Is this closure? Finally? Or the start of another round?

Exactly a month after that benighted cartoon was published, Salient have printed the next episode (see above) and a response article which highlights the services available to victims of sexual violence in Wellington. That is the good news.

The First Year’s Progress: A Response

I find myself reading this carefully-phrased article, and feeling absolutely nothing. Obviously there’s a part of me that wants to respond to the bits I don’t agree with, but who cares what I have to say? I’ve kept out of the argument on the letters page. Is this going to lead to more letters? Will people have forgotten about it after the Easter break?

I’m so very tired of this issue, and yet, unlike other commentators, I can’t step away. I can’t just pop up and say something defamatory, wrong, unsubstantiated, malicious, bitchy, illogical or insane, and then vanish. This has my name on it. I don’t have anything, except for my name. People are making assumptions about me, my character, my “vindictive intentions”. I can’t say anything in my defence which the people who have issues with this cartoon will actually believe, so why bother?

So, dear reader, what would you do?

EDIT: I’ve just read it again, very carefully, trying to unravel the meaning of the more circumlocutory sentences. How could this take a month to write, and yet be so poorly proofread? The implication that I am trying to trivialise sexual assault, re-traumatise victims, and discourage them from reporting the crime, is outrageous.

22 Responses to “Is this closure? Finally? Or the start of another round?”

  1. To me the most important thing here is the controversy is based on an influenced, personal interpretation of one particular panel (not even considering the whole context). Otherwise, why other women did not get offended? Are they straw women as one of the commentators suggested?

    I am one of them. Honestly, I didn’t see any of the intentions mentioned by commentator’s attempts of describe the image in their own words. For instance, the way the girl dresses didn’t call my attention (I have seen many women dressing like that when they go out). I did not see violence (understanding violence as a behaviour which is intended to hurt) either.

    Probably if I or someone I know was a victim of sexual violence, I’d have been offended too. Or if I had issues with amphetamines, plagiarism or Louis Vuitton bags dependence.

    I sincerely understand that anyone in the above cases might get offended by your cartoon (especially if they saw it after reading/hearing others’ interpretations) but that does not authorise them to assume there was a deliberated intention to offend or to trivialise sexual violence or any of the other issues addressed. Did any of them raise their concerns to you first? Did any of the critics ask you for clarification before to throw their stones?

    I totally understand you feel the urge to respond to the comments you consider wrong and unfair, but I think it impossible to have an unbiased, balanced discussion when the origin of the controversy was a personal interpretation.

    I share your apprehension about people who had issues with your cartoon might not believe your clarifications (if they are open enough to hear them), but maybe it would be worth for those who first heard of you through this unfortunate episode. For the rest of us who respect and value you and your work as cartoonist, you must trust we are open and intelligent enough to separate the grain from the straw.

  2. Thank you, Mafalda. Unfortunately I can assume nothing. After a tense and unsatisfactory visit to the Salient office, I’m giving in and finally writing a letter to the editor.

  3. This is shit. Grant, I don’t know you very well and haven’t seen you for years, but you shouldn’t have to put up with this.

  4. Thanks, Pearce. It’s been a looooong month.

  5. thomsedavi Says:

    “This article is to address the issues raised by the comic… To be honest, I think there has been enough space taken up in Salient discussing whether or not the cartoon should have been published and what the intention of the cartoonist may or may not have been… Rather than focusing our attention on whether this cartoon reflects the vindictive intentions of the cartoonist or any individual, let’s put our energy into considering the ignorance and lack of sensitivity in our community as a whole…”

    For an article that has nothing to do with attacking Grant Buist, it sure does spend a lot of time attacking Grant Buist. And then explaining that it has nothing to do with attacking Grant Buist.

  6. You’ll notice it doesn’t mention me by name.

  7. thomsedavi Says:

    I did, but it’s not hard to figure out who ‘the cartoonist’ is.

  8. ‘Dog whistling’ in other words.

  9. The Angriest Dog in the World Says:

    *bears teeth in dark*

  10. David Lynch? Is that you?

  11. thomsedavi Says:

    I’m afraid that when you’re 17 and on IRC, that’s something of an argument winner. You know… if you want to prove that Edward Cullen could beat Harry Potter in a fight.

    For anyone not 17 and not in IRC, it’s an annoying non-sequitur.

  12. I’m just confused, now.

  13. thomsedavi Says:

    The *bears teeth in dark* thing, not the ‘David Lynch’ thing.

  14. The Angriest Dog in the World Says:


    your head

  15. One of my favourite unchanging-panel strips.

    All I need now is a comment from Julee Cruise to make this the ultimate weird blog post.

  16. thomsedavi Says:

    There’s a point where this anonymous attempt at what I think is trying to be intimidation can be considered both harassment and spamming. Have you considered the possibilities that the ‘delete’ button might offer?

  17. I don’t think it’s malicious. And it’s actually a good comic strip. It’s easier to understand than Inland Empire, anyway.

    Mind you, my benchmark for what constitutes “malicious” keeps shifting. 🙂

  18. Wow. What a world of suck.

    If it helps, let me note that when I read the strip, the panel in question in no way stood out. If I thought anything about it, it was likely along the lines of “heh true, teenage boys are testosterone-fueled guided missiles to a close approximation, and don’t get me started on rugby lads”. This is speaking as someone who was once a micro-dressed 17-year-old first-year (although thankfully not a rape victim).

    It’s apparently a berserk button for some, and if it gets people talking about sexual violence, that’s no bad thing. But I’m appalled you haven’t been offered the opportunity to present your viewpoint and defend your good name. I suspect part of the problem is lack of context. Anyone coming cold to that strip has little data to work with in forming assumptions about you. Whereas half an hour’s familiarity with your work is enough to infer that you’re no misogynist. It’s perhaps unfortunate that that particular strip was the first of the year.
    Also, don’t forget that those taking umbrage will be doing so in the context of their own baggage; a lot of this is what the audience is bringing rather than the artist.

    Controversy is great publicity, though. For every person who now wants to cut your dick off, there’ll be someone else who goes to check out what all of the fuss is about and thinks “hey that’s kinda cool”.

    Hope you find your closure.

  19. Arohanui, that is very kind of you, and therefore of course suits your handle.

  20. Oh thank you, Rhinocrates, although it was no more than the truth as I saw it.

    But it’s true, I do like the concept of metta.

  21. Metta is the abstract concept of cheese.

    I ♥ intelligent sympathisers.

    (A sympathiser is an electronic organ that makes the noise “There, there.”)

    My new goal is to gradually decrease the ratio of emasculators to fans from 1:1 to 1:100.

  22. Mmmmm feta… I’m hungry now.

    I ♥ the “there, there”.

    Random aside:
    ‘Whinge’ is such a wonderful word.

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