Saturday, June 7, 2014

Toronto Sun Cartoon Sparks Controversy

Andy Radia in Yahoo Canada.

There's a saying in the political cartoon business that goes something like this: "If you're not spurring controversy, you're not doing your job very well."

Andy Donato of the Toronto Sun certainly created some controversy earlier this week for a cartoon which depicted Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne after getting metaphorically pummeled during Tuesday night's debate.

The image caused a stir on social media.

Even the New Democrats complained in an email blast to their supporters:
Much of the time, the Toronto Sun is straight up. Sometimes it's over the top. Today it landed in the gutter.
You know that I am a fierce critic of my opponents.
But even in politics, some things are fair game and some things are off limits.
It’s fair to say that Kathleen Wynne hasn’t stood up for Ontarians against Liberal corruption for the ten years she’s been in government.
It’s fair to point out that she couldn’t run from her record during the televised Leader’s debate.
And it’s fair to state strongly that she doesn’t have what it takes to be our next Premier.
But it’s never, ever acceptable to mock violence against women.Because there are lines we should never cross.
In response to the criticism, the Sun issued a statement essentially telling readers, and the NDP, to relax.

"Cartoonists use satire and exaggeration to make a point," their Editor-In-Chief Wendy Metcalfe said.

"In commenting on the virtually unanimous opinion that Premier Kathleen Wynne had a tough time in the leader’s debate, cartoonist Andy Donato used imagery he has used many times in the past to portray politicians caught up in tough political fights — including Mayor Rob Ford.

"The cartoon has nothing to do with, and in no way endorses, violence against women."

And, to be fair to the Sun, other newspapers also published cartoons of Wynne taking a beating.

Here is an illustration in The Windsor Star by Mike Graston showing the Liberal leader getting hit over the head with mallets.

Does that cross the line?

Are people being just a little overly sensitive?

Wes Tyrell, who is part of Canada's close knit cartoonist fraternity and Yahoo Canada News contributor, says he's not surprised at Donato's "provocative" picture.

"He had to know when he was [drawing] that he was probably going to take some shots for it," Tyrell told Yahoo Canada News.

In terms of 'crossing lines,' Tyrell says each cartoonist must decide that for him or herself in concert with a newspaper or online editor.

"It's a weird fine line you've got to go on. There are some people that believe if you're not being extremely provocative, then what are you doing?" he said.

"There are others in the business as well, who like to believe that you have to have some level of control so as not to cross over the taste boundaries because there's kind of a dividing line between the mainstream press and stuff that would be relegated to...underground."

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