Finnish Shame, Finnish Humour

There’s an  article published on the English pages of Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper (also known as Hesari) about Finnish shame. An interesting point was made about the way that Finns sometimes use drinking as an excuse for bad behaviour:

“In Finland it is possible to alter the boundaries of shame with alcohol. Someone who behaves badly while intoxicated can later write everything off by attributing it to being drunk.”

I was wondering whether Reetta Meriläinen, Editor in Chief of Helsingin Sanomat, will fall back on this excuse when she comes  to explain how ‘Hesari’ took the decision to publish not just one, but two cartoons as part of the Fingerpori strip trying to make a joke about the Nazi Holocaust. I am not going to reproduce the  cartoons here — I feel that however much exposure they’ve already had is enough. But for my readers outside Finland, I will try to summarise them.  I apologise for the offence that this will  cause anybody who happens to hold the view that there’s nothing funny about genocide.

The first cartoon (published on 4th May 2010) which had the caption “Berlin 1945” shows a German soldier looking at a packet of soap which has the label which I can best translate as “Free-range Jew”.  The joke which might have  evaded some readers is based on disputed reports that  the corpses of the men, women and children who were gassed in extermination camps were used for making soap.

Of course whether the Nazis really did manufacture soap from the bodies of Jews, Roma and homosexuals is kind of beside the point here. Apparently the cartoon was some kind of comment on animal cruelty. But after a number of complaints to the newspaper, the cartoonist, Perti Jarla decided to delete the cartoon saying,

It was not my intention to ridicule the victims of the Nazis or of Hitler’s grotesque Germany itself, in hindsight I consider my strip unsuccessful.

One might be tempted to suggest that as an exercise in human-cruelty (i.e. cruelty to humans) the cartoon was a absolute success. It would certainly cause immense pain to Holocaust survivors and their partners and children.

But maybe, Helsingin Sanomat feels it is not their responsibility to place the feelings of 1,000 Finnish Jews and 10,000 Finnish Roma above more important things like…er…like… (someone help me out here, pliis!). However, since  no one is claiming that the cartoon was published in order to make a point against Jewish or Roma or gay people, one might reasonably ask why they should be the brunt of the joke at all.

Jarla’s apology turned out to be rather like the sarcastic “sorry” said by a teenager who is forced to apologise to his little brother who he has just hit in the face. The second punch came last Saturday (22.5.10) with a three-panel strip which this time has remained on Helsingin Sanomat’s site. Personally, I find it almost as unfunny as the last but if you wish, you can make up your own mind by clicking here.

(My advice is don’t look if, understandably you are easily upset by this sort of thing.)

Here’s the English translation:

First Panel: We’ll be receiving Israeli guests soon…you can present your project.
Second Panel: I can give them a taste of this Bavarian beer concentrate.
Third Panel: (in English) — Now you get a taste of German concentration lager.

The use of lager is a pun, since lager is the German word for “camp”. Hence the Final panel shows apparently Jewish rather than Arab Israeli’s being offered a taste of ‘concentration camp’.  Presumably Helsingin Sanomat decided that it was  more polite to use Israeli rather than Jewish – rather like saying “excuse me” before kicking your victim in the teeth.

So why do I think that Helsingin Sanomat should have decided not to publish these cartoons? After all, Finland has a free press and artistic expression should know no bounds.

Well, for what it’s worth I don’t feel angry at Pertti Jarla, the creator of  Fingerpori. After all artistic responsibility is something of a contradiction in terms. But editorial responsibility is not. The job of a newspaper editor is  to ensure that her publication does not slander people, does not incite hatred and does not cause gratuitous suffering — either to those who have been starved and tortured  or to those who mourn those who have died.

If anyone says that the cartoons are in bad taste or even down-right offensive I would agree with them but say that this is not the point. Sometimes writers and artists cause offence and sometimes for a good reason. Those who offended Hitler and Stalin were right to to do so. But I can see no justification for anyone ridiculing and humiliating the victims of massacre and genocide. It seems to me that if you do this, you side with the perpetrators.

Maybe I’m being a bit dense here, but looking at the cartoons, my first reaction was what a great day for Neo-Nazis everywhere. Goebbels well understood the power of cartoons. Berlin in the 1930’s was plastered with posters carrying grotesque caricatures of Jewish people as a way to encourage contempt and so as to justify the Nazi Party’s attacks on Jews. And surprise, surprise the Helsingin Sanomat cartoons have already popped-up on  right-wing, anti-immigration blogs.

And this is the main point. From where I write, on a small island off the North-West coast of Europe, we have just seen off an electoral bid by the far-right British National Party. They hoped to take control of the council in Barking and Dagenham but the good people of East London sent them packing, and they  lost all twelve of the council seats they held.

My friends in England can’t make any sense of my telling them that a “respectable” Finnish newspaper — enjoying a near-monopoly position as Finland’s only national Finnish-language broadsheet newspaper — has printed cartoons ridiculing holocaust victims. To explain Helsingin Sanomat’s position and its claim to be objective, I describe it as being thought of as like the Times, Telegraph and the BBC rolled into one. The sad fact is that what is acceptable in Helsingin Sanomat is acceptable in Finland. And maybe this explains the bizarre fact that there has been so little public outcry about this from decent Finnish people.

Helsingin Sanomat is not (despite what many Finnish people might say) a fascist newspaper. Nor do I think that Finland is a racist country. But there is one stereotype about the Finns which does contain a grain of truth. Finnish people don’t say much.

There’s a joke about two Finnish men in a bar. After two hours of silence one of them says, “Kippis!” (cheers!)

His friend looks him in the eye and says, “Hey. Did we come here to talk or to drink?”

Maybe now’s the time for Finns to talk a bit louder. I think it would be appropriate for people who oppose the Helsingin Sanomat line to speak up. After all being able to speak up is a real privilege, and one  that we might not have tomorrow.

The letters to the editor of Helsingin Sanomat should be addressed to:  hs.mielipide@hs.fi

Or, the Editor-in-Chief: reetta.merilainen@hs.fi

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34 responses to “Finnish Shame, Finnish Humour

  • Unberable lightness « Jees Helsinki Jees

    […] is also used as a routine excuse and evasion of responsibility for inadmissible behaviour, as a thoughtful blogger has pointed […]

  • JeesHelsinki

    Dear Instant,
    Thanks for the explanation of the cartoons – from what I can work out, quite a few people are already totally switched off by Hesari for all sorts of reasons, so many people who might have reacted appear not even to have seen the cartoons. Which doesn’t alter the fact, though, that Fingerpori’s books are best-sellers at the moment and that his multi-layered but disgusting work has incited rantings that can only be considered racist and anti-semitic. I’m working on my complaint.
    Yours,
    JHJ

  • Toby

    I’ve banged on about this at tedious length in the past, but there remains a real insensitivity to jokes about race (and other forms of “otherness”) amongst Finns. For a long time I just chalked it up to ignorance and 80 year history of much isolation, but there’s an “anti-PC”, “we’re talking truth to power” self righteousness to it now in some cases. I think this is a response to the rise of immigration as a political issue in the last decade.

    • instantkaamos

      Thanks Toby

      I think I’m just learning how much ignorance there is about the holocaust and about racism in general. How ironic in a country that’s so proud of its education system.

      What’s starting to worry me is what happens to Finland’s image once these cartoons appear in a newspaper in London, New York…or Tel Aviv.

  • no to stereotypes

    There is actually quite a discussion going on about the cartoons (eg on the HS website), so Finns are not just all quiet.

    • instantkaamos

      I’m very relieved to hear it. Can you post a link to the discussion forum please?

      I’d also like to hear whether any Finnish public figures are speaking out about this.

  • JeesHelsinki

    Sorry everyone, what follows is really even more upsetting, not a relief.

    Having looked briefly at some of the comments on the HS site I’m even more horrified. In addition to peddling angry ignorance that really doesn’t reflect well on a country that prides itself on its education, the HS discussion also includes people who see themselves as progressive yet who claim that jews are a minority whose ridicule has been avoided but now they should be fair game along with all the other groups. They shouldn’t whine. Much is also made of religion. Seems that the persecution of jews never required active religious observance, but correct me if I’m wrong.

    Not that I wanted to trawl through the lot, but I didn’t spot anything at all about the fact that the newspaper went ahead and published another cartoon in exactly the same vein 2 weeks later. Sickening.

    P.S. I try to understand, I really do. I came across an argument somewhere that the rise of religious fundamentalism (include in that strident xenophobia?) has much to do with the impotence that the formerly working people of western countries experience now that their lives are so precarious or lacking work.

    • instantkaamos

      Thank you Jees for doing the research. If you have a minute, do post a link here. I was rather hoping that someone who speaks better Finnish than I do will post a link to this blog on the Hesari site. On the other hand if I am going to attract the cream of Finnish idiocracy then maybe I’d rather not. Who was it who said, “with every idea the brain gets more intelligent, with every online comment, the internet gets more stupid?”

      All the same, if Hesari is in some way representative of Finnish society then maybe it’s necessary to bring bigots out into the open so reasonable humane people can refute their arguments.

  • Mertsi

    I, for one, never read Fingerpori, because I don’t like it (so, yes, i did read it once, a long time ago). But I didn’t know they have this kind of “humour”, as terrible as this. Very sorry to hear that and ashamed, again, to be a Finn. I noticed there’s on page of Fingerpori on Facebook as well and thought that the first “jokes” I read were either distasteful or else I just have no sense of humour.

    The problem with Hesari as well as with some of our MP’s is that they are thought to represent us as a nation. But somehow, I never fit into those categories, because I don’t like everything that there is on Finnish newspapers or television, but we only have a couple of major newspapers here, so what do you do. I only read Hesari for free on the Internet now, because, for many reasons, I wasn’t happy about it. The same goes for MP’s, there’s only a couple that I think are honest and fairly ‘ok’. Yet, they all represent the whole nation, in a sense only, however.
    I write many comments to many articles in Hesari and other media as well, but in Finnish.
    Personally, btw, I don’t even know any people, who talk about drinking the way you described above. But I admit there are people like that. But the same goes for many other countries. It’s amazing what kind of things actually are shown on tv even on these days. I was watching a Danish sitcom, a favourite of mine, once and was astonished to see and hear some of their “jokes” that were certainly racist. All in the name of comedy, of course.
    By the way, I never knew anyone outside Finland would even care what we say, do or think. Most foreign people don’t even seem to know there is a country called Finland.

  • no to stereotypes

    [Link to discussion on the Helsingin Sanomat webiste about the Fingerpori cartoons] http://tinyurl.com/37nq63k

    • no to stereotypes

      I don’t believe Jarla’s intention was to insult the victims of genocide. Unfortunately some people might read the cartoons on such a naive level and therefore the way of making his point is certainly questionable. In the first cartoon the point is to make visible the disastrous concentration camp-like conditions “tehotuotanto” (meat-producing industry) animals suffer from. In the second cartoon the intention is actually to attack the fascism that is visible in society today plus mock the Finns inability to translate properly from Finnish into English. Other Fingerpori cartoons comment on prostitution, racism, discrimination of disabled people, environmentalism and other societal issues. Always in a risky way and even distasteful, but often spot-on.

      • instantkaamos

        Thank you for explaining this so clearly. I was very careful in my post to say that my argument was not with Jarla but with Reetta Meriläinen, Hesari’s Editor in Chief. Artists can be as creative as they like. Editors consider what will be the likely effects of what they publish. And, correct me if I’m wrong, Meriläinen has yet to apologise or to explain her decision.

        I really don’t believe that Jarla gets to just insert his cartoons into the the newspaper just before he goes to press. Somebody is paid good money to make the decision whether print it. And anyone with any experience of working in the media would know that such subtle nuances will be missed by people who are attracted to Neo-Nazi movements. That is perhaps why the cartoons are being displayed on far-right websites

        I somehow doubt that the cartoons are appearing on websites promoting love, peace and friendship between different peoples. And when others around the World begin to see these cartoons they will draw their own conclusions about the attitude of the Finnish press.

  • instantkaamos

    Since writing this article, I have discovered that Helsingin Sanomat is not the first newspaper to publish cartoons about the holocaust.

    It turns out that the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri got there four years before Finland. They actually announced a competition to find the 12 “best” cartoons about the Holocaust.

    Full story http://tinyurl.com/394bhok

    I wish to point out that I am in no way suggesting that Finland wishes to occupy a similar position in the international community to that held by Iran. But, I can understand that some less informed observers might draw that mistaken conclusion.

  • Mertsi

    I must have joined this blog by mistake. I didn’t know this was a blog for pointing out faults in Finland and Finns as a nation. I didn’t know Finland was the one and only enemy of mankind, while all other countries are so pure and innocent. Or is there a similar blog for Mexico, Britain, Russia, Sweden etc.? Apologies for my grave mistake, will unsubscribe in a minute. Have fun! Hope you don’t need to live in Finland / visit Finland unless you enjoy it (in a not masochistic way). I don’t like it either, but have no choice – friends and family happy to stay here, you see. All racists, of course, although I never knew before.But then, I must be stupid, bloody Finn as I am.

    • instantkaamos

      Hei Mertsi,

      Anteeksi. En halua sanoa mitään huono. Tukaan suomesta ja minun vaimoni on suomaläinen.

      But because I am myself rather stupid, too stupid to learn your beautiful but difficult language yet, I will continue in English.

      I am sorry. I don’t want to say anything bad about Finland. I like Finland and I am married to a Finn.

      And this is exactly why I feel so sad about these cartoons. If you take the trouble to look back through this blog, you will, I hope recognise me as someone with a deep affection for Finland. For example, read my post about Finnish Independence Day http://wp.me/pE7ON-2V

      I am sorry that my way of writing is often, as we say in Enlgland, ‘Taking the micky’. I do that about everyone. And it is only because I appreciate so much about the country — I even like salmiakki — that I care enough to sometimes criticize what goes on there.

      Of course I could criticise other countries but the only thing I know about Mexico is that they make great food. On the other hand, I truly believe that Finnish people are highly intelligent (look at the PISA ratings) and for a country of less than 6 million punches far above its weight in terms of musicians, designers, photographers, artists, writers and philosophers. What’s more Finnish libraries are stunning and well used — and that to me is the real mark of a civilized and intelligent society.

      It is exactly because of this that I am so baffled by the behaviour of the editor of Hesari. Given that the cartoons will cause completely unnecessary offence and encourage neo-Nazis, what was she thinking of? If you re-read my post, you will see that I didn’t even blame the cartoonist. I certainly didn’t blame the entire population of Finland.

      I apologise again if I haven’t made myself clear. The nation that gave us Sibelius, Edelfelt, Von Wright, Westermarck, and Tove Jansson deserves a better editor of its national newspaper than Reetta Meriläinen. And if someone can persuade me that I’m wrong about that, I’ll apologise to her too.

  • Mertsi

    Hi instantkaamos

    Sorry, misunderstanding. I didn’t mean you, I meant what I have seen on this blog by others – I’ve only seen, what’s been here since 25th of May. I understand what you’re saying, and no, I don’t like racism either. (But there’s another side to that as well, although I shouldn’t really say it, not here anyway.) I don’t like what hesari is doing either. There are many things I don’t like about hesari. Fingerpori is one of them. It’s humour, but Jarla’s really taking a big risk here. Maybe he wants to become famous and be the next theo-van-gogh. Who knows. I am a Finn. And I don’t love Finland. I just don’t think that all the evil of the world resides in this boring little country. You don’t think so. But some other writers of this blog might. And it’s none of my business. So, farewell. Btw, I love England! I know it’s not a perfect country. But I’ve lost my heart to Whitby. I’ve only been there once for four days and it was raining every day.

    • instantkaamos

      Mertsi

      Ei se mitään. No worries.

      But I do have to disagree with you about saying that Finland is boring. I have been visiting your country since 2000 and I find it fascinating, bewildering, complex, beautiful and personally, I’m rather infatuated with the country. That’s why most of what write in this blog is about Finland.

      (By the way, I think it might rain in Whitby almost every day of the year and that’s why the town’s symbol is a duck — so don’t take it personally!)

  • Mertsi

    Hi again

    I’m glad you like Finland, some people do! I love England. A lot of that has to do with having really close friends there.

    Have fun! I’m off now.

  • leesa

    well, amazing what you can get away with, with a joke. Maybe it’s a macho editor thing, ‘see how brave I am to insult victims, ha!’ And it works, clearly, if people are talking about it. That’s a conundrum it’s hard to get out of.
    But it’s one thing to do tasteless cartoons in satirical magazines, another to do them in mainstream media, which play a central role in democracy. I wonder if they’d be brave enough to publish something blasphemous against, oh, maybe democracy, or christianity, or laestadians. Yawn.
    Or maybe it’s a young editor, too young and naive to understand what war is. someone else’s war is easy to make a joke of. If the editor’s mother had died in a concentration camp, maybe he’d think otherwise.

  • ajamais

    Thanks Instant Kaamos, its satisfying to read such concentrated ire at the editor who publishes such awful cartoons but whilst I admire your good grace in defending in principle the artist’s right to be irresponsible I also think its fair and even necessary to excoriate bad art. This cartoon is embarrassingly, clunkingly, leadenly unfunny as well as being hideously offensive and in my opinion the cartoonist should be accountable; not for being offensive but for being rubbish.

  • instantkaamos

    Kiitos / Thanks leesa and ajamais for your comments.

    I had to google Laestadians — I take it that this church is powerful enough in the Nordic counties that any newspaper that insulted them would pay for it in cancelled subscriptions and lost advertising revenue. I guess, 1000 Jews and 10,000 Roma in Finland are too small a market to care about.

    I’m glad ajamais that I’ve managed to get across that it’s the editor not the cartoonist who should carry the can for this. As for whether the cartoons fail on the funniness test, I guess that’s completely subjective. Jarla clearly thinks that he’s a funny, groovy kinda guy who ‘gets with it with the kids’ as you can see by his Facebook photo:

    http://tinyurl.com/pertti-jarla

    (If this photo is another Pertti Jarla, I apologise for any distress caused)

  • look again

    Jarla’s cartoons do NOT mock Jews or Roma, they do in fact mock Nazis and racists. Maybe it takes Finnish skills to understand them, but that is exactly what they do. And if you understand the opposite, then you are wrong. They certainly do that in a risky way and one can disagree about whether that is ok or not, but they for sure are NOT racist.

    • JeesHelsinki

      Meanwhile “immigration-critical” discussion boards seem to be very fond of these strips. They would appear not to appreciate that the joke is on them. Or perhaps Fingerpori strips just are plays on words and mean nothing whatsover at all.
      It would be wonderful to wake up to the days before I’d ever heard of Fingerpori, but I’m afraid this all tells us something very sad about the country I call home.

      • otto

        Some translated quotes from Pertti Jarla’s interview in Image 04/2009

        “As a target of humour nazis are great. They take themselves so seriously that they become a laughing stock. But when you start thinking too much about concentration camps, it’s not fun anymore”

        And about Pekka Siitoin:
        “There’s something fascinating his shocking stupidity from the beginning to the end. Everything that I’ve read about him is just shocking. His books are like long letters to the editor written by a madman. He’s done really important work for anti-fascism.”

        “People like Pekka Siitoin are harmless, but these immigrant-critics are scary.”

        doesn’t sound like a racist to me. Sorry for the english but i hope the point is still there after the translation.

  • An outsider

    Whatever the cartoonist’s intent, these cartoons cause offence.
    Article 1
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
    (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
    Fail to feel the spirit of brotherhood here.

  • KGS

    Instantkaammos misrepresented the Tundra Tabloids in this post. The TT is not anti-immigrant and the onus is upon Instakaamos to provide the evidence for such a ludicrus claim.

    The reason the TT took the time to blog the story behind the making and publishing of the cartoon is because it’s so relevent to the issues of the day, self censorship, double standards and the media blowing it bigtime.

    The Cartoon in question was not placed within any context, which the TT dutifully did, taking the extra effort to enquire from Finnish Jews there first immediate reactions ect..

    The HS was guilty in not propely vetting the drawing, and the cartoonist for failure in not supplying the context.

    The main issue here is that there were no Jews seen rioting in the streets of Helsinki smashing windows of the HS, nor issuing death threats against the cartoonist….unlike the many members of the ROP who riot at the drop of a hat.

    • instantkaamos

      Hi KGS,

      Thanks for putting this straight although having a picture on your site of what looks like an imam holding a pig hardly seems to be a clear expression of goodwill to all humankind. You also (probably by mistake) call for support for a Dutch politician who is on record as saying that the Koran, which he called a “fascist book”, should be outlawed in the Netherlands. So please excuse me if I make the mistake of thinking that your avowed support for freedom of expression might be, well, rather confused.

      Perhaps you would like to write a post on your blog making plain your deep respect for Muslims culture and making it clear that the vast majority of Muslims are not extremists and make a valuable contribution in the non-Muslim countries where many of them live.

      No need to prove your credentials of tolerance here. This is after all, one rather insignificant person’s blog about Finland — a nation which has a strong tradition of tolerance towards its Muslim minority going back to the first Tartar immigrants arrival in the nineteenth century.

      • instantkaamos

        Following a complaint from the site owner who is clearly very hurt by the accusation of being “anti-immigrant” I have removed reference to Tundra Tabloid from the original post. Don’t worry, I don’t feel my free speech has been curtailed — I decided that this was the responsible thing to do.

        It is not for me to prove or to disprove whether another blog is anti-immigrant or simply anti-Muslim or anti-immigration. To be honest, I think this would be (as the Finns say) like sawing a comma.

        But I really don’t want this discussion to become sidelined into an exchange of insults between extreme islamists (who don’t represent anyone but themselves) and islamophobes. If anyone can tell me where these two parties are having a reasoned debate, let me know. Otherwise, I assert my freedom as editor to keep the discussion to the matter in hand.

        Maybe I should also delete my reply to KGS — the editorial board of the Instant Kaamos Collective will be meeting to discuss this as soon as we can pull ourselves together.

  • Hopper Stone

    Point of order:
    Judaism is a religion and a culture. Israel is a state. Jew and Israeli are not interchangeable terms. So referring to someone as Israeli as opposed to Jewish has nothing to do with being polite; it’s simply a distinction between 2 things. Not all Israelis are Jewish and not all Jews are Israeli. It’s as simple as that.

    • instantkaamos

      Hopper, I am so glad you pointed that out. Tell me if I am wrong but about 25 per cent of Israeli’s are not Jewish and the overwhelming majority of Jews live outside Israel.

      But the point I was making (rather facetiously) was that by using Israelis rather than Jews in the cartoon, the cartoonist appeared to be deflecting potential accusations of anti-semitism. Now Hesari’s editor has cleared this up — as you see from her reply, the cartoon was designed as an apology for the previous one although perhaps, an apology that could have been made more clearly. So I freely admit that I was wrong.

  • rigth...

    This blog kind of reminds me about the Danish comic about Muhammad and the Southpark episode which they had to withdrawn. And uptight people who find everything offensive.

    Sometimes comedy can be a bit distasteful, but as long as the purpose of it isn’t to hurt the group it is targeted at or ridicule a tragic event, I really don’t understand the need for censorship. I’m not saying you have to like it or you can’t voice your opinion about it, but I think it’s kind of absurd that when a comedy strip reminds us of the horrific event that happened long time ago, we should just quickly censor it and forget all about it…

    • instantkaamos

      I was wondering when the Danish cartoons were going to come up! I think there is a difference here — the Hesari cartoons did not offend a religion but the memory of the victims of genocide, not to mention the elderly, living survivors of the death camps and their families. As another commenter has mentioned, Hesari would never print cartoons making fun of Finnish war veterans and I am sure you would agree that to do so would be pointlessly hurtful to people who have suffered enough. (I hope I’m not mistaken about this.).

      But I know what you mean about uptight people finding everything offensive. I remember when ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ came out and some Christian groups were running around, trying to get it banned. Of course, they just made themselves look silly and the film became a classic.

      But I make no excuses for thinking and saying that jokes about genocide are offensive even if the intention is to make fun of the murderers and not the victims. It is partly because some readers might not be able to make the subtle distinction that such cartoons can be misunderstood by people who are drawn to far-right groups.

      And I don’t understand the need for censorship either. It’s entirely up to the editor of Hesari to decide what they print but I do think that we should be free to criticise her decision and to ask her to justify it. And you can’t tell me that I haven’t allowed Reetta Meriläinen, her free speech by publishing on this blog her (uncensored!) explanation which you can see on the post I published yesterday.

      I wonder if Hesari are planning to offer their own critics the same amount of space on the pages of their newspaper.

  • Osku

    Instantkaamos, you have completely and utterly misunderstood Pertti Jarla and Fingerpori. In fact, I find it hard to believe that a person as smart as you seem to be could get it so wrong and not see the point. He isn’t making fun of Jews who died on concentration camps. He’s making fun of modern people, you and me, who buy themselves a spotless consciousness by purchasing “ethical” products. The nazi in the strip buying “Free Jew’s Soap” is you or me buying “Free Hens’ Eggs” and feeling like a savior of the world.

    Is it a grotesque allegory? Definitely. And that’s exactly why it’s so effective.

    “Men are happy to be laughed at for their humor, but not for their folly.”

    “Where I am not understood, it shall be concluded that something very useful and profound is couched underneath.”

    – Jonathan Swift

    Oh, and as for Finnish war veterans, Fingerpori has already “made fun of” them and the almighty Marshal Mannerheim himself too, in the same way as it has “made fun of” Jews, so your argument does not hold. Those strips were not withdrawn or even fussed about, because they weren’t about Jews, who are under special protection of Political Correctness Inc.

    • Instant Kaamos

      I totally and utterly deny that I am smart and many of those who have commented on this blog will testify to my stupidity.

      But thanks Osku for the explanations and the quotations by Swift, a man who knew a thing or two about satire. I’m glad that as this progresses, the discussion is getting off the red-herring of censorship and more focused on the key questions. One of these is, are there any limits to what is acceptable as a subject for humour? You’re not the first person who has pointed out that the Fingerpori strip has included war veterans, and I suppose my question would be, are the veterans laughing? If not, does anyone care?

      I don’t know much about political correctness. In the UK we had the backlash against political correctness without ever having had political correctness itself. But it seems that if there is a PC Inc (or even ‘PC oy’) then it can’t count for much in Finland if a national newspaper could even contemplate publishing these cartoons.

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