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Satire is more important now than it ever has been before. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, worlds of complicity are colliding with words of reality. We’re struggling to read between the lines of fact and fiction. We’re being puppeteered by demagogues. 

 

Cartoons are the perfect muse for shrinking attention spans. They’re little Jacobian masterpieces, here to burn down the houses of the powerful the way they know best - by making their rule comedic and slowly chipping away at their ego. 

Rabble Rouser is beyond fortunate to be able to publish investigative pieces, prose, thought pieces and cartoons without fearing imprisonment or other repercussions that are still very much a reality for many journalists and cartoonists alike. In the times we are in some times it is difficult to see the humor in things when reality has become one living breathing joke and those who were elected to guide us have failed us.

 

It is this abandoned in the wilderness scenario that yields some of the best products of chaos whether they be illustrations or articles. Fear not the act of being abandoned by the government and other structures as we know them, fear being in such a situation and doing nothing at all. It can be difficult to do something, to be afraid to speak out of fear of being lambasted as not being "politically correct" enough or smart enough. The worst thing you can say is nothing at all. Satire is as simple as it is complex; and in these moments where we may not know exactly what to do or what to say it is our savior of sorts. 

Notes to Rabble Rouser from Zach, a 23-year-old satirical cartoonist from the Philippines. For some, satire is a matter of life-or-death, a decision no one should have to make. If you would like to support Zach and his work you can follow him on Instagram here and you can also find his work on Cartoon Movement here

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"Since newspaper companies are doing cost-cutting measures due to the decline in advertising, the job vacancies for editorial cartoonists get scarcer.”

 

“Although it is a democratic country, the state of press freedom in the Philippines is deteriorating. Some journalists are harassed, intimidated and even murdered merely for merely doing their job.”

 

“If I post editorial cartoons that are perceived as “anti- government” in social media, aside from words of appreciation, I also receive negative or hateful comments from the trolls and so-called “fanatics”. They would usually accuse us of attacking and destroying the government’s image.”

 

“The government has passed a law that includes a provision that penalizes the offenders who spread “fake news” in the time of COVID-19 pandemic."

 

“Despite all of this, we’re not afraid to speak our grievances to the government since this is our fundamental right as long as we follow journalism ethics.”

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Zach received negative press in The Philippines over this cartoon. The cartoon was published after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, a known critic of Philippine president

Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines was ousted from the government. 

Notes to Rabble Rouser from Marian Kamensky, 62, from the Czech Republic, now living in Vienna, Austria. You can follow his work here

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“The cartoon in 2020 is more important than ever, but due to increasing pressure to the right, newspaper makers are losing their sharpness because they also want to sell to right-wing readers.”

 

“I'm not going to censor myself, like 90% of my fellow illustrators, but it will also make me less money, especially in the US, making censorship worse and worse.”

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Notes to Rabble Rouser from Imad Sanouni, from Casablanca, Morocco. You can follow Imad's work here

 

“It was during the demonstrations of the Arab Spring in 2012, I dared to play on the red lines because I had nothing to lose and I was not looking for a salary.” Now that Imad has a family to provide for, things are different. He also tells Rabble Rouser that many newspapers that dare to speak of injustices are defunded. 

 

"As long as there is newspaper advertising the press will never be free, at least in my country. I can not criticize the government so it is censorship, if I do it I lose my salary and I create problems for my family, it's as simple as that. I think that my work scares politicians”

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Imad's interpretation of the red line he crosses every day as a satirical cartoonist living in Morocco.

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"Despots in Autumn", by Marian Kamensky.

For lesser-known journalists around the world, censorship is alive and well. Cartoonists forced to make a choice between getting paid and speaking out. Rabble rousers are not rewarded. For satirical cartoonists like Zach, Marian, and Imad, there is a price to their work - whether it be physical danger, censorship, or being forced to chose between earning a hire salary and living in complete censorship, or earning less but having (partial) editorial freedom. 

In 2020, we need satire more than we ever have before. Engage with it in your own ways whether it is a witty hand-made sign brought along to a protest, publishing your own cartoons on a site like Cartoon Movement, or finding a way to find humor in the dark and in the mundane -