Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Death by satire

Published:Friday | January 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I wanted to commend Dr Carolyn Cooper on another outstanding column, 'Death by Satire in Paris', which I believe is one of the best commentaries she has written to date, with its subtle innuendos and all.

I hope Dr Cooper is not peaking too soon with her writing, as I really enjoy her columns. The timing of her visit to Paris, which coincided with the recent tragedy at Charlie Hebdo, made the piece even more interesting, considering it was just a few weeks ago Dr Cooper was the centre of major controversy with KC Old Boys, about a single satirical piece written to poke fun at and make a point about their decision to exclude women from their annual reunion dinner.

I particularly enjoyed how the column began, with an innocent cultural visit to one of the world-famous museums, The Louvre.

Personally, I believe free speech comes with a sense of responsibility, and media may sometimes struggle to find the right balance.

Some things are just not in good taste, ethically, morally and otherwise. I don't believe any outlet should encourage bullying. It is one thing to be critical and express a voice, an opinion about a matter, and satire is certainly one way to do it.

But when you target certain individuals, groups, repeatedly with constant attacks, name- calling, taunts, insults, at some point you're bound to get what is expected, a reaction. Charlie Hebdo has repeatedly targeted the Prophet Muhammad in some very offensive cartoons.

Freedom of speech, yes, but at what cost? Perhaps its best image so far is the cartoon Charlie Hebdo used for the memorial issue, depicting the Muhammad shedding a tear, with the words "Tout est pardonne" (All is forgiven).

A powerful, yet simple and very moving message, without any offensive antics.

There was nothing satirical about this image, and it is thought-provoking. I'm glad to hear that as many as three million copies were published for circulation worldwide. We can be critical and poke fun, but in the end, we remember that tolerance and respect are positive virtues.

P. Chin