A considerable body of academic literature has lauded political satirists as rebellious defenders of democracy and free speech against an establishment. Although satire is not always rebellious, this reputation of satirists and of satire may itself be the object of partisan capture. In this article, it is the object of capture by right-wing populists. In that respect, satire and the meta-discourse about satire can be used like any political rhetoric in gathering like-minded allies, claiming standards, and fighting opponents. With the Danish cartoons crisis of 2005-2006 and the Charlie Hebdo massacre of 2015, proponents of culture wars rhetoric added satire to their list of Western cultural legacies that needed defence against Islamic terrorism as well as left authoritarian elites who suppressed free speech through political correctness. They constructed simplistic global political dichotomies about satire, free speech, and civilisation and lifted events out of local contexts in a process of global framing. The culture war rhetoric was absolutist in support of free speech and satire on the international level. But the national level reveals the hortatory and partisan side to this rhetoric and the complexities that belie the absolutist stand. Nations are the arenas where struggles over free speech and political humour are played out.
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