Is satire about freedom of expression or about the freedom to laugh? Should we as the public be so eager to laugh that we seek entertainment from any and everything?
Judge Albie Sachs, points out that laughter has its context. “It can be derisory and punitive, imposing indignity on the weak at the hands of the powerful.”
That is where the challenge lies for satire. It can parody a subject but also potentially cause offense.
Where do we draw the line on what can be commented on and by who? If we restrict certain individuals from speaking about or depicting certain subjects, we are infringing on their freedom of expression. But on the other hand, are we are infringing on the others right to human dignity when we allow others to continuously poke fun at things they hold sacred?
Unfortunately, not even our courts have the answer.
In 2013, Zapiro drew a cartoon that depicted Lord Ganesha – as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) – offering money to Cricket SA (CSA) in return for the sacrifice of its chief executive, Haroon Lorgat. Hindus were offended by this image and the Zapiro and the Sunday Times were taken to court on charges of hate speech. However, the ruling judge found them not guilty and said in future they should proceed with caution.
This asks the question of whether we should then hold some religious symbols above others? If we ban newspapers from depicting the Prophet Muhammad, should that also apply to Jesus Christ? If we do that, are we then not infringing on the artist’s right to expression and the audience’s right to laugh at anything?
The only thing we know for sure is that there are limits to satire, but how does one draw that line? Dario Milo tells us the legal restrictions that do exist. Listen here for more information…