Graeme_MacKay
September 23rd 1968  (Age 51)
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Hamilton

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Random Thots is brought to you by Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist at the Hamilton Spectator, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Website: mackaycartoons.net.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
Winston Churchill

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Raising the Hammer on Satire

(Previous blog entry pertaining to Joanna Chapman)

One of my cartoons made it into Raise the Hammer, a local blog which claims that it's dedicated to providing a variety of views and approaches to the goal of making Hamilton a great city. Towards that end, we encourage readers to contribute feedback, letters to the editor, and article submissions. But really, it mostly attracts lefties who love to bash the Spectator whenever possible. Still, it often provides some well thought out commentary on local civic affairs. Here's the cartoon at the centre of the fuss:

Posted 2006/11/16, By Ryan McGreal

Graeme MacKay, the Hamilton Spectator's sharp, funny, and sometimes mean-spirited editorial cartoonist, took one last opportunity to throw a swipe at Joanna Chapman, the private citizen who did City Council's job for them and personally pursued charges against Mayor Larry Di Ianni for his violations of the Ontario Municipal Elections act.

Turning the David-and-Goliath mythos on its head, MacKay's November 15 cartoon shows a gleeful, witchlike Chapman brushing off her hands as she drops a slingshot and walks away from the giant feet of her slain opponent, who lies in repose with a "Re-elect Larry Di Ianni" sign resting against his shin.

This closes a trilogy that started with a malevolent, scheming Chapman pushing Mayor Humpty Dumpty off the wall and continued with a sorcerous (complete with black cat) Chapman monkey hanging onto Di Ianni's back.

Again and again, we see the habit of blaming the whistleblower and sympathizing with the whistleblown.

Joanna Chapman did not break or even bend the law: she enforced it. When she first raised the issue with council, they failed to do their job and launch an audit on the Mayor, preferring to close ranks around one of their own.

Di Ianni denied any wrongdoing and attacked Chapman's character until the evidence was overwhelming that Chapman was onto something, and then he switched to claiming he had made an "honest mistake".

+   +   +   +   +   +

Well, it's good that the writer noted the aptly named 'trilogy' of Joanna Chapman cartoons I've drawn over the past few months -- another benefit of posting related cartoons beneath main cartoons (editorial cartoonists take note.)

It surprises me that some are interpreting this as a swipe against Ms. Chapman. It is indeed an exaggeration to suggest that she alone was responsible for the defeat of Larry di Ianni, but I think she deserves more credit than what has been given to her in post election commentary.

As for the suggestion that I depicted her as a witch, well, that's an interesting interpretation but I usually depict witches with brooms, pointy hats and green complexions. The cat in her bag refers to her bookstore, where I dare not enter anymore due to the number of cats laying all over the place and the fact that I have a very bad allergy to furry animals.

Joanna Chapman's very determined pursuit of an audit of the mayor's campaign books became such a significant story of public interest that it simply begged for satirical commentary. Like any editorial cartoonist, I simply acted on my own in caricaturing Ms. Chapman. There is never any direction ordered upon me by some corporate media agenda as is often attached to anyone who works or writes for the Hamilton Spectator. Ms. Chapman was lampooned with the same degree of exaggeration and satire I would apply to any other local personality be they Russ Powers, Stan Keyes, Larry di Ianni, or David Christopherson. The accusation of misogyny is just plain absurd. She's a tough person, and she's British, with a good sense of how brutal British satire can be. To a few shrill complainers lacking a sense of humour and getting bent out of shape over a few tame cartoons I suggest leaning your weak kneed frames on Joanna Chapman for physical support. She knows better than to get into a big stink about harmless satire.

* * * UPDATE (November 20) * * *

Raise the Hammer raises it's hammer (& sickle) again, this time in a confusing attempt to deny that it bashes the Hamilton Spectator. (Reacting to my statement at the top of this blog entry). RTH "usually criticizes the Spec's editorial stances, not its straight reporting", writes mouthpiece Ryan McGreal. He embraced my boss Dana Robbins and his weekend column in defence of endorsement editorials like it was some sort confession that the Spectator does indeed hold some opinions. To the Raise the Hammer folks this admission of the Spec expressing opinion is really code word for possessing an evil big money pro developer corporate AGENDA. Which is crap. But the comments beneath McGreal's article only confirms what he tried to deny in the first place, that Raise the Hammer loves to bash the Spectator... but who really cares?

* * * UPDATE (November 29, 2006) * * *

Joanna Chapman wades in with her comments:

Here's an excerpt:

* * * UPDATE (February 9, 2007) * * *

Dear Graeme,

I have just returned from the International Congress on Ethics. Your cartoons were a huge success.

  My talk was 20 minutes long. The details of the case were in the first half, and I worked that section around the 4 cartoons. When I showed the final cartoon (David & Goliath) there was a burst of applause and scattered cheers. Totally unexpected. I also got a huge amount of applause at the end.

  I have spoken before, and sometimes to fairly large groups of people, and never have I received that type of response. I owe this all to you, and just wanted to thank you again. Of course, it will be all downhill from here, but never mind.

  My understanding is that the congress organizers may be publishing  a book with all the presentations. If this is the case, I will once again need your permission, because, what I said does not work without the cartoons. Of course you will probably need to see context in which I used them, but first let me know if you have any general objection.

  I did not congratulate you on your recent award, which was remiss. Belated CONGRATULATIONS!

  Thanks again,
Joanna

Posted at 11:35 pm by Graeme_MacKay

D. Shields
November 19, 2006   09:54 AM PST
 
The Spec still doesn't get it! As of the Sat. Nov. 18th, they are still scraching their heads, wringing their hands, & agonizing over Mr. D.'s defeat, & how they didn't see it coming. They weren't looking in the right places.
The last Spec. poll that I read, put Mr.'s D. & E. virtually neck & neck, (14% & 13%) with a huge undecided %age.
Didn't that tell them something, esp. since it was their own poll?
Michael
November 20, 2006   05:51 PM PST
 
D, That poll was of 100 people. It had no statistical significance whatsoever. Think about all those ipsos-reid polls of 10,000 participants and the margin of error is 1-2%. Now, what do you think the margin of error would be on a poll of 100 participants?

Essentially, those polls were meaningless.
 

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