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Did you hear about the racism controversy over this editorial comic in the NY Post?

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/19/chimp.cartoon.react/index.html


The cartoonist fell into a trap I call a "remindsmeof." His comic was clearly about Congress, since President Obama didn't "write" the stimulus package. But the comic reminds the reader of racism and the risk of presidential assassination even though the cartoonist clearly wasn't addressing either topic. That was enough to get him into trouble.

In my early years of cartooning my editor rejected a few Dilbert comics because they were remindsmeofs. I thought it was overprotective and ridiculous. But I've since learned that you can't underestimate the public's ability to find offense where none is written. Now I recognize (usually) when I am about to blunder into a remindsmeof and I edit the comic myself. It saves time and trouble. When I offend, I prefer it to be intentional.

 
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+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 21, 2009
It reminded me of the infinite monkey theorem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 21, 2009
Just gotta say...my first response to the cartoon WAS a knee-jerk "That's racist & stupid" before my brain kicked me in the ass and reminded me that GW was an argument (barely) for evolution and look much like our maligned chimp relatives. As our former president was often depicted as a chimp, then wouldn't it be racist if cartoonists AVOIDED depicting Obama as a chimp?
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 21, 2009
I see no connection between the pet chimp and the stimulus bill that is one heck of a leap. Here in Utah when the legislature is in session the representatives are depicted as people with tails acting like monkeys jumping from chair to chair but no one has complained because it is the actions that are being parodied not the people. The cartoon was offensive on so many levels. It may have meant to depict congress as the pet chimp that rose up to attach its oppressors. I still do not understand the chimp thing. It wasn’t even funny.
 
 
Feb 21, 2009
Shame that someone like you, who could influence so many tender minds, (such as your readers) choose to side with the bullies
 
 
Feb 21, 2009
Scott, love your cartoons, but your response to the NYP cartoon is asinine and unworthy of a clever satirist like yourself, surely you are not playing to the gallery of racist extremists who visit your site and read your blogs? Of course this cartoon is racist, intentionally so, designed to degrade Obama, with a clear symbolic reference to his color, it could not possibly be otherwise, given the historical signifiers that we all know so well, and that black people have endured for centuries, note the response of black commentators, they have no illusions, why are you peddling them? I would venture further and say this cartoon is inflammatory and an incitement to hatred against a newly elected Afro American president.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 20, 2009
People are dumb. The monkey represents congress. A monkey in real life savagely attacked a woman. The cartoonist was clearly trying to compare what the monkey did to the woman is what congress is doing to us. Did I mention that people are dumb?
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
I must say, if nobody had told me it was racist, I never would have seen the connection between Obama and the dead chimp. I think a people are screaming about nothing.

But, hey, at least nobody perceived it as comparing Muhammad to that chimp. We might have to rebuild the U.S. Embassy in Tehran again. Our home-grown hair-trigger loonies just scream a lot, then, if nobody listens, they shut up; if they get too much attention, however, this could end up with the Post and their cartoonist being censured/fined for exercising their freedom of speech. Even so, I prefer our variety of loonies; nobody has to fear for his life when something sets them off.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
I saw the NY Times cartoon for the first time by clicking the link. Gotta admit, killing chimps dead is kinda funny.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 20, 2009
John Allen Paulos is quite interested in news that has impact on economical and mathematical problems, it is really a wonderful text to read and take use of it.

[html]<a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://fsbo.fastrealestate.net" title="by owner">by owner</a>[/html]
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
Yeah, it's ambiguous, and that's what makes it an ineffective cartoon. If the editor(s) at the NY Post noticed the offensive interpretation, they probably didn't care. The paper is, after all, owned by Rupert Murdoch and run by a bunch of Republicans.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
I thought the same thing when I saw this cartoon that I have thought over and over again for more than twenty years.

WTF does an "editor" do these days?

I published a comic once in a local free newspaper in Virginia. I was a teenager. The free newspaper's editor was also an editor for a major local newspaper, donating his time and energy to help the community.

In my comic, one of the characters said "Zounds!" - and this led to me getting a phone call from the editor.

"You can't say 'Zounds'," he informed me. "It's a contraction of 'God's wounds', and many readers will feel that you are making light of Jesus on the cross."

"You're kidding," I responded. "Who actually knows that? Like, one in a million people?"

"Probably more like one in ten thousand," he said, "which means we'll get about twenty letters complaining about it, and another thirty people will bring it up in church, and that could put a couple hundred angry people with picket signs outside our office on Monday."

I changed the comic to say "Yoiks!" instead, and the editor published it.

So here's the big problem I have. Here is this cartoon in the newspaper. Why, why, WHY did not ONE SINGLE EDITOR anywhere in this vast nation of ours say "we cannot print this cartoon, because 'monkey' is a pejorative term for African-Americans, and no matter how you label it people will THINK you are making a racist and violent statement about the President"? Which, in turn, even a RETARDED lawyer could extend to "such a statement would be a felony, in which we could neither participate nor appear to participate for liability reasons"?

Seriously, WTF do they do? They post misspelled headlines, grammatically offensive bylines, entire articles that have not seen even the most rudimentary fact-checking, and just generally don't appear to have any purpose at all. All the things editors USED to do are obviously not being done. Why do we still have editors? If they aren't going to do their jobs, aren't they superfluous?
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
Do I understand this might be offensive? Yes. Ddid I look at it any different because of race? No. I thought it was another cartoon about our economic and government mess, which I don't find funny.

So at what point in your career do you create a book of comics that couldn't be published because they might offend?
I think the offense depends on the offended's access to the media. If you have the money to create a non-profit and call it 'The National Geek Defense League' and our existance is to comment on things that are offensive to geeks in the media, what are you going to do? If you write enough letters and make enough statements, evenntually the media calls you any time something might be offensive. Eventually you have a mailing list and phone numbers to call if anything possibly offensive to your group happens. So you attack and earn your bonus.

There are reasons to attack certainly. Some things said are horrible.

I mean clearly many cartoons here offend managers, but when they talk, who's really listening? I have learned they do not think names like "master of a obvious" and "pudding head" are complementary. However, I did once get by with, "if you were a liquid, lead would float on top of you." I hear managers are working on a project plan to form one of these groups, but don't want a lower grade project manager involved. I hear their on itteration 3, but are still deciding which tool to write the project plan with and are rewriting the project charter.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 20, 2009
I think saying that "the comic reminds the reader of ...the risk of presidential assassination" is a stretch. Who would try to assasinate the president with a dead monkey?...That's just stupid.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
And speaking of racism, but moving from comics to real life, I submit this:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2009/02/18/nb-homework-project.html
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
i was thinking something similar this morning. That almost regardless of what government does (assuming the DO something), in four years the economy is probably going to be better and Obama can take the credit.

I remember a similar situation when I think Reagan became president. I don't know why, but I remember a talk show host or a newscaster said something like "this economy would have improved if a blind monkey had been elected president." Couldn't use that now, could we? And I don't know how I feel about that. Somewhat disappointed, but I know racism is still an ugly issue. And I know it probably will be for a long time - in some form or other.

I wonder what the signs of the end of racism will be? I know electing a multi-racial president is one, but obviously its not the only one. Marriages/relationships where race is no big deal will be another. I always thought that when African Americans start adopting Caucasian kids - and no one makes a big deal out of it - that will be a good sign too.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 20, 2009
"When I offend, I prefer it to be intentional"

Brilliant!! ROFL
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
Eric Holder (the new Attorney General, for those of you who are politically asleep) said the following in some remarks before the Justice Department celebrating Black History Week on Wednesday: "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards."

Responding to this, Bill Willlingham blogged, "In my experience, anyone who doesn’t immediately and enthusiastically subscribe to the idea that all American whites are active oppressors against other races is an irredeemable racist. Of course if you do agree you’re still a racist, just one of the self confessed variety."

Another article that I have heard about but not read, purportedly says that Holder was right; that we are a nation of racial cowards, but in a different way than Holder meant. This writer said that we're cowards because we never stand up to anyone calling us racists. His point was that we should stop allowing every criticism of anyone who is black to be called racist, and allow that charge to keep us from standing up for principles in which we believe.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it." The national discussion about race always seems to be shut down this way: "If you disagree with my position on race, you are a racist." If you spend all your time assuming that the people you're talking with are incorrigible racists, then what is the point of having any discussion with them at all, Mr. Holder?

Allowing so-called black 'leaders' to say that anyone who is against some issue like affirmative action is a racist, keeps us from having any substantive discussions about such issues. And therein lies the point, Mr. Holder. The only way we'll stop being the cowards about race you accuse us of being is to stand up to the race-baiters and those who would stifle free speech by calling the other side hateful names.

This cartoon controversy is absurd. Obama didn't write the "stimulus" bill - Reid and Pelosi did. This bill is a horrific waste of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren's money to buy political power today. To ignore the message of that cartoon by trying to throw the racial epithet at it, and then for the rest of us not to say "That's insane, and you're obfuscating the real issue," is just one more instance of the cowardly nature too often forced into citizens who are trying their best to be fair-minded. It's time to use the first amendment, folks, and react honestly, openly and without fear when people try to slur you into silence.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
"All the cartoonist had to do was to add a typewriter near the monkey. Problem solved, doesn't offend anybody, and he makes his point about the bill."

All the cartoonist had to do was censor his original version of the cartoon so as to not to offend some delicate sensibilities? Wow, sounds like a great solution to protecting ourselves from offensive material. Which group shall I send my cartoons to for approval so as to avoid any backlash from people unable to read and/or comprehend the words I have written? The ACLU? NAACP?
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 20, 2009
I wonder how many chimps were offended about being linked to the stimulus bill?
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
Were you aware that you and your comic were mentioned on yesterday's Opie and Anthony's XM Radio program in connection with this cartoon?
 
 
 
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