Thursday, February 11, 2010

Telegram tries passing the buck on controversial cartoon

Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, the Telegram and Gazette published a political cartoon on their opinion page that showed two relief workers piling up dead bodies while discussing Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. The cartoon wasn't funny or particularly thought-provoking. But apparently it was controversial, as a number of readers wrote letters to the editor to protest it's insensitivity. Here are excerpts:
The insensitivity to the suffering of the Haitian people and what they are experiencing is second only to the stupidity and careless disregard of the Telegram & Gazette in printing such trash.
Did it occur to anyone at the T&G how this would affect families and friends of both victims and volunteers in Haiti? If a student at a school had drawn this, they would have been suspended and recommended for psychological evaluation.
I’m utterly disgusted that a local newspaper, that teaches so many families across this state, would publish something as tasteless as this. Turning the catastrophe in Haiti into a joke is an incredibly low and vile thing to do.
What is funny is the Telegram's handling of these complaints. Here are the headlines the Telegram editors slapped on these letters:
  • Disgusted by syndicated cartoon
  • Syndicated cartoon insensitive to Haiti
  • Syndicated cartoon was in poor taste
The editors want to make it clear to you that this was a syndicated cartoon. In other words, don't blame us for what some jamoke in a studio somewhere decided was funny. (One of the three letter writers did note that it was a syndicated cartoon, but the other two did not).

Of course, the Telegram has dozens of syndicated cartoons to choose from each day. While the Telegram's in-house cartoonist may not have drawn this one, it's editors still needed to decide which cartoon to run. Just because it is "syndicated" doesn't absolve them of their responsibility.

Here is the cartoon. You can decide for yourself if it's offensive or not:

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