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 CagleCartoons.com 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 mckee.cartoonistbook.com !”
Daryl Cagle is the editorial cartoonist who runs the CagleCartoons.com 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 www.darylcagle.com