It's hard to tell what the next horror to appear on the internet will be.
On Saturday, April 24, that horror was a giant wall sticker of Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, naked except for BDSM gear with a PROUD BOY tattoo across his abdomen.
The sticker—which was posted on the side of the St. Mary's Strip in San Antonio, Texas—was spread across social media where some found it ironically hilarious while others feel it is insensitive to the leather bear community.
Some online assumed the sticker was not meant to "kink-shame" or make fun of people with bodies similar to Cruz's who engage in a BDSM subculture.
They felt it was intended to mock Cruz's long history of anti-LGBTQ+ actions.
I’m not sure if I want to 😂 or 🤮 at this giant wall sticker of @tedcruz in San Antonio https://t.co/YwjE6AGMlk— Pepper Spray 💙 #BLM #BidenHarris2020 (@Pepper Spray 💙 #BLM #BidenHarris2020)1619299130.0
The #bdsm community does not accept #TedCruz... in case it needed to be said.— Daisy (@Daisy)1619341190.0
Others, however, felt the mocking photo would have a harmful effect on many innocent people even if that wasn't the intention.
@MalcolmNance Fat-shaming bad people is still fat-shaming & tells your fat friends how you really feel about them.… https://t.co/j6v82a3vvS— Dr. Joseph Mastron (@Dr. Joseph Mastron)1617079771.0
I was just talking with someone who found this pic of @tedcruz offensive. I asked her to name one (1) thing that he… https://t.co/ucwDDtW5sj— TXShamrock665 ☘️ (@TXShamrock665 ☘️)1619277581.0
Others still only offered up some typical, Twitter-style snark.
@Jackasaurus3 he is not the dominator he should be wearing a leash and muzzle— Humanism Resisted (@Humanism Resisted)1617028448.0
This leather bear did not deserve Ted Cruz’s face on his body. #CancunCruz https://t.co/CqbWwIn3AJ— John-Phillip 🐳 (@John-Phillip 🐳)1617067091.0
There were some Twitter users who understood what the image was trying to accomplish.
But they still felt it was using an LGBTQ+ identity as a way of shaming a heterosexual cisgender male.
Just saw a tweet on that leather daddy Ted Cruz thing talking about how it was better than the one of him in drag a… https://t.co/ozXxmYpFuJ— Dr. Reba McEntired (@Dr. Reba McEntired)1617077610.0
@Jackasaurus3 @DerekDaSilva Homophobia and fat phobia are products of white supremacist ideation regarding physical… https://t.co/mpejdywDii— wolf bee cryptid (@wolf bee cryptid)1619385801.0
Once you see it You can't unsee it #TedCruz https://t.co/h3Uo1OVklq— Liberal15 (@Liberal15)1618336911.0
But some people saw no issues with the image.
San Antonio rules https://t.co/VAOx79ySHu— Drewcifer (@Drewcifer)1619363275.0
Was the giant sticker a funny dunk on Ted Cruz or kink and fat-shaming homophobia?
The internet wasn't sure.
My eyes are burning! https://t.co/yaEvJvIqEo— Vickie 🏴☠️ (@Vickie 🏴☠️)1619357742.0
I don’t want to kink-shame, but…bwahahaha https://t.co/TyrmMj16kp— GB Bowers (@GB Bowers)1619320693.0
In these complicated times, it's occasionally hard to sort out the message in online culture.
Sometimes the best we can do is to be aware of the harm we may be doing to others and try our best to avoid repeating our mistakes.