Friday, February 20, 2009

Post cartoon sparks wrong controversy

It was bound to happen. President Obama signs a stimulus bill that will guarantee a deeper and longer depression, and a newspaper cartoon lampoons it in a way that ignites charges of racism. The cartoon suggests the bill was written by a monkey.

Monkeys could never be that destructive, though. The bill was the last thing a grossly indebted economy needs.

The New York Post could have attacked the stimulus bill in any number of ways. Given the politics of race, their decision to base it on the shooting of a chimp was bound to stir controversy. As worldly newspaper professionals, they knew the sentinels of political correctness would go ballistic. Without the uproar, the cartoon would've passed quietly into oblivion. As it stands, the whole world knows about it.

The stimulus bill, I'm guessing, was the product of mostly white elites. It was the bill's authors, not the signer alone, that the cartoon was lampooning -- though Obama, of course, shares in their guilt for the bill's passage. Written words and pictures are not a violation of the non-aggression principle, no matter how upsetting they can sometimes be.

Nor do I think the Post's position on the bill is in any way correct. The editors refer to the bill as "ineptly written." There was no way to write it eptly. That it was written at all is wrong.

Here's the Post's explanation, published yesterday:
Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.


But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
The people protesting the Post's cartoon should be unloading their wrath on Congress and the Administration for passing a bill that will be harmful to most people and further delay recovery.

On a side note, I was saddened to read about the chimp's shooting. I once had a pet squirrel monkey named Charlie Brown, and it was like a child to me. When our landlord made us give it up, I grieved for days.

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