'I gasped, put my phone down...': Controversial Canadian cartoon makes U.S. history

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.

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.”

Some argued the piece was unfair to Kavanaugh, who was never proven guilty in a court of law.

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