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People on Twitter are outraged by a political cartoon depicting Christine Blasey Ford demanding roses, sparkling water, and a bowl of green M&M’s ahead of the testimony she’ll present to the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday. Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers.
The Indianapolis Star newspaper published the cartoon in its print edition and online on Sunday, causing an eruption of anger and disappointment on social media, according to BuzzFeed News.
People criticizing the cartoon on Twitter said that the depiction of Ford only discourages others to come forward in cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
@indystar decided to give the thumbs up on publishing this Gary Varvel cartoon. Things like this are why women don't report their assaults. I understand posting different political views so you can show Indianapolis how "unbiased" you are but this is appalling. Do better. pic.twitter.com/andeqkIaYq
— Bri Schneckenberger (@brischneck) September 24, 2018
@indystar, you should be ashamed for allowing this to run. I, along with thousands of other Hoosiers, are utterly disappointed in this “cartoon” depiction.
THIS is why so many people don’t come forward.
I believe Professor Christine Blassey Ford. Shouldn’t even have to say it pic.twitter.com/haoI5na7ja
— Haylee Kristina Joy (@hayleekjoy) September 24, 2018
— Nathaniel Bell (@nathanieltbell) September 24, 2018
People also said the cartoon made light of sexual assault by comparing Ford’s demands for a fair trial to lavish requests.
Hey @indystar this cartoon is shameful! How dare u mock a sexual assault survivor. Mocking her demands for a fair trial as wanting roses & sparkling water?! Sick makes me rethink my subscription pic.twitter.com/B8OE0Gafka
— Taylor Moore (@taycmoore84) September 24, 2018
This is a disgrace. I’ve come to expect the worst from Gary Varvel, but never making light of sexual assault. @indystar should have never printed this and should condemn it now. This discredits and disrespects the great journalists that work there, let alone victims of assault pic.twitter.com/46MIcLVXfT
— Adam Burtner (@Adam_Burtner) September 24, 2018
— Kathleen O'Malley (@kbomalley) September 24, 2018
Gary Varvel is the political cartoonist who drew the picture of Ford. Apparently, some people had previously canceled their Star subscriptions because of Varvel’s cartoons.
I canceled our @indystar subscription after his Thanksgiving cartoon a few years back. Will gladly subscribe again the minute he’s no longer on staff.
— Sarah (@swalter14) September 24, 2018
— Hawthorn Fire (@hawthorn_fire) September 24, 2018
Readers demanded Varvel apologize, while others want him fired.
— Fire Rokita (@FireRokita) September 24, 2018
I’ve been a subscriber and fan of @indystar for years. You owe your readers an apology for the @varvel cartoon today. It demeans the subject, the reader and your talented staff.
What say you @tswarens? Others? Time to speak up.
— Katherine Broecker (@KJBroecker) September 24, 2018
@indystar Today's editorial "cartoon" was beyond disgusting and constitutes hate speech. Varvel should issue a full page apology and make a donation to the Julian Center. Shame on him and the Star for allowing this.
— Sylvia Socks (@SylviaSocks) September 24, 2018
The Star’s executive editor Ronnie Ramos apologized in a column on Monday, writing that “readers deserved better” and that the cartoon “did not meet [their] high standards.”
Ramos also stated that Varvel wasn’t aiming to discredit Ford and quoted him in the column. “My cartoon was focused only on Ford’s demands, not on whether she was telling the truth,” Varvel said. “As a husband and father of a daughter and granddaughter, I take sexual harassment very seriously.”
Still, people called the cartoon “horrendously stupid,” “tone deaf,” and “misogynistic.”
This isn’t @varvel’s first horrendously stupid and offensive cartoon, but it should be his last. He panders to the base fears of people even more poorly informed than himself. Why does @indystar still publish this? https://t.co/AnmWdVg2q8
— Tyler & The Electric Mayhem (@TylerLClark) September 24, 2018
— Amy Lynch (@mostlymidwestrn) September 24, 2018
@indystar Your choice of cartoons mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is highly offensive, misogynistic and NOT reflective of Hoosier values…SHAME ON YOU! Your readership deserves an immediate apology.
— Laura E. Hess (@LauraEHess2) September 24, 2018
But a few defended Varvel. One user said that the cartoon only addressed Ford’s “methods” and not accusations sexual assault.
Haha! You people crack me up. Woman brings unsubstantiated allegations from 36 years ago then demands conditions under which she will testify. The cartoon mocks her methods not all sexual assault. Give me a break.
— Dr Steve (@Dr_Yankovich) September 24, 2018
I thought this cartoon was spot on. Democrats are using her to delay the vote
— Becky Bechtel (@BeckyBechtel) September 24, 2018
H/T BuzzFeed News
Sunny Kim studies journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She's an editorial intern with the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in the Daily Texan and Popular Mechanics.