Monday, September 10, 2007

Making A Point Or Just Plain Offensive?

JEFF DARCY'S editorial cartoon in the Cleveland Plain Dealer last Wednesday sparked controversy in the city.

The cartoon depicts a little girl frantically running home, trying not to be shot.

But the cartoon was in response to the fatal shooting of a 12-year old girl who was caught in a crossfire. The child's family has ties to Cleveland's mayor.

Was the cartoonist simply trying to spark a conversation about violence, or was he being insensitive to the young victim's family? Was he calling out the mayor - saying that even the friends of the mayor live in peril? Or was this a cheap shot at the hands of an innocent little girl?

UPDATE FROM 9/14: The Cleveland Plain Dealer apologizes to the victim's family.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

The cartoonist was adding humor to a grave event so that people don't just graze over it as just another shooting. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
If he was trying to spark a controversy, this would certainly be the way to do because a lot of people probably would see him as an insensitive jerk, but any publicity is good publicity so it'd just add fuel to the fire.

Geo said...

Hey everyone - please put your name with your comments.

- George (the teacher)

Cassie said...

I believe the cartoonist was just trying to get people to think about this topic using humor, but he is pushing the envelope. The parents of the girl might have saw this and not find it funny at all. Humor is a powerful tool, but only for the right topics.

Kyle S. said...

Although the cartoon could be seen as offensive, I do not believe that was the cartoonist's objective. I think he was only trying to make a point about how unsafe the streets are. Yes, the killing of a 12 year old is tragic, but I don't think that people should show their disgust towards Mr. Darcy. People shouldn't be sensitive. I think he made a powerful statement by drawing this cartoon.

Jennifer DeLoggio said...

I think it would take a very cold hearted person to draw something like this just to spark controversy, or to bring humor to such a grave topic. I think what the illistrater is trying to do is to make people aware of the violence and danger in city streets. Especially as students in the large and dangerous city of Philadelphia, we can easily relate to the need for awareness of this violence, though it may be as random as being caught in a crossfire. As far as the claim to call out the Mayor, I don't believe that was the intention of this drawing either. I think that fact was thrown in by the media to draw negative attention to a political figure. The story here is not about the Mayor, it is that a 12 year old girl was shot accidently, and that this random and unfortunate event can happen to anyone at anytime.

Geo said...

Shouldn't the outrage be directed at the criminals, not the journalists? (And yes, even the editorial cartoonists are journalists.)

Shouldn't people be protesting in the violent neighborhoods rather than in front of newspaper offices?

- George (the teacher and devil's advocate)

Morgan Z. said...

I think that running the cartoon so close to the girl's death was insensitive. I personally believe that there's a sort of grace period that should exist between the time at which a tragedy happens and the time at which it becomes okay to make jokes about that tragedy, and anything within a few weeks just seems too soon.

And...
So what if the child's family has ties to the mayor? Just because you have ties to the mayor doesn't mean you're immune to bullets. I realize that the cartoonist's idea in drawing this picture was probably to make this point, but like I said before, it's too close to the child's death to start joking about it.

-Morgan

abby said...

The cartoonist was obviously trying to incite some type of discussion about the crime problems in Cleveland. However, I do not believe that his intention was maleviolent in anyway towards the mayor or even the young girl's family. I'm sure the journalist knew that his drawling would be controversial, but that is the point. Obviously, there is a crime problem in Cleveland, as there is in all major cities. Something has to be done about it if young children are killed in broad daylight. Maybe now with all of the city talking about it, some sort of action will finally be taken.

Marisa said...

I think that there should be outrage towards both the journalist and the politicians that the journalists is poking fun at. While the cartoon is crude and does seem to make light of a horrible crime if you really think about it he was probably not trying to mock the young girls death but rather the politicians who aren't responding and who are allowing things like this.
If people in close with politicians aren't safe... who is?
I think that was the intended message but I don't think it made it's ay through clearly.

Marisa Block

Kara said...

I agree, I don't think this cartoon was presented in the best way possible. Usually newspaper cartoons are quick, witty, and to the point. This one seems to be controversial in what it's trying to convey. My first impression after reading the cartoon was that Darcy was being sarcastic and trying to say the girl is not an appropriate or common target because she is in someway aquanited with the mayor. I don't think the journalist is to blame though, unless Darcy was intentially trying to be insensitive (which I'm sure is not the case).. instead Darcy is probably just doing his job as a journalist.. making people think, sparking opinion, and making people aware of the issue. Perhaps if the cartoon was more bland or run of the mill.. it would have not sparked controversy.

i think controversy is a good thing. it gets people talking.

kara mortellite

Geo said...

But shouldn't the journalist have respect for the family? Isn't there a way to stir controversy without portraying the young victim as a stereotyped cartoon?

Can't the child and her family have some dignity and privacy in this, the most intimate of moments?

Does the media have the right to use this child's death as a tool to curb violence?

- George (the teacher and devil's advocate)

Shannon Phillips said...

I believe that the display of the cartoonist was to make a point, not necessarily make controversy. I believe that he is trying to say that violence should be dealt with very seriously because anyone can be a victim, even the mayor's family. I don't think he was trying to offend the girl's family.

Anonymous said...

Political cartoons always have an edge of truth-- they are not the same as Looney Tunes! The ironic barb to me is on the gangs, who in their reckless hatred towards each other have no regard for the innocents-- especially children. Even among the lowest of the low in our society, there is an attitude of protection and concern for the helpless or there should be! Unfortunately the gang people probably don't read print media so the point is lost except for the irony.

Geo said...

This is just an aside ... how did you post a comment to the blog at 10:14 am when we were in class starting at 10:10?

- George (the teacher and astute observer)

Crystal Hawkins said...

Absolutely a cheap shot. The cartoonist needs to take into consideration how the child's family and their friends will feel. If Darcy wants to call out the Major of Cleveland, that's fine.. but he should have tried it with taste.

Brianna Anderson said...

The author of the comic was cruel and insensitive to the victim's family.

Chelsea Coia said...

I think that whoever came up with this cartoon is trying to make a joke out of a very serious situation. The problem with our society today is that people don't take guns seriously. We wonder why we have so many shootings...it is people like this that publish cartoons like this that is making fun of an innocent girl getting shot. If I was the family of this 12-year old girl I would be extremely upset and affended that someone is making fun of an incident that should NOT be laughed at.

Anonymous said...

I am usually the last person to call something or someone insensitive, but this is where a line must be drawn. This comic is not funny, it does not lighten the situation in terms of the feelings of the people who knew this little girl at all. If anything it would just make people take the situation lightly and it should not be. I think that the person who drew this a complete jerk for even thinking something like this up.

----Michel'le Daughtry

Anonymous said...

I think that what this cartoonist did was wrong. Did he not think of the parents and family of the little girl when he was creating this? Even if he was trying to spark a conversation, I'm sure he could have went about it differently. The manner in which he handled it makes it seem like the death of the little girl was a joke; something that was not a big deal.
-Brittany Leopanto

Anonymous said...

Yes, someone needs to draw attention to the amount of violence going on in cities. But to use a 12 year old's death to publicize that is terrible. If he wanted to get the topic attention, he should never have drawn so many parallels to that girl's death. He could have used any character besides a young girl, and it would have gotten attention without being so amazingly insensitive.
~Kim Wood

Geo said...

If you were a parent and this tragic thing happened to you, wouldn't you want to have something good come out of it?

Maybe this child's death is exactly the message needed to halt society's violent ways?

Isn't the journalist here really just saying that this poor child should be the last child killed, that we should all learn from this event?

- George (the teacher and devil's advocate)

Victoria H. said...

At first, after just looking at the cartoon, I had no idea what the basis was. Was it about a rough neighborhood? Local political corruption?

But after reading some of what happened, I think the cartoonist was insensitive incredibly. I don't live in Cleveland, but this story seems like it would be on the 6 o'clock news on local Cleveland networks because of the violent murder of a child and her connection to the Mayor, so if the cartoonist thought a "spark" needed to be started, they could have been more sensitive. There seems to be no remeberance to an incoent kid's death in the somewhat dark humor cartoon.

mary cait said...

I think that this cartoon is to show that anyone is vulnerable to be a victim. Also, I think it is to make the point that because it was a child whose family had connections to the mayor that this will get more publicity than a victim without connections, kind of like Andy Reid's son getting more publicity than someone else for drug charges.

Aleksaida said...

I wouldn't have a problem with the cartoon IF it wasn't talking about a real life situation that happened with a girl that just died. If it was just a random picture, then it would be fine.

Kaitlyn D. said...

I believe this cartoonist went too far. This is offensive to the parents. I realize he was trying to poke fun at the Mayor but by doing so he went too far and mocked the family.

Sarah Fry said...

Political/editorial cartoons are meant to send a message to the public. The messages are always drawn in a silly manor because of the nature of the art- it’s a cartoon. Sometimes there are starving Ethiopians in this section of the paper while other times it is the usual G.W. depicted as a monkey. In this case the drawing is of a girl who was murdered ten days ago, barley enough time for her family to even grasp the reality of the situation. In my opinion this cartoon came too quickly for the public to get any kind of message out of it. So what’s the point of publishing it? We all have heard countless times about the problems in Ethiopia and we all pretty much can agree G.W. might be a monkey- but we don’t know if Eric Wilson and Jame Yhonquea killed this girl because she is affiliated with the mayor, which is the major offense of the cartoon. These men were allegedly in a gunfight of their own and this was a stray bullet that killed her. It depicts Asteve'e with a t-shirt alluding to her connection with the mayor, which is confusing to many people, even myself. Maybe the artist wanted people to look at this and reflect upon why she is getting so much coverage because of her affiliation with a higher up and insinuate that enough is enough, but in my opinion if he was trying to do good he would have been better understood at this point in time by just writing an article. When one of the murderers is still at large (confusingly so if he called into 19 Action News to publicize and apology) wouldn’t it be better to focus on him and give the family some space to grieve.

Joshua McAdams said...

I completely agree with kaitlyn d. Also, at first glance i didn't even understand the point of the cartoon, this cartoonists message in my eyes has sadly taken the form of insult to injury.

natasha shapiro said...

Being one who usually not only condones satire and sarcasm, but revels in it, I felt that I would find this cartoon amusing and clever. After reading the story, however, I feel that this cartoon was inexcusably ignorant and insensitive. I recently had an innocent friend beat to death at another college campus for no reason at all. Like the young girl, he was the tragic victim of his surroundings and purposeless violence. I would never find it morally acceptable for someone to transform that situation into some form of joke, which I'm sure is exactly how the family and friends of the little girl feel. It's disgraceful and hurtful and there is absolutely nothing funny about it. I'm sure if it was the cartoonist's daughter, he would never think of turning it into a joke.

Anonymous said...

Though I do think that the author was a bit insensitive to the young girls family, I immediately understood the message the author was trying to convey. I think that the author has made a valid point regarding violence, and how anyone can be a victim, however if I were a member of the victims family I would find it offensive.
-Marissa Murtaugh

Anonymous said...

The cartoonist was insensitive and wrong for making a cartoon about the death of a child bystander. There is a much better way to shine a light on the fact that an area is unsafe then poking fun at it. The cartoonist should understand some situations just are not funny. If the cartoon came out before the Childs death then it would have been one thing.

Camille Booth

Anonymous said...

Though I can understand and see why the cartoon is seen as offensive, I highly doubt the cartoonist was aiming to be insensitive to a very serious and real problem in his community and others alike.

I am not trying to defend the actions nor say I think it was funny (I actually made a disgusted face, and mumbled a few unpleasant words after seeing it). But I think the cartoonist WAS trying to get attention and stir up emotions. Too many urban communities are suffering from violent acts of crime, and it seems as though citizens within these neighborhoods and outside them are turning the other cheek to ignore such...and even worse not making any steps to fight for a change. So this cartoon could have been drawn with the intentions to bring it (the problems of the city) in a form where one would have to pay attention, spark conversations indeed, and stress a change as the violence occurring, is no longer for a certain group of people anymore.
-myriam wilson

Anonymous said...

This author is simply trying to get a rise out of people. Jeff Darcy, with no care for the emotions of a family who lost a member, made a JOKE about the death of a 12-year old girl. Having lost a friend in an incident that played out all over the news throughout the spring of 2006 I remember being genuinly angry at how the media portrayed the events. Darcy took media insensitivity and the "business of journalism" to another level by publishing this cartoon. While I have never supported censorship and still don't, I do support tact and class, which are totally vacant from the "artist" of this work.

-- Bill Matz

Brittanie L. said...

Im a bit bothered that he apologized. I think the cartoon was a clever way to draw attenetion to the violence going on. It may have been a bit incensitive, but at least the issues out there.

Shelby said...

I agree with Brittanie, what does Darcy honestly have to apologize for? For publicizing the amount of violence within this area? For showing that no one is truly safe, not even an innocent 12 year old girl who happens to be related to the mayor?...insensitive maybe but something to have to apologize for, absolutely not.