Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Nick Anderson has described Donald Trump as a “teenage wannabe author,” after the US president’s reelection campaign failed to pull one of Anderson’s caricatures that mocked Trump’s erroneous proposal that injecting disinfectants could protect against Covid-19.
Anderson is putting his cartoon Trump Cult on sale at online retailer Redbubble this month. The illustration shows Trump with supporters in Maga hats and serving them a drink that has been labeled “Kool-Aid”
But Redbubble drew Anderson’s illustration from the sale following a trademark infringement allegation made by Trump’s campaign organization, Donald J Trump for President Inc. He wrote on Daily Kos and said Anderson believed he made the claim because of his portrayal of Maga hats and described the situation as “absurd”.
“We live in a strange time when #POTUS can wrongly accuse someone of murder with impunity (violation of @ Twitter’s terms of service), and at the same time bully a private company for removing content it doesn’t like,” Anderson added on Twitter.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and other free speech organizations were then involved, sending a group letter to Redbubble accusing Trump of campaigning for “abusing Redbubble’s reporting mechanism to suppress protected political expression in the form of parody, criticism and satire” And claims that the work and those who publish it are protected by the first amendment.
Redbubble reintroduced Anderson’s cartoon this week, says it it strives to “respect IP rights and freedom of expression, but we sometimes make mistakes, as we did here … We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.”
In a statement, Anderson praised Redbubble for acknowledging the error, but said there were some “troubling issues” raised by the deal, including that the cartoon was removed less than 24 hours after he published it, before receiving a single order.
“I doubt anyone has even seen it on the site yet,” he said. “This reveals that the Trump campaign has a system in place that trawls for materials that they think are indestructible. If it happened to me so quickly, it probably happened to others. How much other content has been removed in this way on Redbubble and other websites? “
He added: “It has to be pointed out: The US president is a hypocrite who complains about the” violation “of his free speech on Twitter and then tries to actively suppress the free speech of others. These are the actions of a teenage wannabe author. “
Trump criticized Twitter this week for “absolutely suffocating FREE speech” after the social media platform put a warning label on two of his tweets spreading lies about voting by mail.
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said the organization was “sensitive to the issues that companies like Redbubble face when balancing competing rights ownership issues and were afraid to see the presidential re-election campaign leveraging those issues to suppress protected speech”.
“We’re glad Redbubble has done the right thing in this case,” he said. “We hope they continue to assert the First Amendment rights that they and their vendors are guaranteed by rejecting similar censorship attempts.”