Re: “Cartoon was crass given Thai-Saudi relations are already on thin ice”, Have Your Say, yesterday.
Somsak Pola clearly understands the grave implications of assassinating a journalist, one presumes for merely doing his job. I am quite sure that the reporters working for The Nation do, too. In discussing the editorial cartoon depicting a Saudi man reassuring a uniformed Turkish officer that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by his own volition, and not in various items of luggage, Pola informs us that this representation on October 11 tries to “sever” (now there’s an unintentionally instructive word) Saudi-Thai relationships, without one scintilla of proof. Dearie me, heaven forfend that an aspirational democratic project like Thailand should offend the sensibilities of an autocracy.
We are further apprised by Pola: “let me tell you this: a great joke is one that not only provokes laughter from readers but also from the butt of the joke. Do you think Riyadh is laughing?”
I seriously doubt that anyone is laughing, including folks in Qatar and Yemen. In the context of this overtly political sketch, and in the finest traditions of this kind of journalistic expression, no comedic element is shown or intended. There is, however, a clear message that seeks to offer a visual articulation of atrocity. It is timely here to remind Pola of Charlie Hebdo, and Danish cartoonists, in particular.