Sense and Sensibility

Distasteful, absurd, offensive, insulting, abusive, infamous, frivolous, grotesque, unfunny and plain stupid are some of the most common adjectives that have been used to describe the cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper a few months ago. Sense and sensibility are apparently the main virtues that an editorial cartoonist should now possess. So it seems that newspapers all over the world will soon need to hire new more ad hoc cartoonists. Therefore I took the liberty of writing the following job posting to help them find the “ideal” candidate.

Well-reputed newspaper looking for sensitive and sensible cartoonists

General description:

Individuals with high moral and aesthetic standards who conform with generally held views of what is acceptable, and who can make people with little or no sense of humor laugh.

Main skills/ characteristics

  • We want people who can put themselves in the other’s shoes (think for example what a monkey feels every time it is portrayed as George W. Bush. So the rule is: if you don’t like being offended don’t offend others).
  • We are looking for candidates who have something important to say and that if they don’t they just shut their mouths and use their pens to do something useful like scratching our editor’s back. *Note: Of course, by “important” what we really mean is TRIVIAL and/or NOT CONTROVERSIAL.
  • We need thoughtful individuals that can take full responsibility for their drawings and know when and how to apologize in case they hurt somebody else’s feelings (we like the kind of guy that sends flowers or a box of chocolates with an “I’m sorry” note before things get out of hand).
  • We want well-mannered artists who don’t need to use offensive words in order to convey an idea, words such as “bastard”, “jerk” or “fluffy” for instance (YES “fluffy” can be an insult in some Central American cultures you ignorant fools!) **Note: We apologize to all the ignorant fools reading this posting for calling them ignorant fools. We also apologize to anyone who has felt offended in any way by the use of the words “bastard”, “jerk” and/or “fluffy” in this ad. You’ll soon be receiving a box of chocolates with our sincere compliments.
  • Last but not least, we need objective persons with a proper sense of proportion and perspective who never exaggerate situations and other peoples’ defects and/or mistakes (NO large noses, fat buttocks and/or overstated remarks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
  • PLEASE ABSTAIN FROM APPLYING: People who have a tendency to make caricatures about touchy subjects such as religion, politics, football or knitting. Portfolios containing criticism of senseless violence would not be considered (remember terrorists are very sensitive folks and it is our editorial policy to avoid hurting other people’s feelings). Portfolios with work relating to scientific, gender, ethnic and/or race issues would also be disqualified (for instance, we are not allowing anything having to do with evolution or the “real” age of the Earth, and we consider characters such as Speedy Gonzalez to be racists and degrading for Third World mice. ***Note: Winnie-Pooh/Bambi kind of characters will be considered, although subjected to revision by a special editorial committee as these days anything could fire political radicalism and/or become a threat to authoritarian, yet friendly, regimes).

Educational requirements:

Ph. D. (we want “smart” people only). Any field will do although fine arts and social anthropology are preferred.


At least 5 years of self-censorship experience.

Bonus points for:

Fluency in Arabic.

Candidates interested please send your resume and portfolio to our offices. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Freedom of speech is again under attack. And not just by Islamic extremists as everybody assumes. A more subtle although lethal assault is coming from an unexpected source: Western liberals. Yes, in the past weeks, I’ve heard many so-called “progressive minds” (not to mention the main “leaders of the free world”) talking about the responsibility that comes with freedom of speech. Why? Because apparently symbols matter more than actions. Iraqi prisoners being tortured by American soldiers and similar violations of human rights can trigger a few protests but mess around with sacred symbols and global outrage follows. Hell unleashes.

Lack of sense and sensibility is then the novel form of censorship and self-censorship being conspicuously promoted in the West. Thanks to fear this new constraint on freedom of speech is quickly becoming acceptable.

People have the right to feel offended and protest. Let them burn flags and shout. After all, those are also forms of expression, flags are only symbols, and threats are only words. Of course there’s also violence and that should be condemned. But we shouldn’t feel frightened. And if we do we still mustn’t shut our mouths. Freedom of speech can be inopportune, incommodious, distressing and unpleasant, that’s why it needs to be protected. Protected from the restrictions imposed by authoritarians and fundamentalists, by progressive minds or world leaders, by violence and fear, by you or by me.

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