Tag Archives: political cartoonists

Observations On The La Jolla High Cartoon Controversy

I was going to make this an Ethics Quiz, but category that  can’t quite encompass the issues involved, and the more I considered it, the more certain I became of what should have happened. Here is the story:

A student-drawn cartoon was  published last month in the La Jolla High School’s “Hi-Tide” newspaper. It depicted eight ethnic groups in a blatantly stereotypical manner ( which is to say, it was a cartoon), with each figure pictured wearing T-shirts with messages  reinforcing the stereotypes. The cartoonist’s purpose was to lampoon the controversial H&M ad that caused the company to pull the ad and apologize:

Here was the student’s cartoon…

The requisite number of sensitive students and /or their sensitive parents complained about the cartoon to compel the school principal to grovel an apology, saying that the decision to publish the cartoon was an “error in judgment and a breach of all the values we hold dear at La Jolla High School,” since the cartoon depicted multiple ethnic groups as “ugly racial stereotypes.”

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising

Flashback: When Even Herb Block Was Gracious To The President Elect He Hated…

herblock-free-shave

I’ve referred to the cartoon above, from 1968, several times here. “Herblock” was a legendary, hard-line Democrat political cartoonist for the Washington Post, and reflected the styles and sensibilities of the old school in his field. Corporations and bankers were always fat guys in top hats and formal wear, “the poor” were always represented by thin, desperate Depression figures in tattered clothing. Liberals were always caricatured as dignified champions and Republicans were usually drawn to look like criminals and maniacs. Herb Block got more extreme as he aged: when Reagan won in 1980, Block drew a cartoon showing cave dwellers carrying clubs and troglodytes riding Mastodons marching into Washington.

He hated Nixon; all liberals did. He was regarded as just short of  Joe McCarthy by liberals, for he had won his House seat by tarring his opponent as a pro-Commie tool, and saved his tenure as Eisenhower’s VP by the infamous “Checkers” speech, as revolting an example of using sentimental hogwash to cloud a scandal as has ever been tried. The country was a tinderbox in 1968. Colleges had been engulfed in demonstrations, strikes and violence for two years. The Democratic National Convention sparked riots in the streets of Chicago. The Vietnam war was raging. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had both been assassinated. The young idealists who had followed those two liberal icons as well as non-conformist Democratic Senator Gene McCarthy were angry and disillusioned.

In part because of the intemperate “law and order” rhetoric of Nixon’s attack dog running mate, Spiro Agnew, some feared that Nixon’s ascent would mean martial law. Nixon had said that he had a “secret plan” for ending the war, and many thought that plan was to nuke North Vietnam. Ominously, Senator Barry Goldwater, whom Democrats had painted as an atom bomb-happy madman when he had lost to Johnson in the previous election, supported Nixon vigorously. The Republican nominee appealed to the “silent majority” who found the nation’s noisy turn leftward in the Sixties distasteful.

For more than a decade, Block had drawn Nixon as a sinister, menacing presence with an overgrown 5 o’clock shadow. You think I’m exaggerating? Here’s an example… Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Facebook’s Sad, Ignorant, Compassionate, Irresponsible Post-Orlando Freakout

antigun cartoon

If I had the time and wanted to anger about two-thirds of my friends, I could go around Facebook and explain to them why their latest posted anti-gun meme, or latest simple-minded anti-gun cartoon, or furious rant against the NRA, Republicans and “gun nuts,” show them to be ignorant, hysterical, and irresponsible citizens. Maybe I’ll spend a day doing this and see what happens.

The culprits are everywhere, from all backgrounds. These aren’t just my actor friends, who tend to memorize lines with their brains and think with their hearts. It’s many of the lawyers I know too….also journalists, writers, policy-makers—all kinds. As they quote with approval partisan and ignorant anti-gun pundits, actors or elected officials, they also erupt with emotion, counting on a welter of “likes,” “loves” and crying faces from the friends, who uncritically cheer the sentiment without challenging the execrable law and logic. The process repeats over and over, like a rinse cycle, until the original posters are not only convinced that they are right, but that anyone who disagrees is an evil promoter of violence not worthy of human association. I have read, more than once, “If you disagree, keep your opinion to yourself, or I’ll unfriend you.”

I confess, I’ve resisted my natural instinct to take up those dares, because these people are in pain, and, frankly, temporarily deranged. Many of them are gay, an identify personally with the victims. I sympathize with that. They also have a right to their anti-gun opinions, but they are polluting an important debate and making any resolution impossible by being willfully ignorant, and rebelling in it. The lawyers are especially disgracing themselves. Again—it is irresponsible, and it is bad citizenship.

If I were going to be a Facebook vigilante and point out the serious flaws in the various anti-gun rants, my Facebook friends would find more notes like this one, which I left in response to a good friend’s rant against the head of the Gun Owners of America  blaming the Orlando shooting on “Gun Free Zones.”  My friend wrote…

“I’m willing to entertain just about any argument for gun rights, but this one is SHIT. I will not be convinced that on Sunday evening, even a few, trained, people violating the Gun Free Zone in a dimly lit club, with HUNDREDS of panicked, perhaps inebriated, people running in every direction for their lives, could get a “good shot” to take out the man responsible for this atrocity. I believe the result is called more deaths by “friendly fire.”

I responded in part…

The argument is that murderous shooters will be less likely to come to kill when there is a chance that someone will be armed. This is not “shit”…This is the oldest pro-gun/anti-gun divide of all: the criminals and terrorists aren’t the ones who will follow the gun regulations; law abiding citizens are. That should be obvious. I don’t believe for a moment that one can blame the massacre on ” Gun Free Zones.”…but the argument that a shooting occurred because an area wasn’t a Gun Free Zone is even more silly. Is a terrorist going to say, “Ooops! Can’t slaughter gays in that club—it’s a Gun Free Zone!” Of course not. Might a terrorist choose not to attack a venue where he knows that one or more people might be armed, rather than one where he knows the law-abiding victims will be defenseless? Maybe.

Your point of bias, and it’s a common one, is that the presence of a gun makes one unsafe. The presence of a maniac makes one unsafe. If you happen to have a gun, maybe you’re a bit safer. Agree or not, that isn’t “fucking insane.” What I do think is fucking insane is people allowing emotion to eat their brains all over Facebook. It doesn’t help.

It just doesn’t help.  This friend is rational and thoughtful, and I expect him to take my critique in the spirit in which it was offered.  I can’t always count on a reasonable response, however, such as from the friends have posted this meme:

Anti-Gun meme 1

Machine guns and automatic weapons are illegal. The meme goes along with the laments of those who believe that the Orlando shooter used an “assault rifle” or a military weapon in the shooting. When you point out that it was not an “assault weapon,” they just shrug the distinction off as an irrelevant detail, and this is a tell. All guns are indistinguishable to many of my friends. Guns are bad, that’s all. This undercuts the lie—and I am now convinced that it is a lie—that they don’t want to ban guns and repeal the Second Amendment.

Ken White wrote perceptively, as he usually does, on why this approach is both dishonest and counter-productive:

I support the argument that the United States should enact a total ban on civilians owning firearms.

Oh, I don’t support the ban. I support the argument.

I support the argument because it’s honest and specific. It doesn’t hide the ball, it doesn’t refuse to define terms, it doesn’t tell rely on telling people they are paranoid or stupid in their concerns about the scope of the ban. The argument proposes a particular solution and will require the advocate to defend it openly…There’s a very good reason to care about what you mean when you argue that “assault weapons” should be banned: the term is infinitely flexible. If you think it inherently means something specific, you haven’t bothered to inform yourself about the issue. “Assault weapon” means whatever the definers decide it should mean. Banning “assault weapons” is the gun version of banning “hate speech” or “disruptive protest” or “dangerous persons” or “interfering with a police officer” — it’s a blank check. And I don’t like handing out blank checks to the government to ban things and jail people…

A lot of my Facebook friends do, however. Here’s a link approvingly posted by a lawyer friend, saying in part.. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Quotes, Rights, U.S. Society

Blame Tom Toles For This Post: NO, Obama Can NOT Honestly Claim That He Cut The Deficit

Toles deficit

While we’re on the topic of misleading statements, as in lies, foisted on the American public by the President of the United States, I now have to bring up his boast in his State of the Union speech that “We’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.” [Don’t get me started with “all this.”]

I was going to leave this infuriating line alone, I really was, because when you get on the topic of deficits, the numbers-spinners have a field day. Then I saw Tom Toles’ cartoon, above, for the Washington Post.

Toles, if I haven’t made it clear before, is the worst of a breed that is itself a disgrace to journalism, a form of editorial content that is immune from the ethical restrictions that are supposed to govern journalism. It is the ultimate “clown nose on/ clown nose off” scam, and Toles exploits its license beyond the nauseating limits set by his over-rated predecessor, the equally biased but not quite as shameless Herb Block….you remember, the guy who drew all businessmen as obese, cigar-chomping robber barons out of the 1890s, and conservative Congress members as cavemen. Yeah, he was subtle and fair all right. Toles is much worse.

By what version of English and logic can anyone say that Obama reduced the deficit at all, much less by “almost three-quarters? Here is the chart of the deficits since 2005 in dollars: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Finance, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Research and Scholarship

Ethics Observations On The Washington Post’s “Ted Cruz’s Kids Are Monkeys” Cartoon Uproar

ted-cruz-monkey-cartoon

Here’s what you need to know: Ted Cruz launched a political ad  that features the Texas Republican reading parody Christmas fare to his two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine, stuff like “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails.”  Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes reacted with the drawing above, titled “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.” The children are portrayed as monkeys. Telnaes clearly knew she was on thin ice, and accompanied the cartoon with a justification (now pulled: if anyone has the whole text, I’d like to see it) saying in part,

“But when a politician uses his children as political props, as Ted Cruz recently did in his Christmas parody video in which his eldest daughter read (with her father’s dramatic flourish) a passage of an edited Christmas classic, then I figure they are fair game.”

Note: the daughters are 7 and 4.

Cruz cried foul in a tweet, and the news media and internet was beginning to tilt hard against the Post, when editor Fred Hiatt pulled the cartoon, writing,

“It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.”

And here we are.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Professions

Comment of the Day: “9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s ‘Racist’ Cartoon”

cartooning

In my post on the matter, I called out to Barry Deutsch, a.k.a. Ampersand, an accomplished political cartoonist and blogger who has graced this space in the past, for his professional reaction to the controversy over the Boston Herald’s Jerry Holbert suggesting, in a cartoon about the recent Secret Service debacles, that President Obama would use watermelon-flavored tooth paste. He was kind enough to register a rapid, and typically thoughtful, response.

Here is his Comment of the Day on my post, “9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s “Racist” Cartoon”: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Journalism & Media, Professions, Race, Workplace

9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s “Racist” Cartoon

Obama-Watermelon-1

1. (UPDATE) I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct:  the reference to any African- American having as affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.

2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?

I don’t get it. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Race