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Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Cartoons, Free Speech, Immigration, Media, Political Correctness, Politics | 13 comments

Kill the Messenger (Daryl Cagle Guest Voice)

The controversial cartoon by Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

The controversial cartoon by Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Kill the Messenger
by Daryl Cagle

The Daily Illini college newspaper at the University of Illinois cancelled their subscription to over fifty cartoonists in my newspaper syndication package this week, in response to protests against a Halloween cartoon by Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle which featured a trick-or-treater climbing over a fence, saying, “I’m going as an illegal immigrant.”

In an online apology, The Daily Illini editors write:

“The person who selected the cartoon is currently on suspension due to regrets on the oversight. This choice was made out of carelessness, not out of malice. This student has learned an important lesson about carelessness.

We unfortunately cannot go back and erase it from yesterday’s paper, yet we hope this serves as a wake-up call in our decisions as an editorial staff. We apologize again, and hope that we can earn back the trust and confidence of our readers with each issue of The Daily Illini from here on …

We recognize that a statement can not recognize the hurt that this cartoon may have caused and we apologize for the perpetration of this disgusting stereotype.”

The website you are reading subscribes to my cartoon syndication service which includes cartoonists with a range of views from conservative to liberal. It isn’t unusual that we get complaints from editors about cartoons they disagree with. Often the complaints come with threats to unsubscribe if we don’t remove content that the editor doesn’t like. Sometimes we get demands that we “fire” cartoonists that editors or readers disagree with.

Since editors receive about a dozen cartoons a day to choose from they can easily choose cartoons that meet their preconceived world views and they always have cartoon choices available that will not challenge their readers. It is fascinating to see the change in attitudes among editors and readers as both liberals and conservatives become less tolerant and seek to punish those who hold opposing views who offend them.

It is usually the conservative editors who call in to complain about liberal cartoons that offend them. In the case of the Daily Illini, the complaints, and the subscription cancellation come from the liberal side of the spectrum – which fits the conservative narrative about “politically correct” colleges stifling conservative ideas. Our experience is that the liberal editors are usually the ones who print left vs. right columns and cartoons, while the conservative editors prefer to reassure their conservative readers by only reinforcing the views their readers already hold.

Rick McKee’s response made me smile:

“I think it’s a sad day for journalism whenever a newspaper feels it has to apologize for something they knowingly published. But I don’t blame the students. They’re just kids and they’re learning. I blame the politically correct atmosphere they find themselves in that exists on most U.S. college campuses. Our institutions of higher learning are supposed to be safe spaces where differing viewpoints are tolerated, but that no longer seems to be the case. There’s nothing racist about the cartoon and the notion that people should come into this country legally is an opinion that is widely held by many Americans. I’d also like to add that if you hated this cartoon — or if you loved it — my new book is filled with much of the same and can be pre-ordered at a discount right now at !”


Daryl Cagle is the editorial cartoonist who runs the newspaper syndicate, distributing editorial cartoons to more than 850 newspapers around the world, including the website you are reading now. Comments to Daryl may be sent to [email protected] Read Daryl’s blog at

  • joegandelman

    I have to add to this. I started The Moderate Voice in December 2003 and it became a group blog by 2004. I’ve written for The Week online and for nearly five years did a syndicated column for Cagle Cartoons. Not a WEEK goes by when I don’t get some emails or facebook messages from someone trying to ban an opposing view or taking great exception to a post or a comment. I know that some will now sic The False Equivilancy Police on me, but the fact is left, center, right are now almost all the same when it comes trying to remove a viewpoint or limit it, in so many areas.

    No, this isn’t just talking about the decade plus of TMV but about Facebook, response to my columns and emails on my pieces I did for The Week. Rage and outrage are prime components of our politics on so many fronts now. Just as there’s a 24/7 news cycle and social media is instantaneous, so is the tendency now to slip into outrage mode ASAP.. Once upon a time there was a delay as people pondered the meaning of things but reaction (rage, outrage, demands, threats not to read again) is now instantaneous.

    In the case of Cagle Cartoons, I have a large number of columns and cartoons I can choose from. Many do NOT reflect my view and I run some of them. If I really don’t like one, I can pass on it. And that’s no big deal (some people prefer fish to meat). But so many cartoons are offered from all around the world. Cancelling a service because an editor chose to run a cartoon out of a huge number is puzzling. But not surprising (these days).

    I’m sure this cartoon will spark some spirited discussion here at TMV. I need to add that over the years TMV has lost people who were modest donors of the center right and center left due to my refusing to ban someone from the site or remove a post they didn’t like.

    I saw this cartoon, but didn’t run it because I had many others I wanted to run and hadn’t gotten to even putting them up, And for another reason: I’m someone who had someone who was here illegally as his Little Brother in Wichita , Kansas, years ago and who has covered immigrants at the border in my old job on the San Diego Union covering the border, Reagan’s immigration reform and Tijuana so it wasn’t one I CHOSE to put up. I make my choices VERY quickly about what I’ll put up or pass on because I read so many posts, syndicated materials and cartoons. So this was no biggie. I merely chose another one — a process I do EACH time I choose cartoons to put up.. I’ve run many cartoonists by the cartoonist who did the one above over the years. And I’ve run many others by other cartoonists, who I’ve also many times chosen not to run in favor of using another cartoon by another cartoonist. I’m not obligated to use or not use a cartoon but in the end it’s my decision what I put on the site.

    I need to add that I run some other syndicated materials. I CHOOSE what I put up. And if readers were upset over one of the syndicated pieces I CHOOSE to put up from a service, I could let it stand or remove it. But I wouldn’t cancel using the entire syndicate when it had been MY choice to use it or not use it.

    I’ll leave the rest to readers in comments.

  • tidbits

    Attempts at censorship come from all sides, and I appreciate this article and Joe’s comment. First, I have to acknowledge that I would not have published this cartoon (except in the context of an article like this where it is necessary to understanding the piece) and can see why it would be offensive to some. But if others want to publish it, they should not be suspended, nor should the provider face cancellation of services. The story reminded me of an event in my own experience – not the same, but having similar elements – that I will share for what it’s worth.

    As Editor in Chief of the law school newspaper I authorized publication of a centerfold nude, a male law student posing jaybird naked in the faculty library with a strategically placed book . The issue flew off the shelves, receiving great praise from the student body (though the administration demanded to know how access had been gained to the faculty library to take the picture).

    But, while everyone loved the paper with the centerfold, I was approached by a small group of activist women law students who made it clear that, if I were to follow it up with an issue containing a picture of a nude female, there would be hell to pay. That was 1979, so maybe my point is that demands for censorship in the name of asserting a political viewpoint isn’t all that new a phenomenon.

    • dduck12

      Was it cold in the library?

      • tidbits

        I wasn’t personally present when the picture was taken, but heard no complaints about the temperature. 😉

        • SteveK

          There you go… Ruining another perfectly good mental image.
          Thanks a lot tidbits!

    • The_Ohioan

      And in including the male nude, your point was….?

      • tidbits

        No more than shock value, entertainment and increasing circulation. It succeeded at all three.

        • The_Ohioan

          So it is with many cartoons, it seems.

          My favorite cartoon has always been (and I’ve looked and looked and can’t find it – if anyone else can, I’d love to see it again) – Henry Kissinger portrayed as the Pope claiming infallibility. By Oliphant, I think.

  • dduck12

    I agree, in the world of anti-M_______ cartoons that inspire (?) mass murders, this is a minor one. Similarly , when schools listen to students or faculty to dis-invite a controversial (meaning they don’t agree with that person) speaker, that is also small minded.

    • Lorie Emerson

      Invited/ paid speakers UA a diffuct one, but I don’t see how you could get any speaker that held abt opinion with 100% consensus of the student body. There are cases, of course, where it would probably be highly inappropriate (especially a paid speaker who is promoted by the school), a KKK leader as an example. I think if I was Queen, I would try to have speakers that differred in opinion and run it debate style. I also Luke round tables where you have several experts arguing. Place a Keynesian vs an Austrian, for example, on a stage. Each gets to make an opening and closing 10 minutes, then moderated debate, then closing.

  • Lorie Emerson

    Just an editor trying to avoid responsibility for their decision, IMO. I would run the cartoon with anither cartoon next to it, perhaps the one (I believe ran here) that pointed out the irony of the lazy, drug dealing, rapist Mexican illegal immigrant who is also stealing your job.

  • The_Ohioan

    Like the Charlie cartoons, denigration or humor would decide it for me. A stubble faced child misbehaving and two other disappointed children doesn’t add up to humor for me – or even good satire, if that’s what’s aimed for. If the Daily Illini wants to print stupid cartoons, the students should just shrug their shoulders and continue studying. Just my 2 cents.

    • dduck12

      Agree. BTW, when I saw this cartoon, I mentally substituted a Nazi uniform and
      had the caption say: “This is how I can make my point more legitimate”
      as he crawls over the wall marked “Reasonable Discourse”

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