A political cartoon by Halifax-based artist Bruce MacKinnon has gone viral in light of the sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
The image, which originally ran in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, shows a distressed Lady Justice, on her back with a blindfold over her eyes and her scales scattered behind her. She is pinned down by an apparently male figure wearing Republican cuffs.
One hand covers her mouth while the other holds her wrist.
The cartoon was released after a U.S. Senate judiciary committee voted to advance Kavanaugh’s
Supreme Court nomination, and clearly references Ford’s account the sexual assault she alleges took place when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers.
A green light for Kavanaugh from the committee is a step for the Republicans toward confirming him as Supreme Court judge, despite the cloud of suspicion that hangs over him.
If he is confirmed for the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote on cases involving immigration, abortion, transgender troops, gay rights and voting rights.
But first, he will need to pass a week-long FBI probe into his background and the allegations against him. That probe is currently underway and was ordered after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said he would not support Kavanaugh’s final confirmation without it.
MacKinnon has made headlines in the past for his poignant, moving and sometimes controversial political cartoons. He has provided commentary on events and subjects like the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France, the murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa’s Parliament Hill shooting and the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash.
Some people, including #MeToo champion Alyssa Milano are praising MacKinnon for using his art to provide crucial commentary on sexual assault and its treatment within justice systems.
Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon – wow. I gasped, put my phone down & took a breath, then went back. I’m healthy enough to do this. If you’re not, PLEASE log off & do some grounding work. Railroading him for triggering material is counterintuitive to a piece that needs to be evocative.
— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) October 1, 2018
— Michael Kaufman (@GenderEQ) October 1, 2018
Bruce MacKinnon is an extremely thoughtful, sensitive person who doesn’t take sexual assault lightly. His cartoon is triggering; I struggled to view it. I also find it accurate and I deeply appreciate it. I don’t think everyone needs to see it. I do believe it needs to be seen.
— Ellie MacDonald (@TheBettyDick) October 1, 2018
this cartoonist from Halifax Nova Scotia … Bruce MacKinnon really gets to the heart of what's going on…this is just one of his emotional images…
— Kelly Slauenwhite (@KellyBel99) September 30, 2018
Some, however, have charged him with taking commentary too far, and warn that the image could serve as an emotional trigger for some assault and rape victims.
MacKinnon says he intended for the cartoon to remind people of the brutal reality of sexual assault.
“I understand it’s hard for people to look at, especially people who might be survivors of sexual assault,” MacKinnon told CBC News. “You can’t turn off the conversation, pretend it didn’t happen or look away.”
I don't wanna r/t because it's likely triggering to any of my followers who are survivors, but Bruce MacKinnon made the most powerful political cartoon I've seen in years today.
If you can stomach Triumph of Ferocity-esque stuff, I highly encourage taking a look at it.
— Emma Handy (@Em_TeeGee) September 29, 2018
I thought Bruce MacKinnon's editorial cartoon of Lady Justice being assaulted by the GOP was over the top. Can we talk about rape without showing it? How many sexual assault victims saw that cartoon and had to relive their own horrible experience. #brucemackinnon
— Jemison Thorsby (@TheBigBlueFrog) October 1, 2018
Some argue that the piece isn’t fair to Kavanaugh, who has not been proven guilty in a court of law.
Bruce MacKinnon seems quite ignorant of how due process works. I wonder if he had to look up the visual representation of justice. I bet he did.
— tim maguire (@timmaguire42) October 1, 2018
— Attila L. Vinczer (@AttilaVinczer) September 30, 2018