Newspaper apologises for revolting anti-trans incest cartoon. The man responsible called it ‘woke culture’ and quit
French newspaper Le Monde has lost one of its most prominent cartoonists after apologising for a cartoon about incest that has been criticised for being transphobic.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Caroline Monnot, issued an apology on Tuesday (19 January) for a cartoon by Xavier Gorce referencing a recent sex-abuse scandal among the French elite.
The cartoon, also published Tuesday (20 January), faced immediate backlash online with critics calling it transphobic, insensitive to rape survivors, and wrong for making light of incest.
Gorce immediately quit the paper, citing “woke culture”. He had worked for Le Monde for 19 years, according to the Daily News.
“Freedom is not negotiable,” Gorce tweeted. “I hope that the ‘woke’ culture that is now present in part of the left-wing Anglo-Saxon press is not spilling over into the media in France.”
While Monnot’s apology said that the cartoon should not have been published, it has not been removed from Le Monde’s website.
“This drawing can indeed be read as relativizing the seriousness of acts of incest, using inappropriate terms towards victims and transgender people,” Monnot said.
The cartoon Gorce drew featured two penguins, the smaller of which asks the larger: “If I was abused by the adopted half-brother of the partner of my transgender father who has now become my mother, is that incest?”
Le Monde has been heavily and widely criticised for publishing Gorce’s cartoon.
But others have pointed to the paper’s defence of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad – which took aim at Islamist extremists but were widely deemed as being offensive to Muslims – as an example of “woke culture” going too far in the case of transgender people. Some asked why offending trans people was deemed impermissible when mocking Islam had not been.
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Rokhaya Diallo, a leading feminist journalist and anti-racist campaigner, said that the cartoon was “a foul joke on incest and paedo-criminality which, in passing, casts opprobrium on transgender women”.
Gorce’s cartoon was commenting on a recent controversy surrounding the publication of a book this month about Olivier Duhamel, 70, one of France’s most prominent media commentators. In the book, Duhamel’s stepdaughter, Camille Kouchner, accuses him of raping her twin brother when he was 14.
Duhamel branded the allegations a “personal attack” and many public figures have commented on the situation, which led to a wave of incest abuse testimonies being shared on social media under the hashtag “MeTooInceste”.
Some commentators had asked if raping a stepson was “truly incest” and others posited that raping a 14-year-old could be considered consensual sex, according to UnHerd.
On Thursday (21 January), France passed a new law to protect minors from sexual abuse, with a last-minute amendment adding tougher penalties for the “aggravated offence” of incest in the wake of the scandal.