Straitjacket cartoon inappropriate, Toronto Star public editor says - iMediaEthics

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Toronto Star (Credit: Toronto Star)

The Toronto Star published a cartoon depicting politician Lisa MacLeod in a straitjacket.

That was inappropriate, Toronto Star Kathy English reported. “Given MacLeod’s public revelations of some three years ago that she had suffered from depression, for me, that cartoon crossed the Star’s line of taste and appropriateness, even with the wide latitude provided to editorial cartoonists,” English wrote. “To appear to make fun of anyone’s mental-health struggles — or to draw stereotypes that can contribute to the stigma of mental illness — should simply be a no-go zone.”

MacLeod is the Ontario Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister. The cartoonist and Star editors “who okayed the cartoon” didn’t know MacLeod previously said she had depression.

The cartoonist, Michael de Adder, is the same one who lost his gig with another Canadian news outlet after his cartoon of Pres. Donald Trump. Canada’s Brunswick News Inc. denied his contract was axed because of the Trump caroton.

De Adder told iMediaEthics, “If I knew she had a history of mental illness, I wouldn’t have drawn it.” He said he’s drawn straitjackets twice in the past 15 years, and will not draw people in straitjackets again.

“The last thing I wanted to do after losing a job over my cartoons was to rock the boat with another cartoon scandal. People are saying I look for trouble. That is not what I strive to do with my work,” de Adder wrote. He said he wants his cartoons to inform and be “memorable” but “I do not strive to be unfair or to hurt people with my cartoons.”

“I will not draw people in a straightjacket anymore,” de Adder e-mailed iMediaEthics. “I will not draw people being taken away by men in white suits. I will ask myself before I draw a concept if the cartoon is dealing with the facts and it not making a personal attack. Or be misconstrued as such.”

De Adder continued:

“The goal posts are being moved on every issue in society not just mental health issues. And as responsible editorial cartoonist we can’t fall back on the old tropes anymore. This isn’t the first lesson I’ve learned this year but I do hope there aren’t many more lessons to learn in the future. I will strive to be better in in doing so be a better cartoonist. “

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Straitjacket cartoon inappropriate, Toronto Star public editor says

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