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Cartoonists are being killed for US criticism

If you joke about the Iraq war or Christianity, you can get Western fundamentalists by the neck.


[satire] It's a very ordinary day at the home of the cartoonist Ted Rall. He is well accustomed to threatening e-mails and telephones because of his political comics, but this day is a raucous bunch of New York firefighters outside the door.

- They tried to break through the door to attack me, Rall tells Ny Tid.

It rained to the firefighters because of a series in which Rall suggested that the heroes of September 11 were a new upper class among New York's public servants. Rall is a satirist with great powers as a weapon and in his vision of the future from 2011 had drawn parallels between firefighters and dictators in the Third World. In the series, firefighters swim in dollar gifts and drive to fire places in their own limousine, but Rall had not dreamed that it would provoke so he got threatening firefighters pounding on the door. However, American toes have become long

after the terrorist attacks in 2001.

- I am constantly threatened because of my drawings, and this has only increased after the political climate in the US moved to the right after 11/XNUMX. Any criticism of the Bush administration and its policies is met with hateful rhetoric and threatening response. I have also been fired from several newspapers and magazines as a result of criticism and threats from the right.

Horrible resistance

At the same time as Muslims burned Norwegian and Danish flags because of the Muhammad cartoons in the Jutland Post and Magazine, Pulitzer-praised newspaper illustrator Tom Toles got into trouble because of a drawing in the Washington Post newspaper. Several military top executives thought the drawing of a mutilated American soldier was tasteless. They wrote a scathing letter to the newspaper claiming that Toles insulted the soldiers for scoring a cheap political point.

Toles, Rall and Dan Perkins, the latter stocked under the artist name Tom Tomorrow comic This Modern World, are the characters most frequently killed in the United States because of their outspoken drawings.

- Censorship and violent reactions have become a widespread problem after 11/1990. In the XNUMXs, angry readers sent letters to the editor, but today they are organizing campaigns and boycotts to counter cartoonists they dislike. The blogs, which in the US are mainly right-wing, also contribute. Editors rarely censor my work themselves, but they do not hesitate to throw the cartoonist at the wolves if the drawings provoke hateful reactions. Several of my colleagues are now talking for the first time about moving from the USA, because it has become so difficult to work here, Rall says.

Dark men and extremists

In Norway, Karstein Volle runs in the same satire tradition with the comic book Facts from the World, where on the occasion of the Mohammed battle, he practices what he calls religious extremists and dark men.

- I have not yet been censored in any way, strangely enough. The only thing that comes up is the occasional email from readers, where I am called a terrorist glorifying satan. Ted Rall, Tom Tomorrow and Tom Toles, on the other hand, receive death threats regularly. Therefore, I think it seemed hypocritical when Magazinet editor Vebjørn Selbekk appeared in VG and portrayed himself as a martyr for freedom of speech. The man is a Christian extremist, and that he has managed to turn the Muhammad debate into a question of freedom of expression is a bit of a feat, Volle believes.

Ted Rall can't be intimidated overseas, but if he continues to make series where, for example, he portrays the widows after September 11 as media cynical cynics or draws Ronald Reagan in hell, the threats are unlikely to stop. He sees clear parallels between the violent reactions of both Muslims and right-wingers.

- I know as little about what is going on in the head of a conservative American as a radical Islamist. To be fair, it must be said that no conservative has burned down embassies or started riots because of a newspaper article, but the criticism of the Iraq war and Bush seems to hit harder than you might think. Maybe it's because, deep down, conservatives know they're wrong. This leads to insecurity, which in turn leads to hatred and fear, Rall concludes.

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