Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Would You Print This Cartoon?

From the Wall Street Journal:

The New York Post faced a barrage of criticism on the Internet Wednesday after publishing a cartoon that some say compares President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee.

The drawing, by frequent Post editorial cartoonist Sean Delonas, whose work appears in the paper's Page Six gossip column, depicts a police officer holding a smoking gun he apparently used to shoot a chimpanzee. The caption reads, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

The cartoon refers to a well-publicized event in the New York City area: a pet chimpanzee that was shot dead by police after it attacked a Connecticut woman earlier in the week. Mr. Obama on Tuesday signed a nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package.

Monkeys have been used historically in pejorative portrayals of black people, and the New York Post cartoon immediately drew criticism, including from civil-rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton. Mr. Sharpton called the cartoon "troubling at best," and he called for a protest Thursday in front of the New York Post's headquarters in Manhattan. The Web also was filled with debate.

The New York Post defended the cartoon, and Editor Col Allan said in a statement that the cartoon "broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy." Mr. Delonas couldn't be reached. The New York Post is owned by News Corp., as is The Wall Street Journal.

This isn't the first time news organizations have drawn flack for their images of Mr. Obama. The New Yorker magazine generated unwanted attention last summer for a cover cartoon that depicted then-candidate Obama wearing a turban and long robe, with a framed portrait of Osama bin Laden behind him. The cover was intended to mock portrayals of Mr. Obama as a terrorist, but not everyone saw it that way, including the Obama campaign, which called the cover image "tasteless and offensive."

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