Cartoonist Jonathan ‘Zapiro’ Shapiro was a speaker at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering on Wednesday, where he gave a talk on his work, only to be taken to task by audience members for what some saw as insensitivity.
Once audience member cautioned the cartoonist, who has been at the centre of several social media storms, one of the most significant being a cartoon in which former NPA boss Shaun Abrahams is depicted as a monkey, to “not depict black people as animalistic”.
@manofcolor_ raising great points at the #10XDMGathering about how @zapiro needs to be more considerate of the context of this country and it’s history before using rape metaphors and depicting black people as animals.
— King of Leon. (@MightiJamie) August 15, 2018
The cartoonist, who courted controversy but also garnered praise with a series of cartoons depicting ‘lady justice’ being raped, was also advised to “be more considerate of the context of this country and its history” before making use of rape metaphors.
While some were supportive of those taking Zapiro to task, with one Twitter user saying before the talk he was “keen to see if anyone is going to highlight the racial and gendered nature of his work”, others slammed what they saw as an attack on freedom of speech.
Ridiculous! Is it that "the truth hurts" or "if the cap fits wear it"? What about we all take a good, hard and honest look at ourselves. And then lighten up a bit. That's Zapiro's job. Go to it Mr Zapiro. "Res ipsa liquitor".
— shanselah (@shanselah) August 15, 2018
One Twitter user advised Zapiro’s critics to “lighten up”, while another said it was Zapiro’s “job to offend”.
At The Gathering, Zapiro also said there was only one cartoon he would erase if he could, not because he felt it was wrong, but because of the timing. He did not say which one.
He also noted the ‘lady justice’ cartoon that caused the controversy made it on to a BuzzFeed list of 15 Historic Cartoons that Changed the World.
#10XDMGathering | I'm keen to see if anyone is going to highlight Zapiro's racial and gendered nature of his work.
— mpho a. ndaba (@Manofcolor_) August 15, 2018
— Nadine (@nadine_sims) August 15, 2018