Summary of A Free World Needs Satire

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Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy. Satire and political cartoons are powerful and effective ways of getting a political point across and provoking public debate, says veteran political cartoonist Patrick Chappatte. In an entertaining speech interspersed with some of his best and funniest political drawings, he warns that the growing marginalization of satire, both in democracies and populist autocracies, is no laughing matter. His thought-provoking conclusions will interest anyone concerned about the decline of meaningful political debate. 

About the Speaker

Patrick Chappatte is an editorial cartoonist for Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Canard enchaîné in France, and Le Temps and NZZ am Sonntag in Switzerland. 



Political cartoonists keep the powerful in check, and their persecution signifies the rise of illiberalism.

Over the course of his 20-year career, satirical cartoonist Patrick Chappatte has offered a social commentary on four American presidents, three popes, the Arab Spring, North Korea’s Kim dynasty, Brexit, the rise of social media, and much more. While critics believe that US president Donald Trump makes the job of political cartoonists too easy, Chappatte has found that “It’s not easy to caricature a man who is himself a caricature.” Life imitates art: For instance, after Chappatte published a cartoon of Russian president Vladimir Putin telling Trump, “I’ll help you find the hackers. Give me your password,” news broke that the two were planning to create a joint task force on cybersecurity.

The historical role of political cartoonists has been to speak truth to power. Freedom of the press is a hard-earned privilege ...

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