Sunday, March 26, 2006

Satire: Irony: Kirschner designs howler, offers Shmendrik Awards 4 AntiSemitism (equal opportunity > some fellow Jews included)

The distinctive Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschner, usually gentle and even whimisical in pointng to the absurdities and horrors of these times from the perspective of an American-born Jew living in Israel in his elderly years, has produced a belly-shaker of strait-faced irony in picturing photographically the awardwinners in his recent Shmendrik accolades – a set of awards that, for me, rival the Oscars this year. I don't want to give away the pleasures of surprise in enjoying the semiotic technique of satire and irony employed on a very serious theme.

Kirschner is himself an outstanding cartoonist who swept the recent Israeli and Jewish Annual Blog Awards in several categories. I've learned to take his work as a reference-point for determining what cartoon and satire techniques are legit, and what stray into the zone of gross impropriety. It's a fine line sometimes, at others its not difficult at all to discern the spirits in the cartoon-works of a given artist who becomes nothing but savage propagandist.

Politicarp (refWrite's main political writer) and I (as his editor) have been very stringent, but correctly so (I believe), on the Jyllands-Posten spirit of cartooning and of prophet-mocking aimed explicitly against our Muslim neighbours in an incendiary world situation. Politicarp and I have tried to point out how an absolute doctrine of freedom of expression, freedom of speech, is inherently contradictory. I've pointed out how in the case of the Danish cartoons the freedom for public cartoon-mockery (some of the J-P cartoons seemed to me to be quite innocuous, others were not, indeed were quite vile); in that case the J-P was was consistent with the (il)logic of the demand for absolute freedom in Danish secularist free-market ideology for the child pornography for which Denmark is world famous, along with Danes in the same spirit who are active in the worldwide child-sex tourism industry. But this absolutist "freedom of expression/speech" contrasts sharply with the statutory prohibition of anti-religon (Danish state Lutheran Christianity) and particularly antiJewish, antiJudaic, and Holocaust-denial in expressive acts and public discourse. I support the Danish law in these prohibitory and penalizing regards, and likewise insist that it is antiChristian not to catch the positive spirit of that prohibition and extend it sympathetically to prohibit attacks on the core figure in the Muslim neighbour's attitude toward honouring prophecy (which requires respect for Abraham, Moses and all the Judaic Prophets, respect for Jesus, and respect for Mohammed - tho the violation of this spirit may be conducted by some Muslims too). But mostly the violations in Denmark, in all of Europe, and in North America are the work of secularist "Humanists" who hate all religions without ever noting the corporate sins of secularist atheist Nazi and Communist mass-murder systems which surpass the horrors of all other religions ever in Europe). Kirschner, to the extent I know his corpus of work, manages to draw the line well!

Moreover, refWrite now has organized a Satire section on the sidebar, experimenting and reflecting upon satire, irony, mockery, et., by linking to both the great Kirschner, HumorFeed, and some independent blogging satirists. They appear uncensored and unmonitored on this blog for the meanwhile, to test how well and how far a Christian blog, largely political in content, can accomodate the most severe visual and writerly critical works of some satirists, ironists, and mockers. We will try to keep up somewhat with what we make available, but invite our readers / viewers to use the Comments of this particular blog-entry to make criticisms of matter carried in the Satire section offered in refWrite's Sidebar. You are welcome to criticize, or alternatively to praise any particular well-wrought urn of such humour. If the HumorFeed proves unbearable over a bit of time, it will be dropped. More largely, it must be said that there is still a keen place in a shared morality of living with neighbourliness in a society of diverse religions and their adherents of good will, a shared place also for cartoonists, mindful of the thawt that launches the Book of Psalms. Please note Psalm 1 (verse 1):

"Blessed is the man

who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

or stand in the way of sinners

or sit in the seat of mockers."

I don't think this verse rules out the full development of personal vocations to gifted people as cartoonists, satirists, and ironists; but reflection on it should give Judaists, Christians and Muslims pause as they put their pen to the piece of paper before them each day and awaiting that first line to be drawn. As in so many vocations of cultural service, there's an existential moment for the person of conscience – secularists and atheists too! - Owlb

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