Zapiro in Hot Water Over Second Rape Cartoon

Zapiro Zuma Rape Lady Justice ANC
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Our good friend from South Africa, cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (who goes by the pen name “Zapiro”) has found himself in hot water once again over a recent cartoon he drew showing South African President Jacob Zuma preparing to “rape” a woman labeled “Free Speech”.

In the cartoon for the Mail & Guardian newspaper (pictured on the right), Zuma is shown unbuclking his belt, while African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe holds a woman depicting press freedom. Lady Justice is also drawn, and shouts: “Fight, sister, fight!!”

It draws parallels with a controversial cartoon Zapiro drew back in 2008, depicting Zuma, complete with trademark shower-head, unbuckling his belt as he prepared to rape the figurative Lady Justice. Zapiro and the Sunday Times where the cartoon appeared are currently being sued by the government for 5 million Rand (about $730,000).

“Careful thought was given to it,” Zapiro said of the most recent cartoon. “I discussed it with the editor (Nic Dawes) as I always do when a cartoon has the potential to be explosive.”

“We are disgusted by the cartoon,” ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu told the Mail & Guardian. “We believe in the freedom of the press and freedom of expression and we can’t stop people expressing their opinion. It is the [cartoon’s] depiction more than the message.”

What do you think? Is the cartoon fair, or does it cross the line? Comment below and let us know.

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

7 replies on “Zapiro in Hot Water Over Second Rape Cartoon”

Political speech is fair, and if the government truly has an issue with what the cartoon is representing then they must fight it with actions rather than legal action.  Governments which claim to be true democracies must tolerate all speech even if they consider it to be wrong, be it a cartoon expressing the political opinion of a person or a placard equating a leader to be Hitler-esque.  Democracies are ruled by the rational, despite what people hear, and John Stuart Mills sums it up best when he says that truly hateful, wrong, or evil speech will always drown in the sea of rational thought. 

Does it cross a line? Maybe, I don’t know anything about South African politics so I can’t really say. If I were to assume it was totally offensive (imagine an Obama preparing to rape a man labelled “small business” while Reid holds him down, or Boehner preparing to rape a woman labelled “middle class” while Cantor holds her) I think it would be finde for the government to condemn it, as well as for responsible media to do the same. However unless it contained an unmistakable physical threat of violence, it would never be warranted for it to be persecuted legally. Condemn it all you want (that too, is speech) but shutting it down, through legal action or threats, is unacceptable.

Will they trample on his right to free speech in order to protest his depiction that they object to the right to free speech?

Will they trample on his right to free speech in order to protest his depiction that they object to the right to free speech?

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