'With political correctness increasingly encroaching on the right to free speech and calls for censorship of ‘offensive’ opinions on the rise, there are signs that political cartoons and satire could be next on the chopping block.
Canadian cartoonist Michael de Adder has claimed that his contract was terminated after 17 years last week by a New Brunswick publishing company – the day after one of his cartoons critical of US President Donald Trump went viral online.
The cartoon in question was inspired by the image of a dead migrant child and her father washed up on the banks of the Rio Grande last week, having drowned while attempting to cross and seek asylum in the US. The illustration depicts the man and girl lying face down in the river as Trump stands beside them with a golf club in hand, saying, “Do you mind if I play through?”
— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) June 26, 2019
In an epic-length tweetstorm, De Adder, a popular cartoonist in Canada, explained that every cartoon critical of Trump that he had submitted in the past year had been “systematically axed.” In another tweet, he linked the decision to the fact that New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is a former executive of Irving Oil – and the Irving family has a virtual monopoly on media in the province.
The Premier of New Brunswick Blaine Higgs is a former Irving Oil executive and any cartoon I drew that was slightly critical of him was systematically axed. You want to know why I was let go? I wanted to do my job as an editorial cartoonist, and they wanted me to do their job.
— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) July 1, 2019
It got to the point where I didn’t submit any Donald Trump cartoons for fear that I might be fired,” De Adder wrote, in another tweet.
Brunswick News Inc. claimed in a statement that linking the cartoonist’s termination to his Trump cartoon was a “false narrative” and said that they had been planning for some time to bring back another “reader favorite” long before the golf cart cartoon was published.
But Jeffrey Dvorkin, who heads the University of Toronto’s journalism program, told Vancouver’s CityNews that De Adder’s firing seemed to be part of a trend among newspapers of cutting cartoons due to digital age worries about not wanting to “annoy” any of their readers.'
Read more: Are political cartoons next for the axe as newspapers worry more about ‘offending’ readers?