Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 29, 2012

Jacob Zuma Drops Rape Cartoons Case Against Zapiro


An expected trial over one of the most famous cartoons of the last quarter-century will not come off as expected, as over the weekend towering South African political figure Jacob Zuma dropped charges against the cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro over his famous "rape of lady justice" cartoon. The suit had previously been diminished to a smaller dollar amount and a full apology being sought. Zuma also agreed to pay half of his opponent's legal charges. While Zuma's office cited not wishing to intrude on free speech consideration, the article points out that Zuma still has any number of lawsuits going that deal in this same general area. A bigger concern might have been the legal fees that Zuma incurred while going after some of the more sizable targets.

I can't see any way this isn't a considerable victory for Zapiro and his publishers, both specifically and in general. It's also a welcome development in a recent, distressing and absolutely worldwide trend of sitting politicians using the court system to discourage free speech in cartoon and in prose form. It's also been an object lesson in how pushing back against a specific cartoon or cartoonist can result in the item of offense having much greater traction over time than if these things were ignored.
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink

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