Credo: Martin Rowson

Political cartoonist and author, 49
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The Independent Online

I believe...

It is one of our inalienable rights to be allowed to laugh at our political leaders. I don't feel guilty about portraying them as monsters or buffoons because I think it's good for them. The countries least tolerant of satire and cartoons are all tyrannies and despotisms.

Political cartoons are more complicated than people think. They are a kind of voodoo, doing damage at a distance with a sharp object – a pen in this case – in order to discomfit the powerful and bring comfort to the readers.

Religions are ideologies like anything else. I no more accept the ideology of a god than I do that of the Liberal Democrats.

"The function of journalism is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." This quote by the American journalist HL Mencken is my mantra.

The idea that life is random, meaningless and chaotic is very comforting. It means that as a human being I have a duty to live my life in a thoughtful, responsible way because I am answerable for my actions rather than dependent on the caprice of a higher authority.

Talking bollocks over a few glasses of wine is one of life's great pleasures. Pets give people more comfort than religion. The two have a lot in common: they are both human inventions intended to reflect back our irrational love for them – but pets do a better job.

Laughter makes life bearable. That's why even after the most appalling tragedies, in private discourse people will immediately begin to tell jokes about the event, and there's no reason why they shouldn't.

'The Dog Allusion' by Martin Rowson (Vintage, £6.99) is out now in paperback

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