by BK Munn
Michael de Adder, the award-winning and widely-syndicated Canadian political cartoonist, has issued a semi-apology in a series of tweets for a cartoon depicting a bound and gagged Jody Wilson-Raybould about to be beaten by Justin Trudeau.
The cartoon elicited an outpouring of criticism on Twitter and other social networks, prompting media response, and eventually a response from de Adder himself expressing regret over the image.
Recently there has been more attention paid to lazy, unimaginative cartoons the few remaining political cartoonists churn out on deadline that depict allegorical scenes of violence against women (think of all the assaulted Statue of Liberty cartoons that exist in the Trump era), and cartoonists are rightly being called out for this tone-deaf approach.
The cartoon in question is a response to the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal that resulted in the resignation of former Justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Trudeau cabinet. Wilson-Raybould is widely seen as a sacrificial scapegoat who is being prevented from revealing embarrassing details of the government’s involvement in the scandal.
The de Adder cartoon was published on February 15, and despite a nearly-identical cartoon by Graeme Mackay being published simultaneously, de Adder was immediately taken to task by readers.
After making several appearances on news programs, de Adder tweeted his response to the backlash beginning on February 16, stating “Cartoonists sometimes have unanticipated secondary interpretations in cartoons that they don’t intend. Sometimes these can affect people in a very personal way. I assure people who have supported over the course of my career that I’m not tone deaf to concerns about this cartoon. My cartoon did not intend to upset people. It was not intended to offend women, make light of domestic violence or trivialize indigenous issues. I am human, I make mistakes, I will strive to do better. I will no depict women in violent situations going forward.”
He added, “I have never stopped learning from my mistakes, I make them rather frequently. But never to this degree. I have never before been in a situation where a cartoon I drew garnered the response I have received over this cartoon. It has led to a lot of self-reflection. I will do my best to not disappoint people who I considered important supporters in the future. I will not promise that you will like every cartoon I draw. But I do promise to strive to not offend people like I did with this cartoon. Life is learning from your mistakes and I made a mistake. When I make a mistake everybody knows about it. I cant take it back, but I can do better going forward.”
De Adder is a former president of The Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists and is currently employed by The Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper.
ED: The headline has been changed since it’s first iteration, authors of the blog are free to express their own opinions on the stories under their byline always but the publisher would prefer not to either pass judgment in headlines or use expletives in that way before people have read a story. ~Max