From the theaters of ancient Greece to the early political cartoons that emerged in Europe several centuries later, satire has long been a means of undermining authority and disrupting the status quo.
In April, 2013, journalist Victor Navasky appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss his book, “The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power.” Navasky cited Thomas Nast, a man he calls “the father of political cartooning,” as an example of a cartoonist whose work had real world impact. Nast’s recognizable caricatures of Boss Tweed ultimately led to the corrupt politician’s indictment.
Last week, political cartoonist Ted Rall spoke with Jeffrey Brown following the horrific terrorist attack on the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo,” which resulted in the deaths of several cartoonists and other staff members. Rall raised the point that, in the United States today, few media outlets employ political cartoonists, and the profession faces “an existential threat…from budget cuts and the transformation of media in the digital age.”
How important are political cartoons and other forms of satire to contemporary society? What is the role of satirists and cartoonists, and should their work be held to the same standards, and protected under the same laws, as other forms of media? We took the conversation to Twitter, where political cartoonist Ted Rall (@TedRall) shared his perspective as an industry insider. Read a transcript of the discussion below.