Irony (from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning hypocrisy, deception, or pretended ignorance) is a literary or rhetorical device, in which there is an incongruity or discordance between what one says or does and what one means or what is generally understood. Irony is a mode of expression that calls attention to the character's knowledge and that of the audience.
There is argument about what qualifies as ironic, but all senses of irony revolve around the perceived notion of an incongruity between what is expressed and what is intended, or between an understanding or expectation of a reality and what actually happens: the literal truth is in direct discordance to the perceived truth.
Types of irony
These modern theories of rhetoric distinguish between three types of irony: verbal, dramatic and situational.
Verbal irony is a disparity (不一致) of expression and intention: when a speaker says one thing but means another, or when a literal meaning is contrary to its intended effect. An example of this is sarcasm.
Dramatic irony is a disparity of expression and awareness: when words and actions possess a significance that the listener or audience understands, but the speaker or character does not.
Situational irony is the disparity of intention and result: when the result of an action is contrary to the desired or expected effect. Likewise, cosmic irony is disparity between human desires and the harsh realities of the outside world (or the whims of the gods). By some definitions, situational irony and cosmic irony are not irony at all.
Verbal irony, including sarcasm
Verbal irony is distinguished from situational irony and dramatic irony in that it is produced intentionally by speakers. For instance, if a speaker exclaims, “I’m not upset!” but reveals an upset emotional state through her voice while truly trying to claim she's not upset, it would not be verbal irony by virtue of its verbal manifestation (it would, however, be situational irony). But if the same speaker said the same words and intended to communicate that she was upset by claiming she was not, the utterance would be verbal irony. This distinction gets at an important aspect of verbal irony: speakers communicate implied propositions that are intentionally contradictory to the propositions contained in the words themselves. There are examples of verbal irony that do not rely on saying the opposite of what one means, and there are cases where all the traditional criteria of irony exist and the utterance is not ironic.
Ironic similes are a form of verbal irony where a speaker does intend to communicate the opposite of what they mean. For instance, the following explicit similes begin with the deceptive formation of a statement that means P but which eventually conveys the meaning not P:
as hard as putty (油灰, 腻子)
as funny as cancer
as clear as mud
as pleasant as a root canal (根管) treatment
"as pleasant and relaxed as a coiled rattlesnake"
The irony is recognizable in each case only by using stereotypical knowledge of the source concepts (e.g., mud, root-canal surgery) to detect an incongruity.
A fair amount of confusion has surrounded the issue regarding the relationship between verbal irony and sarcasm, and psychology researchers have addressed the issue directly. For example, ridicule is an important aspect of sarcasm, but not verbal irony in general. By this account, sarcasm is a particular kind of personal criticism leveled against a person or group of persons that incorporates verbal irony. For example, a person reports to her friend that rather than going to a medical doctor to treat her cancer, she has decided to see a spiritual healer instead. In response her friend says sarcastically, "Great idea! I hear they do fine work!" The friend could have also replied with any number of ironic expressions that should not be labeled as sarcasm exactly, but still have many shared elements with sarcasm.
Most instances of verbal irony are labeled by research subjects as sarcastic, suggesting that the term sarcasm is more widely used than its technical definition suggests it should be. Some psycholinguistic theorists suggest that sarcasm ("Great idea!", "I hear they do fine work."), hyperbole ("That's the best idea I have heard in years!"), understatement ("Sure, what the hell, it's only cancer..."), rhetorical questions ("What, does your spirit have cancer?"), and joke ("Get them to fix your bad back while you're at it.") should all be considered forms of verbal irony. The differences between these tropes can be quite subtle, and relate to typical emotional reactions of listeners, and the rhetorical goals of the speakers. Regardless of the various ways theorists categorize figurative language types, people in conversation are attempting to decode speaker intentions and discourse goals, and are not generally identifying, by name, the kinds of tropes used.
Dramatic irony is the device of giving the spectator an item of information that at least one of the characters in the narrative is unaware of (at least consciously), thus placing the spectator a step ahead of at least one of the characters. Dramatic irony has three stages —installation, exploitation and resolution (often also called preparation, suspension and resolution) —producing dramatic conflict in what one character relies or appears to rely upon, the contrary of which is known by observers (especially the audience; sometimes to other characters within the drama) to be true.
In City Lights the audience knows that Charlie Chaplin's character is not a millionaire, but the blind flower girl (Virginia Cherill) is unaware and believes he's rich.
In Cyrano de Bergerac, the reader knows that Cyrano loves Roxane and that he is the real author of the letters that Christian is writing to the young woman; Roxane is unaware of this.
In North by Northwest, the audience knows that Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is not Kaplan; Vandamm (James Mason) and his clergymen do not. The audience also knows that Kaplan is a fictitious agent invented by the CIA; Roger and Vandamm do not.
In Oedipus the King, the reader knows that Oedipus himself is the murderer that he is seeking; Oedipus, Creon and Jocasta do not.
In Othello, the audience knows that Desdemona has been faithful to Othello, but Othello doesn't. The audience also knows that Iago is pulling the strings, a fact hidden from Othello, Desdemona, Cassio and Roderigo.
In Pygmalion, the audience knows that Eliza is a woman of the street; Higgins's family does not.
In Cask of Amontillado, the reader knows something bad is going to happen to Fortunato; Fortunato is oblivious.
In I am the Cheese，the reader knows that Adam is in a mental hospital, and that he was in a car crash, but Adam does not.
Tragic irony is a special category of dramatic irony. In tragic irony, the words and actions of the characters contradict the real situation, which the spectators fully realize.
Ancient Greek drama was especially characterized by tragic irony because the audiences were so familiar with the legends that most of the plays dramatized. Sophocles' Oedipus the King provides a classic example of tragic irony at its fullest.
Linda Hutcheon suggests that, by removing the semantic security of the one signifier, one signified equivalency, irony threatens authoritative models of discourse.
Irony has some of its foundation in the onlooker’s perception of paradox which arises from insoluble problems.
In the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo finds Juliet in a drugged death-like sleep, he assumes her to be dead and kills himself. Upon awakening to find her dead lover beside her, Juliet kills herself with his dagger.
This is a relatively modern use of the term, and describes a discrepancy between the expected result and actual results when enlivened by 'perverse appropriateness'.
When John Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, all of his shots initially missed the President; however a bullet bounced off the bullet-proof Presidential limousine and struck Reagan in the chest. Thus, a vehicle made to protect the President from gunfire was partially responsible for him being shot.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a story whose plot revolves around irony. Dorothy travels to a wizard and fulfills her challenging demands to go home, before discovering she had the ability to go back home all the time. The Scarecrow longs for intelligence, only to discover he is already a genius, and the Tin Woodsman longs to be capable of love, only to discover he already has a heart. The Lion, who at first appears to be a whimpering coward, turns out to be bold and fearless. The people in Emerald City believe the Wizard to have been a powerful deity, only to discover he was a bumbling eccentric old man.
After astronaut Gus Grissom's first flight into space, the hatch on his spacecraft accidentally blew off while Grissom was waiting for a rescue helicopter to fish the capsule out of the ocean, causing the capsule to fill with water and sink and Grissom to nearly drown. The hatch system was re-designed in later spacecraft to prevent similar accidents, and, while training for his third spaceflight, a fire broke out inside Grissom's spacecraft, causing Grissom and two other astronauts to suffocate. The hatch redesign triggered by the accident with Grissom's first spacecraft, meant to help save astronauts' lives, prevented Grissom from being rescued in the subsequent fire accident.
In Minority Report, John Anderton is the Police Chief of Precrime (a system predicting murders and identifying victims and killers) and discovers that he will kill someone, however he runs (to avoid imprisonment and prove his innocence) from the system he wanted to work for after his son was kidnapped and presumed dead. Also, it's later revealed that Precrime Director Lamar Burgess underhandedly murdered the mother of the precogs otherwise Precrime would've never existed. Burgess committed murder to start Precrime, which was created to stop murder.
Satire is often strictly defined as a literary genre or form; although, in practice, it is also found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, ideally with the intent to bring about improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour in itself so much as an attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves, using the weapon of wit.
A very common, almost defining feature of satire is its strong vein of irony or sarcasm, but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, and analogy are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. The essential point, however, is that "in satire, irony is militant". This "militant irony" (or sarcasm) often professes to approve (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist actually wishes to attack.
The word satire comes from Latin satura lanx and means "medley, dish of colourful fruits" —it was held by Quintilian to be a "wholly Roman phenomenon". This derivation properly has nothing to do with the Greek mythological figure satyr. To Quintilian, the satire was a strict literary form, but the term soon escaped from its original narrow definition.
Satire (in the modern sense of the word) is found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, and media such as song lyrics.
The term is also today applied to many works other than those which would have been considered satire by Quintilian — including, for instance, ancient Greek authors predating the first Roman satires. Public opinion in the Athenian democracy, for example, was remarkably influenced by the political satire written by such comic poets as Aristophanes for the theatre.
Satire and humour
Satirical works often contain "straight" (non-satirical) humour — usually to give some relief from what might otherwise be relentless "preaching". This has always been the case, although it is probably more marked in modern satire. On the other hand some satire has little or no humour at all. It is not "funny" — nor is it meant to be.
Humour about a particular subject (politics, religion and art for instance) is not necessarily satirical because the subject itself is often a subject of satire. Nor is humour using the great satiric tools of irony, parody, or burlesque always meant in a satirical sense.
Types of Satire
When examining satirical literature, it is helpful to understand that there are two common forms of satire: Horatian and Juvenalian.
Named for the Roman satirist, Horace, this type of satire is meant to be playful. It seeks to criticize some vice in society (often times identified as foolish rather than evil) through gentle, mild, and light-hearted humour. Tools employed in this form are wit, exaggeration, and self-deprecating (自贬的) humour. This form is often sympathetic in tone. Horatian satire is far more common in modern society.
Examples of Horatian satire: Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,” George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, and Matt Groening’s The Simpsons.
Named after the Roman satirist Juvenal, this type of satire is far darker. Unlike Horatian satire, Juvenalian satire seeks to immediately correct some evil in society through scorn, outrage, and savage ridicule. Common traits of this form are irony, sarcasm, moral indignation, and often times, humour is completely lacking. This form is very pessimistic in tone.
Examples of Juvenalian satire: Johnathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” Samuel Johnson’s “London,” George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and Stanley Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange.
Early modern western satire
The Elizabethan (i.e. 16th century English) writers thought of satire as related to the notoriously rude, coarse and sharp satyr play. Elizabethan "satire" (typically in pamphlet form) therefore contains more straight forward abuse than subtle irony. The French Huguenot Isaac Casaubon pointed out in 1605 that satire in the Roman fashion was something altogether more civilised. 17th century English satire once again aimed at the "amendment of vices" (Dryden).
Direct social commentary via satire returned with a vengeance in the 16th century, when farcical texts such as the works of François Rabelais tackled more serious issues (and incurred the wrath of the crown as a result). In the Age of Enlightenment, an intellectual movement in the 17th and 18th century advocating rationality, began the breakthrough of English satire, largely due to the creation of Tory and Whig groups and the necessity to convey the true meaning of criticism, especially true for Daniel Defoe (The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters), Jonathan Swift, John Dryden and Alexander Pope. Here, astute and biting satire of institutions and individuals became a popular weapon. Although Early Modern satire was already an established genre, Isaac Casaubon discovered and published Quintilian's writing and presented the original meaning of the term (satira, not satyr), and the sense of wittiness (reflecting the "dishfull of fruits") became more important again.
Jonathan Swift was one of the greatest of Anglo-Irish satirists, and one of the first to practise modern journalistic satire. For instance, his “A Modest Proposal” suggests that poor Irish parents be encouraged to sell their own children as food. In his book Gulliver's Travels he writes about the flaws in human society in general and English society in particular. Swift creates a moral fiction, a world in which parents do not have their most obvious responsibility, which is to protect their children from harm. Similarly, Defoe presents a world in which freedom of religion is reduced to the freedom to conform. Swift's purpose is of course to attack indifference to the plight of the desperately poor, and Defoe's to advocate freedom of conscience.
John Dryden also wrote an influential essay on satire that helped fix its definition in the literary world.
Early American satire
Ebenezer Cooke, author of "The Sot-Weed Factor," was among the first to bring satire to the British colonies; Benjamin Franklin and others followed, using satire to shape an emerging nation's culture through shaping its sense of the ridiculous.
Mark Twain was a great American satirist: his novel Huckleberry Finn is set in the antebellum South, where the moral values Twain wishes to promote are completely turned on their heads. His hero, Huck, is a rather simple but good-hearted lad who is ashamed of the "sinful temptation" that leads him to help a runaway slave. In fact his conscience – warped by the distorted moral world he has grown up in, often bothers him most when he is at his best. Ironically, he is prepared to do good, believing it to be wrong.
Twain's younger contemporary Ambrose Bierce gained notoriety as a cynic, pessimist and black humorist with his dark, bitterly ironic stories, many set during the American Civil War, which satirized the limitations of human perception and reason. Bierce's most famous work of satire is probably The Devil's Dictionary, in which the definitions mock cant, hypocrisy and received wisdom.
Novelists such as Charles Dickens often used passages of satiric writing in their treatment of social issues. Several satiric papers competed for the public's attention in the Victorian era and Edwardian period, such as Punch and Fun.
Perhaps the most enduring examples of Victorian satire, however, are to be found in the Savoy Operas of W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. In fact, in The Yeomen of the Guard, a jester is given lines that paint a very neat picture of the method and purpose of the satirist, and might almost be taken as a statement of Gilbert's own intent:
"I can set a braggart quailing with a quip,
The upstart I can wither with a whim;
He may wear a merry laugh upon his lip,
But his laughter has an echo that is grim!"
20th century satire
In the 20th century, satire was used by authors such as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to make serious and even frightening commentaries on the dangers of the sweeping social changes taking place throughout Europe and United States. The film The Great Dictator (1940) by Charlie Chaplin is a satire on Adolf Hitler. Many social critics of the time, such as Karl Kraus, Dorothy Parker and H. L. Mencken, used satire as their main weapon, and Mencken in particular is noted for having said that "one horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms" in the persuasion of the public to accept a criticism. Joseph Heller's most famous work, Catch-22, satirizes bureaucracy and the military, and is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. Novelist Sinclair Lewis was known for his satirical stories such as Babbitt, Main Street, and It Can't Happen Here. His books often explored and satirized contemporary American values.
The film Dr. Strangelove from 1964 was a popular satire on the Cold War. A more humorous brand of satire enjoyed a renaissance in the UK in the early 1960s with the Satire Boom, led by such luminaries as Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, John Cleese, and Dudley Moore, whose stage show Beyond the Fringe was a hit not only in Britain, but also in the United States. Other significant influences in 1960s British satire include David Frost, Eleanor Bron and the television program That Was The Week That Was.
Contemporary popular usage often uses the term "satire" in a very imprecise manner. While satire often uses caricature and parody, by no means are all uses of these or other humorous devices, satiric. Refer to the careful definition of satire that heads this article.
Stephen Colbert’s television program The Colbert Report is instructive in the methods of contemporary American satire. Colbert's character is an opinionated and self-righteous commentator who, in his TV interviews, interrupts people, points and wags his finger at them, and "unwittingly" uses a number of logical fallacies. In doing so, he demonstrates the principle of modern American political satire: the ridicule of the actions of politicians and other public figures by taking all their statements and proposed beliefs to their furthest (supposedly) logical conclusion, thus revealing their perceived hypocrisy. Other political satire includes various political causes in the past, including the relatively successful Polish Beer-Lovers' Party and the joke political candidates Molly the Dog and Brian Miner.
In the United Kingdom, the literary genre of satire also began to grow at the height of World War II and the years of the Cold War. George Orwell's Animal Farm marked the beginning of a political satire, with talking animals who plot to rule the world. Upon defeating Farmer Jones, they break out into an era of totalitarianism. Despite having little humour, this work is highly regarded by libraries. One of the most popular satirists in the history of British literature is the recently knighted Sir Terry Pratchett, whose internationally best-selling Discworld series has sold more than 55,000,000 copies.
In Canada, satire has become an important part of the comedy scene. Stephen Leacock was one of the best known early Canadian satirists, and in the early 20th century, he achieved fame by targeting the attitudes of small town life. In more recent years, Canada has had several prominent satirical television series. Some, including CODCO, The Royal Canadian Air Farce, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes deal directly with current news stories and political figures, while others, like History Bites present contemporary social satire in the context of events and figures in history. The Canadian website The Daily Week combines social and political satire with absurdity. Canadian songwriter Nancy White uses music as the vehicle for her satire, and her comic folk songs are regularly played on CBC Radio.
Cartoonists often use satire as well as straight humour. Al Capp's satirical comic strip Li'l Abner was censored in September 1947. The controversy, as reported in Time, centred around Capp's portrayal of the US Senate. Said Edward Leech of Scripps-Howard, "We don't think it is good editing or sound citizenship to picture the Senate as an assemblage of freaks and crooks... boobs and undesirables." Walt Kelly's Pogo was likewise censored in 1952 over his overt satire of Senator Joe McCarthy, caricatured in his comic strip as "Simple J. Malarky". Garry Trudeau, whose comic strip Doonesbury has charted and recorded many American follies for the last generation, deals with story lines such as the Vietnam War (and now, the Iraq War), dumbed-down education, and over-eating at "McFriendly's". Trudeau exemplifies humour mixed with criticism. Recently, one of his gay characters lamented that because he was not legally married to his partner, he was deprived of the "exquisite agony" of experiencing a nasty and painful divorce like heterosexuals. This, of course, satirized the claim that gay unions would denigrate the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Doonesbury also presents an example of how satire can cause social change. The comic strip satirized a Florida county that had a law requiring minorities to have a passcard in the area; the law was soon repealed with an act nicknamed the Doonesbury Act. Like some literary predecessors, many recent television satires contain strong elements of parody and caricature; for instance, the popular animated series The Simpsons and South Park both parody modern family and social life by taking their assumptions to the extreme; both have led to the creation of similar series. As well as the purely humorous effect of this sort of thing, they often strongly criticise various phenomena in politics, economic life, religion and many other aspects of society, and thus qualify as satirical. Due to their animated nature, these shows can easily use images of public figures and generally have greater freedom to do so than conventional shows using live actors.
Fake News is also a very popular form of contemporary satire, a trend led in print by The Onion and carried on by the Humour Times, and online in myriad internet sites like The Giant Napkin, Unconfirmed Sources and The Onion's website.
Misconception of satire
Because satire often combines anger and humour it can be profoundly disturbing — because it is essentially ironic or sarcastic, it is often misunderstood. In an interview with Wikinews, Sean Mills, President of The Onion, said angry letters about their news parody always carried the same message. "It’s whatever affects that person," said Mills. "So it’s like, 'I love it when you make a joke about murder or rape, but if you talk about cancer, well my brother has cancer and that’s not funny to me.' Or someone else can say, 'Cancer’s hilarious, but don’t talk about rape because my cousin got raped.' I'm using extreme examples, but whatever it is, if it affects somebody personally, they tend to be more sensitive about it."
Common uncomprehending responses to satire include revulsion (accusations of poor taste, or that "it's just not funny" for instance), to the idea that the satirist actually does support the ideas, policies, or people he is attacking. For instance, at the time of its publication, many people misunderstood Swift’s purpose in "A Modest Proposal" – assuming it to be a serious recommendation of economically-motivated cannibalism. Again, some critics of Mark Twain see Huckleberry Finn as racist and offensive, missing the point that its author clearly intended it to be satire (racism being in fact only one of a number of Mark Twain's known pet peeves attacked in Huckleberry Finn). This same misconception was suffered by the main character of the 1960s British television comedy satire Till Death Us Do Part. The character of Alf Garnett (played by Warren Mitchell), was created to poke fun at the kind of narrow-minded, racist, little-Englander that Garnett represented. Instead, his character became a sort of anti-hero to people who actually agreed with his views.
The Australian satirical television comedy show The Chaser's War on Everything has suffered repeated attacks based on misconceived interpretations of the "target" of its attacks. Most recently the "Make a Realistic Wish Foundation" sketch, which attacked in classical satiric fashion the heartlessness of people who are reluctant to donate to charities, was widely interpreted as an attack on the Make a Wish Foundation. Television station management suspended the show for two weeks and reduced the third season to eight episodes.
Satire under fire
Because satire criticises in an ironic, essentially indirect way, it frequently escapes censorship in a way more direct criticism might not. Periodically, however, it runs into serious opposition — and people in power who perceive themselves as attacked attempt to censor it, or prosecute its practicioners. In a very early instance of this, Aristophanes was persecuted by the demagogue Cleon.
In 1599, the Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift and the Bishop of London George Abbot, whose offices had the function of licensing books for publication in England, issued a decree banning verse satire. The decree ordered the burning of certain volumes of satire by John Marston, Thomas Middleton, Joseph Hall, and others; it also required histories and plays to be specially approved by a member of the Queen's Privy Council, and it prohibited the future printing of satire in verse. The motives for the ban are obscure, particularly since some of the books banned had been licensed by the same authorities less than a year earlier. Various scholars have argued that the target was obscenity, libel, or sedition. It seems likely that lingering anxiety about the Martin Marprelate controversy, in which the bishops themselves had employed satirists, played a role; both Thomas Nashe and Gabriel Harvey, two of the key figures in that controversy, suffered a complete ban on all their works. In the event, though, the ban was little enforced, even by the licensing authority itself.
In 2001 the British television network Channel 4 aired a special edition of the spoof current affairs series Brass Eye, which was intended to mock and satirize the fascination of modern journalism with child molesters and paedophiles. The TV network received an enormous number of complaints from members of the public, who were outraged that the show would mock a subject considered by many to be too "serious" to be the subject of humour.
In 2005, the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy caused global protests by offended Muslims and violent attacks with many fatalities in the Near East. It was not the first case of Muslim protests against criticism in the form of satire, but the Western world was surprised by the hostility of the reaction: Any country's flag in which a newspaper chose to publish the parodies was being burnt in a Near East country, then embassies were attacked, killing 139 people in mainly four countries; politicians throughout Europe agreed that satire was an aspect of the freedom of speech, and therefore to be a protected means of dialogue. Iran threatened to start an International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, which was immediately responded to by Jews with a Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest.
In 2006 British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen released Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan a "mockumentary" that satirized everyone, from high society to frat boys. Criticism of the film was heavy, from claims of antisemitism (despite the fact Cohen is Jewish), to the massive boycott of the film by the Kazakh government; the film itself had been a reaction to a longer quarrel between the government and the comedian.
In 2008, the cover of the New Yorker magazine was denounced as "tasteless" by Democratic party candidate Barack Obama's campaign workers. The editor David Remnick explained that the controversial illustration by Barry Blitt on the July cover was meant to be satire, and mocked the right wing's perception of the formidable couple. They were portrayed burning the flag in the fireplace of the Oval Office, with a portrait of Osama Bin Laden over their mantle, performing a fist bump. Obama wears a turban; his wife Michelle, sporting a full Afro, wears combat boots and camouflage, with a Kalashnikov assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Many people did not get the joke, and the image was quickly circulated around the world.
On March 27, 2009 HK Magazine Columnist Chip Tsao wrote an article to tease Chinese patriots and government on the territorial dispute of the Spratly islands between China and the Philippines. He disguised himself as a patriotic employer in Hong Kong who claimed the Chinese sovereignty on the Spratly islands by means of insulting his Filipino maid. He wrote, "As a nation of servants, you don't flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter". Tsao continued in his article that he gave his Filipina household help a harsh lecture and even threatening to deport her from her employment. In this article, Tsao tried to satirize the irrationality of Chinese patriots. It was widely mistaken as a racist attack to Filipinos, mainly in Filipino circles. His article received much unwanted publicity and clamor form Diplomatic and Filipino communities and the article was quickly removed from the website. HK Magazine later issued a statement saying that Mr. Tsao's column was merely meant as a satire and they apologized if it caused any insult.
In 2008, popular South African cartoonist and satirist Jonathan Shapiro (who is published under the pen name Zapiro) came under fire for depicting, then president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma in the act of undressing in preparation for the implied rape of 'Lady Justice' which is held down by Zuma loyalists. The cartoon was drawn in response to Zuma's efforts to duck corruption charges, and the controversy was heightened by the fact that Zuma was himself acquitted of rape in May 2006. In February 2009, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, viewed by some opposition parties as the mouthpiece of the governing ANC, shelved a satirical TV show created by Shapiro, and in May 2009 the broadcaster pulled a documentary about political satire (featuring Shapiro among others) for the second time, hours before scheduled broadcast. Apartheid South Africa also had a long history of censorship.