A political cartoon by Halifax-based artist Bruce MacKinnon is headed for the United States Congressional Library’s archives, The Chronicle Herald reports.
The image, which originally ran in The Chronicle Herald on Sept. 29, shows a distressed Lady Justice, on her back with a blindfold over her eyes and her scales scattered behind her. She is pinned down and silenced by an apparently male figure wearing Republican cuffs.
The cartoon was released after a U.S. Senate judiciary committee voted to advance then U.S. Court of Appeals judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. The nomination came following a day of testimony by Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
The image quickly went viral. Nominated for inclusion in the Library’s collection of Internet material related to the women’s and gender studies by librarian Meg Metcalf, it will now be formally recognized as a piece of American history.
The Library’s purpose is to preserve the America’s culturally and historically artifacts, whether they are physical or digital.
Having the image archived by the United States government might be a first for MacKinnon, but he is no stranger to acclaim and controversy. The artist has made headlines in the past for his poignant, moving and sometimes provocative 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.
Following the release of his Blasey Ford-Kavanaugh cartoon, some people, including #MeToo champion Alyssa Milano are praised 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 said 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 argued the piece was unfair to Kavanaugh, who was never 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