By: Carlos Ncube
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting.” Judith Lewis Herman
Cartoonist Zapiro has again found him on the other side of political criticism. this time for a cartoon similar to his 2008 ‘The Rape of lady justice’. However, this time around it is South, bring held down, about to be raped by what appears to be an Atul Gupta, following after President Jacob Zuma who has already satisfied himself to lady Justice.
The responses from people have varied, from some saying that Zapiro is justified in using rape as a metaphor and other expressing outrage at the insensitivity of the Cartoon towards survivors of rape.
Those who are in defense of him have this to say:
@Powerfm987 I agree with Zapiro, Zuma continues to rape this country. What he’s doing is disgusting and rape is the best way to explain it
— Linda Nkabinde (@LindaNkabs) April 11, 2017
— Theo the Ninja™ (@Yung_TheoLogySA) April 11, 2017
I honestly dont see anything offensive with #Zapiro ‘s cartoon. ppl just sensitive over crap.
— Tebogo Letshwiti (@tebogoletshwiti) April 11, 2017
There are suggestions that the ourage being expressed by people is selective because rape is used in television productions and nobody speaks out against it.
#GenerationsTheLegacy is busy with a serial rapists scenes,you aren’t making an uproar about promoting rape but Zapiro is attacked.
— Sundowns_Fanatic ⭐ (@Solomon_Madube) April 11, 2017
Those who oppose the Cartoon have said:
Zapiro at it again: lazy, unimaginative, literal & no regard for careful, sustained engagement by many with his use of this rape analogy. pic.twitter.com/2wuF8pqZV4
— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) April 11, 2017
— Roberto Cassaredi (@mdunuse) April 11, 2017
— Vincent (@MluuVincee) April 11, 2017
Some have even suggested that the cartoon borders racism because lady justice is depicted as a black woman
Thr wr various cartoons that #Zapiro culd use to get his point accross without using a black woman as an object of inhumane acts.
— Sibu…⏪ (@_Mabuda) April 11, 2017
What to consider
Based on the views expressed on twitter, there is no clear middle ground determining whether or not Zapiro is wrong because people opinions stretch into two extremes of the discourse of satire.
As agreed, satire is a powerful social political especialy in a country like South Africa that enjoys the freedom of speech as it is protected by the constitution of the Republic. however, Zapiro is no stranger to controversy, and rape is a serious social issue.
Using rape as a metaphor in satire is a trigger for survivors. Rape cannot be subjective no matter the context in which it happens. there are some survivors on twitter who have stated that Zapiro is not wrong in depicting what president Jacob Zuma is doing to the country as rape.
The disdain around the cartoon shows that freedom of speech should have limitations in the form of self-censorship, especially if it will offend on the basis of current and on-going social ills such as rape.
Explicit TV rape vs Rape the metaphor.
The other question that arises is: what is the difference between a TV drama depicting rape and a cartoonist doing the same thing?
When rape is shown on TV it is explicit and it is depicted for what it is either as a way to drive the plot and character development or as a social awareness campaign around the issue.
whereas it’s depiction by Zapiro, is for the purposes of highlighting the extent to which an individual is corrupt and the individuals actions are equated to the violent crime of rape.
Both depiction are triggering, and the Catch-22 is that satire is not always intended to be funny. However, the callousness in the manner in which Zapiro is Crayon happy about rape is very concerning, it makes him look insensitive and socially and politically ignorant.