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Satire Under Siege

Peter Wierenga

Satire involves the use of humor to ridicule and shame people or institutions. It’s a potent tool for exposing society’s ills, especially when it comes to politicians and other powerful people. It's the perfect way to take them down a peg or two. That’s the power of satire. But all over the world cartoonists, stand-up comedians and satirical artists are facing repression from their governments or even violent attacks have occurred, like the attack on Charlie Hebdo five years ago. What are the biggest threats to satire today? Journalist Peter Wierenga analyses the roots of the Western concept of satire, from Greek theater in the ancient times to satirical pamphlets during the Renaissance, to twentieth century Monthy Python jokes. He also delves into how satire functions today in different countries, from China to Brazil and from Kenya to the USA. 

Peter Wierenga is a writer and freelance journalist. He holds a masters degree in classics and writes mainly about politics, philosophy and the freedom of speech. For his latest book Raak! (Amsterdam 2019, Boom publishers), Wierenga interviewed several prominent cartoonists about their current ordeals.

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