Opting out of the Whole “Sides” Thing…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, January 8, 2011

Even though I drew this cartoon last week Wednesday and it was published before the story of the Arizona tragedy broke over the weekend, I still got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Had I stepped over a line? The comedy comes from two partisans losing control in a highly exaggerated way. (Our new governor in Michigan, Rick Snyder, has gone to great lengths to emphasize the need for all Michiganders to work through our political differences.) I agree with Snyder and am optimistic, but I also have some doubts. This cartoon, I hope, is a fairly honest expression of that. Thank goodness I didn’t decide to have the man and women draw guns in panel three.

But I’m pretty sure why I would never do that, and the reason is sort of sad. Two cartoon characters drawing guns on each other just isn’t enough of an exaggeration. Which is to say, it’s much too believable for it to happen in the United States. Nothing funny down that road.

Related to this, there was a lot of discussion among editorial cartoonists this week about the quality and appropriateness of the cartoons drawn about the Arizona incident. Unique to editorial cartoonists, the first thing was to take to task those who draw the “weeping Statue of Liberty” type of cartoon. (It’s a hack move.) But then like any other online discussion, it quickly devolved into “sides” accusing “sides” of taking “sides.” (To be fair to cartoonists, it’s generally the non-cartoonists who take the discussion there.) This was my reaction and quite possibly, my manifesto:

I don’t know about you, but I get really tired of people trying to pull me into the infernal “sides” sinkhole. I mean, Palin used gun sites on a map for targeted congressional districts. There is no right or left to that — it was willfully reckless and can be addressed on that alone. There is no other “side” you are supporting by editorializing that Palin needs to act more responsibly. And it’s becoming fairly clear that the central issue with Loughner was the ineffective treatment of his mental health issues — drawing about that shouldn’t require a supposed conservative or liberal spin. Cartoons created solely to allow your grouchy friend with the cable news addiction to identify your “side” start to make a weeping Statue of Liberty look not so bad.

By the way, if you want to see what I think is the best editorial cartoon that came out of all this, check out Nick Anderson at the Houston Chronicle.

1 Comment »

  1. Jane said,

    January 15, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    I like the concept behind the Nick Anderson comic but I really wish he hadn’t drawn the man as he did. His portrayal of a mental health patient, or one seeking mental health assistance is a hack move. Why couldn’t the man just look like a man? That would have made a much larger impact.

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