Punchable Faces? Does Comics Artist Bill Sienkiewicz's Venting Advocate Violence?

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Sienkiewicz Sanders

Editorial cartooning. It's been the hallmark of American politics since before we even signed the Declaration of Independence. It can be on point, humorous, and skewer the opposition just as viciously as any sword. A picture, truly, is worth a thousand words. God bless the First Amendment!

But just because speech is protected from being silenced doesn't mean it's protected from criticism. When Sarah Palin famously put cross-hairs on states that were having elections, urging people to get out and vote, it was seen by many as an advocation of violence. Cross-hairs, after all, were indicative of guns, and guns meant shooting. Thus, it was reasoned that Sarah Palin was calling for violence against the opponents in these states.

Comics artist Bill Sienkiewicz saves us the trouble of wondering if he's calling for violence. While he caricaturizes those he is frustrated with this year against the backdrop of a shooting target, he also helpfully labels the collection with text: The Most Punchable Faces of 2017. Among the pictures he's tweeted on social media are FOX News pundits Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

That's mildly uncomfortable, but not really unprecedented. Just about every election season since the Internet has brought us the "Punch [Person of Choice]" applications where you can hit a cartoon version of a public figure as it gets more and more bruised and battered.

But we wander deeply into the weeds when a male artist starts including women (well, to be fair, just one woman) in his collection of punchable faces. It doesn't even need to be the year of #MeToo for this to make a rational person feel the need to leave the room and wash their hands.

But Sienkiewicz bravely pushes that boundary forward, and adds White House Press Secretary Sara Huckabee Sanders to his collection of Most Punchable Faces of 2017. That's her, below. And yes, that is a shooting target behind her.

Here's to hoping that Sanders, Hannity, Mitch McConnell, Pai and the others in Sienkiewicz portfolio don't have a softball practice planned in the near future.