PC Stalinism: the EU bans cartoons critical of the EU

In a move totally unsurprising to anyone who has been paying attention, the EU has shown its authoritarian colours by banning cartoons from one of its own exhibitions. British MEP Catherine Bearder has censored a dozen satirical cartoons intended for an exhibition celebrating 60 years of the EU. Reports show post-its marked with big crosses stuck on cartoons critical of Brussels.

The censored cartoons, drawn by French and Greek cartoonists, include one showing different EU countries at the starting line of a car race. Beneath the banner ‘Multy-speed Europe [sic]’, Germany is depicted by a giant Porsche, Italy is a tiny Fiat and Greece is a chariot pulled by a pensioner. A sharp and accurate observation of the status quo, if you ask me.

The exhibition titled ‘EU turns 60: A Cartoon Party’ is due to be displayed in the European Parliament for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty. Bearder, a Liberal Democrat, is the ‘quaestor’ (MEPs dealing with administrative issues) in charge of the exhibition. She and her fellow quaestors rejected 12 of the 28 cartoons because of their ‘controversial content’. There were also reports Bearder was concerned that cartoons critical of Angela Merkel might affect the German election, despite the election taking place before the exhibition was due to open.

Organisers of the exhibition, European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) MEPs Stelios Kouloglou and Patrick Le Hyaric, have written an open letter to the European Parliament president Antonio Tajani protesting against the censorship and demanding that Tajani ‘stand with democracy’. Kouloglou said: ‘Political humour and satire are an essential part of democracy since Aristophanes’ times. They censored our exhibition under the pretence of it violating European values, but freedom of speech is the fundamental value of the European Union…Therefore, Mr Tajani has to decide whether he stands with the quaestors’ decision or with democracy’.

The EU has turned into a parody of its illiberal itself. That some MEPs thought they could get away with criticising the Brussels bureaucrats is strange, since the EU has often made clear its disdain for criticism. Just look to the referendum re-runs in countries who dared to vote against it. And, more recently, EU technocrats have responded to Brexit with spite and thinly veiled threats. Michel Barnier wants to ‘teach’ the British a lesson. Jean-Claude Juncker said this month that the UK will ‘soon regret’ leaving the EU. The EU doesn’t allow criticism and opposition.

Most Brexiteers knew long before the EU referendum that the Brussels clique hold democracy in little regard. And those who weren’t aware can surely be in little doubt now. So, will Tajani ‘stand with democracy’ over censorship? Fat chance.

Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants. Follow her on Twitter: @Naomi_theFirsht

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