Steve Bell has been offending people for decades.
The problem with Steve Bell’s foggily unfunny attempts to satirise the SNP / Sturgeon / Salmond, is that cutting-edge political satire depends on an intimate knowledge of the political scene: and too-evidently, Steve Bell is too ignorant of Scottish politics to be able to provide any of his usually fine satire.
The Guardian readers’ editor thinks that Bell is satirising “the roots of nationalism, not people, and he uses 18th century weapons of caricature”, and the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent tweets “we also defended the right of Charlie Hebdo to offend and @GdnScotland should not censor @BellBelltoons either”.
When discussing a political cartoonist who used to do cutting-edge satire that was funny because it was true, the key issue is not “is he offensive?” but “is his satire any good?”
Steve Bell isn’t coping with the change that requires him to learn about Scottish politics in order to satirise them. It would be kinder to let him go on sabbatical, rather than let him display his copelessness in public, but as Bell himself was never kind, why demand kindness for him?
This isn’t about censorship. This is about quality.
Afterthought: the alarming thing for those of us who are (or were) Steve Bell fans is that if the polls are borne out and 40+ SNP MPs go to Westminster and Labour is perforce obliged to enter a Lab/SNP coalition, there will be unprecedented opportunities for satire – all of which it seems Steve Bell plans to throw away because he seems to think “ha ha Scottish people” is sufficient for a joke.