Cartoon Arouses Ire of South Africa's "Dick-tator"

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgA lot of global citizens share a similar feeling about politicians: they're big dicks. A South African political cartoonist gave that a more literal interpretation, by depicting the country's president, Jacob Zuma, as an erect penis.

The kerfuffle started with a satirical painting of Zuma called "The Spear". Artist Brett Murray portrayed the president in the style of socialist artwork, in a pose reminiscent of Lenin. Also with his penis hanging out.

Zuma was suing the displaying gallery to get them to remove the canvas.

The painting was recently vandalized by two men who came into the art gallery with cans of paint and brushes. Were they anti-Zuma, anti-nudity, or just radical art critics? It's hard to tell, but they painted over both Zuma's face and exposed genitals.

In the act of trying to cover himself, Zuma's legal suit against the artist attracted the criticism of a well-known South African political cartoonist, Jonathon Shapiro (aka Zapiro).

Zapiro's comic features Zuma as a giant walking penis in an art gallery, frowning at itself in a mirror, accompanied by a limerick describing him as a dick for trying to suppress the painter's freedom of expression. The African National Congress' Women's League responded that "The Zapiro cartoons rely on their shock value to make an impact, but calling the president of this great nation a 'dick' is unacceptable."

Zuma's defenders cry foul on flaunting the president's privates, calling the images racist and denigrating the politico's dignity in a manner reminiscent of pre-apartheid's dehumanization of blacks. Zuma's critics say it has more to do with his personal life and public comments. He practices polygamy and has had extramarital affairs, and has stated that showering after sex can reduce the risk of getting HIV (Zapiro depicts Zuma with a small shower over his head for this reason).

No word on whether Zuma is a Viagra consumer, but with a track record like that, it would be a surprise if he wasn't.