Saturday, 21 January 2017

Truthful, Not Neutral


"I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home".


Angel Boligán, Censorship, July 26, 2011.


Powerful statement of the horror implied of what we can expect from the new US presidency by Christiane Amanpour in her acceptance speech when honored with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award on November 22, 2016 by The Reporters sans frontières.

Censorship has its very own visual anatomy as proven by Angel Boligán. Note how his present cartoons are not new nor share their dates. Censorship is the key challenger to the cartoonist in everything (s)he does.

The anatomy is based on the human mouth and hand. In other words speaking out and physically attempting to halt someone from doing so. Hands are aggressors within the terminology of cartooning. When a hand is raised there is every reason to look out.

From those two elements grow a rich visual analysis before us. The mouth comes with a head; the speaker does so at a personal risk. The hand, however, tends to strike down from above. There is no identification; the clear-cut lines of a jacket sleeve state the absolutism of its power.

Still, at a closer look we may know the grounds for any power to come into being: the jacket belongs to just another lackey finding himself caught between his own thirst and his vulnerability, perhaps even his mortality:

Angel Boligán, The Censurer, February 21, 2011.


Censorship eventually transforms the human body. A transformation by way of torturous measures and therefore visible to anyone, who cares to see it.

The torture is all too easily disguised, however, from a constant state of alarm. A certain numbness sets in. Even the alarmist reaches exhaustion and then the abnormal takes on the air of normalcy.

After all, surely the despotism can go no further?

Instead we are the ones being transformed with every word that is allowed to go too far. However painful, it is a transformation so gradual that it too takes on an air of normalization to a degree that we do not see the humanoids we have become, letting a hand from above disguise itself for our mouths with a delicate thin red for lips.

This is but the beginning. Those measures were necessary, seeing we are the guilty ones. Christiane Amanpour described the dangerous slope thus in her acceptance speech:

"First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating--until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives.

Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison--and then who knows?

Just to say, Erdoğan has just told my Israeli colleague Ilana Dayan that he cannot understand why anyone's protesting in America, it must mean they don't accept--or understand--democracy! And he thinks America, like all great countries, needs a strongman to get things done!"



Angel Boligán, The Dictator and His People, January 25, 2011.
- the date would become synonymous with the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Egypt.
The inscription reads, "I am god".

Constant Vigilant Criticism. The necessary and only solution.

A constancy, which would resemble dirty campaigning on normal terms, but when the terms are not normal, the right thing to do is not balancing a positive/negative-scale. When actions should be criticized it is not the time to be printing Trump's recipe on strawberry jam or Putin's for that matter to make up for legitimate critical points. As put by Christiane Amanpour:
Angel Boligan, Controlled Speech,
October 11, 2015.

"It appeared much of the media got itself into knots trying to differentiate between balance, objectivity, neutrality, and crucially, truth.

We cannot continue the old paradigm - let's say like over global warming, where 99.9 percent of the empirical scientific evidence is given equal play with the tiny minority of deniers.

I learned long ago, covering the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia, never to equate victim with aggressor, never to create a false moral or factual equivalence, because then you are an accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences".



Angel Boligán, An Extreme Job, June 24, 2011.


Boligán has given us the portrait of the constant vigilant criticism for us to recognize. This is a hand still attached to a person daring to put her/his personal life on the line. This hand expresses inquisitiveness and the ability to listen. It wants answers. It is a hand coming from below and there is pain at stake, but with the knowledge that there would be pain in any case. This is being ripped open, but not transformed into a lackey to the despot. In this vein let us give the final word to Christiane Amanpour:

"I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth."




The cartoons shown are courtesy of Angel Boligán and must not be reproduced without his permission. The acceptance speech by Christiane Amanpour can be read in its entirety - and it is truly worth reading - here at the homepage of The Reporters sans frontières.



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