Caricature and the Power of the Pen

Recent world events involving caricatures and religiously-motivated attacks on free speech merely validate the ancient wisdom that “the pen is mightier than the sword”, any sword. Tyrants and fascist religions and institutions have never understood this wisdom and even in our modern age continue to think that the sword is mightier, even though their own reaction to the power of the pen proves the contrary.

Drawing the Line has an informative posting on political cartoons and relates an interesting story from America in this regard:

In perhaps the best known example of the force of the political cartoon, Thomas Nast’s images in Harper’s Weekly played an important role in the overthrow of the Tweed Ring in 1870s New York City. An exasperated Boss Tweed is recorded to have demanded of his henchmen, ‘Stop them damn pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers write about me. My constituents can’t read. But, damn it, they can see pictures.’ “

We think that free speech is not limitless and that there should be some limits on caricature (e.g. caricature which functions as libel and defamation), but there is obviously no reason that certain historical figures should be exempted from cartoon portrayal. Indeed, no historical figure is viewed uniformly by all of humanity, and no segment of humanity has the right to instruct other humans as to how to view some personage, even an alleged prophet.

In our view, the most recent “Prophet of God” was Albert Einstein, who showed us how the universe works, and yet, caricatures of Einstein are widespread without in any way detracting from his “message”. There is one difference. Einstein’s message is true. That is why certain nations, rather than to rely on the antiquated messages of their own alleged prophets, are attempting to gain nuclear weapons, whose construction is based on Einstein’s message.

In any case, one of the reasons that blogging has become such an important part of the media scene is precisely because it is an exercise of the “power of the pen”.

When just a few cartoons can provoke world-wide reaction far out of proportion to the cost of the ink and the paper used for publication, the power of the pen has been aptly proven.