Political art and cartoons have long been used to illustrate articles or as standalone pieces, particularly if they poke fun or crack jokes at the expense of conservatives. Apparently, liberals don’t like it when this formula is used against them.
A few recent images by a conservative cartoonist triggered outrage and a boycott after being labeled “transphobic” by some Twitter users.
The Washington Post came under fire last week for publishing political cartoons that some called transphobic. Conservative cartoonist and illustrator Mike Lester was demonized by hundreds of social media users after his work was published.
The first of the two images labeled “transphobic” features a stripper popping out of a cake – -the typical and almost overused “bachelor party” image. The punchline, though, was something new. Labelled “The Mueller Report”, the cartoon features two servers stating:
“Wait till they find out that’s a dude.”
This punchline was enough to send users on Twitter over the edge, and many complained about the inclusion of the piece or about the artist and publication.
Replies rushed in, including:
“Really, @washingtonpost? Is that necessary?”
“They’ve actually posted two #transphobic Mike Lester cartoons this month. At this point it’s no longer an oversight, it’s a pattern, and the @washingtonpost needs to own up to it.”
“It’s not just bigoted; its punchline is so transphobic that the comic only makes sense to readers who also think trans women are secretly men in drag.”
The second cartoon is more politically charged, and showcases the plight of girls in high school and women in college and professional sports. The image shows a transgender athlete running many paces ahead of female runners. The girls being left behind say: “I identify as a girl who just wants to compete with girls. Me too.”
This image is inspired by recent reports of men with mediocre records when competing against other males dominating races and securing coveted team positions when switching to playing and competing against girls and women instead.
Some viewers were so outraged that they threatened to boycott the publication or cancel subscriptions entirely. Twitter users were quick to tag the Washington Post and complain.
Responses from the Washington Post sent mixed messages. First, the paper explained that political cartoons were used as a form of expression and did not represent the opinions of the publication itself. When the reminder about free speech was not lauded, the paper backpedaled to stating that the cartoonist was not their employee, and seemed to claim that the cartoon never appeared in their own publication at all:
“We do NOT run Mike Lester’s cartoons in The Washington Post, and this one in particular was not published anywhere in our pages. We employ two full-time cartoonists, Ann Telnaes and Tom Toles.”
Lester is part of a syndication group that places images, illustrations and cartoons in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post and has made no comment on the outrage over his work.
~ Liberty Planet