Vermont Turns Green Over Tim Newcomb Cartoon

Tim Newcomb is entitled to his opinion.

A Tim Newcomb cartoon about Democratic candidates for Vermont’s U.S. House of Representatives seat has some citizens (and advertisers) calling for a modern day equivalent, as The Times Argus puts it, of the cartoonist being drawn and quartered.

Today, Tim finds himself on the end of a pointy stick following scrutiny of his depiction of former governor Madeleine Kunin – an advocate for getting more women into public offices — in a vehicle with the three declared candidates for Congressman Peter Welch’s seat — all Democrats, all women. Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint sits next to Kunin in the front, while the far less-experienced candidates, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (depicted as children in car seats), are in the back. (He has done the same for various male members of Gov. Scott’s team, as well.)

Tim is taking heat — not for making fun of the candidates’ resumes, but because of their gender first. He is wrongly being called a misogynist. And his depiction of Hinsdale, who is a person of color, has been called a racist “dog whistle.” Tim is wrongly being characterized as racist.

The Times Argus does newspapers proud by supporting their cartoonist.

The cartoon appeared in The Times Argus and Rutland Herald, as well as in Seven Days, which has four times the circulation of our two newspapers combined. Readers have asked The Times Argus to censure Newcomb; advertisers have threatened to step away; Publisher Steven Pappas has been asked to resign for allowing such a depiction into print. (Seven Days Publisher Paula Routly has received no such requests.)

The First Amendment allows us to say what we want to say, and to be judged for it.

This is Tim’s week. And he is entitled to his opinion.

Seven Days also noted the reaction to the cartoon.

Last week, Montpelier artist Tim Newcomb penned his first editorial cartoon about Vermont’s U.S. House race. In it, former governor Madeleine Kunin is driving a car. Her passengers are the three Democratic women running for the state’s lone Congressional seat.

Published in Seven Days, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and the Rutland Herald, the cartoon drew immediate ire from Democratic activists.

In a January 21 press release, party chair Anne Lezak scolded: “This openly sexist, racist depiction of Vermont’s three highly qualified Congressional candidates and former governor speaks volumes about the cartoonist’s apparent disdain for women leaders — especially younger women.”

Seven Days also stands with Tim:

Vermont is the only state that’s never sent a woman to Washington, and Democrats seem determined to finally make it happen.

Does that mean we should treat these trailblazers differently than their predecessors, who were regularly portrayed in all manner of unflattering ways to make a cartoonist’s point about their strengths and weaknesses? Vermonters rely on an independent media to help vet candidates for public office. That work will be even harder to do if parties, activists and politicians respond to every pointed critique with claims of sexism and racism.

Seven Days did include an opposing view in the form of a cartoon.

Newcomb’s take didn’t provoke a superstrong reaction from Seven Days readers. But on Sunday, a letter to the editor came in the form of a cartoon from Llu Mulvaney-Stanak, a former Democratic campaign staffer who’s now the station manager for WGDR radio in Plainfield. It’s a clever response, except for the box across the bottom that condemns Newcomb’s work as “mysoginistic [sic], racist and ageist.”