The Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) has issued a call to cartoonists around the world to flood the Dutch Ministry of Justice with emails with their cartoons – all of their cartoons. According to CRNI, the arrest of Dutch cartoonist Gregorious Neskschot has been revealed that the Dutch Secret Service has a division “dedicated to checking all the cartoons being published in the country for their political correctness” and that they have been screening cartoons since 2006. The hope is to overwhelm the now dubbed “Cartoon Police” with thousands of cartoons.
In a letter sent by CRNI Executive Director Dr. Robert Russell to the Dutch Ambassador in Washington, DC, Russell lays out the reasoning for the action.
Our organization represents political cartoonists all over the world who find themselves in trouble because of the power and impact of their work. As you can imagine, after the events of 9/11 and the 12 Danish Cartoons we have been rather busy. It comes as a surprise to find a new client, Mr. Gregorius Nekschot (his pen name) a Dutch citizen arrested and held on charges of “publishing cartoons which are discriminating for Muslims and people with dark skin.” We had no idea there were such laws in the Netherlands. Are there laws against cartoons discriminating against Christians with white skins? If not, why not? Why not just outlaw all political cartoons? Or why doesn’t the Dutch Parliament do away with laughter all together and save everybody the trouble? We thought that of all European countries the Netherlands might have learned from World War II the role that free expression plays in keeping a democracy and a people safe from tyranny, injustice and political repression. For the Minister of Justice to have released the identity of Mr. Nekschot, a journalist, in the face of very real and very serious death threats like that carried out against film director Theo Van Gogh in November 2004 is beyond comprehension. If any harm comes to Mr. Nekschot we would certainly see the Justice Minister as complicit in such action. Please convey to your government our outrage and shock that the government of the Netherlands would pander to threats of violence while appearing so helpless in defending the basic UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 rights of your citizens. At the very least, drop any charges against Mr. Nekschot and stop monitoring cartoons for politically incorrect content. It’s a fool’s errand.