It got us talking

2008-09-11 00:00

Like the great Zapiro, I too am a satirist. Of course, I’m not fit even to rip my head off and offer him my neck full of blood to use as ink for his pen, let alone compare myself to him, but still — we’re both in the same business, more or less.

A satirist is someone who, unlike most other journalists, can get away with telling the truth. There’s no “allegedly” in satire, no “it was suggested”, no “a source close to the president said”. There’s only the truth and a dollop of humour.

Well, that’s not true for my satire, unfortunately. I use the odd “allegedly” here and there, because I can’t be bothered sitting bemusedly in courts as high-priced lawyers defend the good name of criminal bastards. And I’m a coward. But it is true for Jonathan “Ballpoints of Steel” Shapiro, a man who has the courage of his intelligence and the steadfastness of his convictions.

By now, you’ve all seen his recent cartoon of Jacob Zuma. It shows Zuma about to rape the justice system, with the help of his sycophants from the ANCYL, the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu (the Acrognomes, as they’re known down at the corner pub). Well, it doesn’t actually show Zuma, it shows some idiot with a shower growing out of his head, which Zuma supporters tell me is Zuma. Who am I to disagree?

Is this good satire? Some might say no, but it sure is painstakingly accurate documentary realism. Others will say it insults Zuma, as if this is a criticism.

Blah blah blah, you’ve read all the letters to the press, heard the bleating on talk radio, skimmed the wordy analyses by political commentators. And this is the point, really — Zapiro’s cartoon has got everyone involved, because what it says is unambiguous and easily understood. And what it says is, Zuma and his Acrognomes are raping our justice system for their personal advantage.

There are no greys in Zapiro’s cartoon, only black and white. Which is a criticism that some people have levelled at him. Police and Prisons Civil

Rights Union spokesperson Benzi Ka-Soko, for example, “challenged Zapiro to draw something centring on whites’ hold over most of the land in South Africa and judges handing down racist judgments”.

Zapiro has exposed white racism many times before, of course, but leaving that aside — it’s hardly his fault that freedom has meant that there are now as many corrupt and self-serving blacks as there are mean-spirited, racist whites. Hey, that’s progress. We’re all equal-opportunity bastards nowadays, praise the revolution.

Ka-Soko’s other criticism of Zapiro’s cartoon is that, “bluntly put, the cartoon says Zuma and the alliance are bad for South Africa because they are rapists. In a more graphic way, the cartoon depicts Zuma and his comrades as beasts who think through their penises and that women are never safe near these ‘animals’”.

I hate to be the one to point this out to him, but justice is not in fact a woman, but a metaphor.

The cartoon suggests that Zuma and the Acrognomes are bad for South Africa because they’re screwing with our justice system, not because they’re raping a woman. (Although that does remind me of something. No, it’s gone.)

And there’s no mention of animals in the cartoon — Zapiro is saying something far more insulting, which is that Zuma and his comrades are men. Bad men. Bad men who are conspiring to do damage to South Africa, to us.

It’s a simple message. You can either agree with it or not. Or you can spend time debating the aesthetics, tone and suitability of the way Zapiro chose to make his point, and when you’re finished doing that, you’ll find yourself living in a country where justice is a whore and the ruling party is her pimp.

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