, particularly on social media.
The arrogance of embittered souls
Things are not looking good for irony, Le Point complains:
“Our society seems increasingly subject to the whims of the morose, the embittered, the dogmatic, the small-minded, the spoilsports, the malicious, the troublemakers and the obstructionists ... Before you open your mouth, hit the keyboard or pick up a pen, you have to be careful not to offend all these acrimonious minds. ... To use irony is to risk hurting someone. Irony is synonymous with ambiguity. By preaching falsehood, one reveals evil thoughts under the surface. The 'micro-victims' of our time want their inclination to be shocked to dictate what may be said, and how it should be said. They want a binary world, divided into those who are offended and those who offend.”
Freedom of expression comes with responsibility
Calling this out as cancel culture annoys political scientist Jean-Yves Pranchère, as he explains in Libération:
“If an illustrator resigns because he can't tolerate criticism and if he is then presented as a victim of 'censorship', this is not defending freedom of speech. No, this is exercising the right to say whatever one wants, whenever and wherever one pleases without ever accepting the basic fact that certain positions of power (for example that of an illustrator at Le Monde) go hand in hand with responsibilities. And that the possibility of making mistakes goes hand in hand with the possibility of apologising. This 'scandal' is typical of a culture of irresponsibility. No newspaper has to embrace this culture.”