With Great Creativity comes Great Risk

By now I’m sure some of you have heard the news on the attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in which four cartoonists on staff lost their lives. The victims are pictured below.

CharlieHebdo_deadCartoonists

What triggered such a massacre? In a moment similar to that involving Sony Pictures and North Korea before Christmas, ISIS threatened to attack France in response to the publications’s cartoon featuring the group’s leader (pictured below).

CharlieHebdoCartoon

Being a cartoonist will never be easy.

Harn_Lay

Before I make my point, allow me to talk about another cartoonist.

At the International Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, one of the exhibits is dedicated to international human rights. As you walk toward the entrance of the exhibit, you’re graced with wall-to-wall photomural of people currently risking their lives doing what they can to fight for their basic rights around the world.

Among the individuals featured on the wall is cartoonist Harn Lay (pictured above), a former Burmese rebel soldier who fled to Thailand in 1988. He’s been on record to say that the Burmese government would imprison him for every cartoon he drew if he ever returned. Remember, Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a nation where free speech is on par with soviet- era Russia and current day North Korea. What does a cartoonist from a totalitarian nation have to do with the French bombing? Both involve cartoonists who’ve risked their lives to communicate through imagery, only the latter finally succumbed to that risk.

While the French Cartoonists in had little to fear from their government, they still faced the threat of retaliation from foreign groups and fellow citizens.

Something to think about for Americans drawing anti-police cartoons.

 

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