Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ug. Another Reason To Hate Journalists.

I'VE BEEN RELUCTANT to post this controversial image, a cartoon that ran in the New York Post last week, for obvious reasons. It is racist as all hell.

But there are larger issues at stake here.

We have established that print journalists cannot be censored before going to press unless there are very specific, dire circumstances. But how can you control the media and deter them from spreading offensive material like this? Is there a way? Should there be?

Legally, the cartoon was acceptable. Ethically, it is despicable.

How do you train journalists to be ethically sound, and who decides what is ethically proper?

Historically, political cartoonists have exaggerated the distinct appearances of public figures, such as President Barack Obama's rather large ears. Former President George Bush was drawn as a chimp on numerous occassions. Are political cartoonists now required to be politically correct when drawing people?

Is there a lesson that can be learned from this?

23 comments:

KevinRGold (j1111 class) said...

This image is VERY racist and it doesnt make sense that someone in a profession like a journalist would find something like this funny. It's ridiculous! (just had to get that out). I feel that something should be done to prevent things like this coming out to the public, becauses images like this causes controversy within alot of people. A journalist shouldnt have to be trained to be ethically sound, its something that should come as natural to anybody.

benjamin toledano said...

wow, i cant believe they actualy printed this cartoon. i am also suprised i didnt hear anything about this before. there should be a line of how far journalism can push race, even if it is done to make a point.
to kevin; sometimes these cartoons arent meant to be funny, they are done to make a point (correct me if i am wrong).

Jasmine Stanley said...

I first seen this picture when I was at my internship reading the new york post (randomly) and to be honest right from the moment I saw it I realized its racial connotations.It was taking a real current event and putting a raciest spin on it, many probably thought it was funny, i however did not. I will not be reading the new York Post again if not never than no time soon. I feel like many have perceived President Obama's election into presidency not only historic but a sign of change. For a racial incriminating cartoon to printed is insulting but for it to be printed in times like this even more insulting. It just proves that there is still some more change to be done.

Mike Revak said...

I couldn't believe it when I first saw this image on-line a while ago. How can something like this even make it past the editors when their job is to make sure the content is top notch and of the highest quality. This image was discussed in one of my other classes and not one person could understand how the artist did not foresee the consequences of this action. I don't know, but something like this just seems like so morally wrong that it's truly despicable that it even made it past the editors.

Stephanie Klock said...

Wow. I cannot believe that the artist is getting away with this. A couple years ago a student at Susquehanna University, i believe had on his myspace or facebook, a comment that said Burn Bush. He was charged. How can a person not be charged with this. This picture is far more suggestive of an attack on the president.. Suggesting that people who are not in favor of his policies or decisions act on it with violence.

Ridiculous.

Amanda DiStefano said...

You have to remember the history of certain things, and content of of the message. Bush being drawn as a chimp was to make him seem dumb. It was more of a humorous mockery. (not counting the "alternative" press news). This image is an animal being KILLED by a COP of all things. It totally is out of line as well as taking us back in history. African Americans have came up through a lot, way more than I could put into words. Given that history also makes this cartoon extremely offensive. I also think the concept is irrelevant. Obama will not save everyone instantly, and hand them a job. I think he is doing a far better job than McCain could.

Amanda DiStefano
(current Journalism and Society student)

Andrea Lorenzo said...

My professor actually showed me this in my race class. It is absolutely atrocious, but I think it's relevant to what we are learning (the law and ethics of journalism). I was going to send you the image in case you hadn't seen it. This should not have made it past the editors. No one should have allowed this to be posted, because there has to be SOME kind of law that forbids someone from making threats on the life of our president. I understand it's just a political cartoon, but if that was you laying dead on the ground, then wouldn't it be a threat to you? I believe the chimpanzee came from the story last week about the woman from Connecticut who was attacked by a friend's trained chimp... but that doesn't make it okay. The caption takes the cartoon to a WHOLE different level. People like this make racism permanent. If I ever come across anyone that let this happen at the New York Post, I am definitely going to spit on each of them. They should all be fired and charged with the threat on the life of President Obama. Unacceptable.

Andrea Lorenzo said...

Also... really quicky.... I just read the responses above mine. If you read this, try to see it this way:

The 2 WHITE cops have shot the chimpanzee dead. In the story of the Connecticut woman, the chimpanzee had gone crazy and lost control. This cartoon is saying that if Obama gets wild or out of control, someone is going to stop him.

I'M NOT SAYING THIS EXPLANATION IS OKAY. It's not. In fact, it makes this image more sickening, but that's how I interpret it.

Andrea Lorenzo said...

OH MY GOD, I CAN'T STOP.

Last thing: If you look closely, the sign posted on the pole on the left of the sidewalk says, "Beware of the Dog." I also think that is another racial suggestion recalling the dogs used to attack blacks throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

And didn't the Republican party wear shirts with Obama as Curious George?

Andrea Lorenzo said...

OH MY GOD, I CAN'T STOP.

Last thing: If you look closely, the sign posted on the pole on the left of the sidewalk says, "Beware of the Dog." I also think that is another racial suggestion recalling the dogs used to attack blacks throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

And didn't the Republican party wear shirts with Obama as Curious George?

Megan Minner said...

If everything and every perspective above me is right, WOW. There's so many ways to take this and in every way I think it is wrong. I blame the editors for letting this pass. Seriously, did they actually think it was going to be okay to post this?!? I mean just in general making it seem like our president is a monkey, or some kind of crazed animal is beyond disrespectful. Especially at this time and state of being our country is in. If anything, President Obama needs our support now to get through this recession.

Say goodbye to your career cartoonist!

Anonymous said...

GEO- this applies to all your blogs-- I think it's really difficult to actually enjoy sitting through a two hour lecture taught by a bunch of @$8holes that have no compassion what so ever nor care about what they're even talking about and I just wanted to compliment your teaching techniques and just the manner in which you present yourself to your class. I think I can speak for a majority of the class when I say that you have a really great understanding for young adults and know how to really get through to us. You're by far my favorite professor at Temple U and I really admire your passion and how you go out of your way to make our class time with you enjoyable. Just a quick thanks and a few compliments thrown in there for you, keep it up -KAT

Ahna said...

Obviously someone wasn't thinking about their readers when they posted this cartoon. I imagine that only a small percentage of people would actually find this funny. I don't think it should have been posted and I really don't like it, but there's a danger if journalists become any more restricted. The problem is that censorship rules and regulations come about to stop offensive posts like this cartoon, but eventually people will use the regulations to keep journalist from printing things that probably should be printed and that they should have every right to print. In a way, I feel that if we want to preserve the freedom of speech we still have, maybe it's okay that it was posted.

Joshua Rultenberg said...

This cartoon is pure racism at its finest. Complete garbage that should have never been released.

Naila Butt said...

wow! That is not funny how come someone can even print this cartoon it's just a racism and all the above is right then whoever made this and print this should be ashamed of themselves because it's a journalist job is to end the controvery and always tried to keep peace in thier country but this is just the opposite I just can't believe it that Niobe charged that person because racism is not allowed in my country AMERICA

Kayla A. lewis said...

Journalism is a business. I take this as New York Post's feeble attempt at some publicity. After all, publicity is only bad if you have none. Just shows how low some people are willing to go.

Mike Price said...

This cartoon is blatant racism, and the New York Post should never have ran it. The blame falls on the editorial board, who ultimately made the decision to run the cartoon. I'm wondering if political cartoonists are considered journalists? I've never considered them as such before.

Geo said...

Yup. They are considered journos. They even have their own category in the Pulitzer Prizes. No joke.

- George
(the teacher who just can't understand how this pic ever made print. Ug.)

Anonymous said...

Stupid cartoon, however something needs to be said. Did any of you happen to complain when during the Bush years many, many people said things like "Kill Bush"? Many of Hollywoods finest said that. Do you remember the on line video games called "Kill Bush Game", and "Bush Shoot Out" to mention a just a few. Any of you see the movie "Death of a President"? If it was OK then why isn't OK now?
(Actually it is never OK, my opinion)
Paul Klein

Anonymous said...

"Legally, the cartoon was acceptable."

Okay, good. That means that we haven't taken White Guilt to the point where we take a perfectly law-abiding citizen and prosecute him for exercising his rights.

Ethically sound? This cartoon may not be ethically sound. Personally, it doesn't offend me. I kind of chuckled when I read it. Not because I actually think it's funny (to tell the truth, I think the "humor" is too low-brow), but because I knew, on seeing it, that people would be offended. I don't think you can be ethically sound, because your ethics are always going to conflict with those of someone else. Racism will never "go away". Racism is a human trait you can't get rid of. I'm white. I'm a cracker. When I walk West on Diamond, do you think people look at me in a racially uncharged way? Fuck no. I stick out like a sore thumb. Because I am a minority, I am a common point of suspicion and derision. If I study abroad in a country with a different ethnic majority, I will be a minority there, too. Does it bother me? No. Does racism bother me? No. Because the same assholes who denounce it, also perpetuate it. I think a racist cartoon is perfectly ethical. If Chris Rock and Richard Pryor can push White stereotypes and ethnic slurs, then a Post cartoonist can draw a racist cartoon. It's legal, it's fair.

No one's creativity should be hindered by political correctness.

Matt Piccone said...

Dude I Emailed you about this like the day after it happened an you said you weren't gonna post it. Don't get me wrong I'm glad you did because I think it is something that needs to be addressed. I agree it is some pretty racist trashy stuff. I know Newspapers are grasping for straws right now but this is taking it a little far. This just fuels the fire of people who waste their time being racist, miserable people. I don't think you can train someone to ethically sound. I think it has to with the environment in which you were raised. It isn't even the fact that Obama was drawn as a monkey the thing that tics me off is the fact that this "obama monkey" is being shot there is just no room for it in journalism I think.

Jenny A said...

i cant believe that this was approved to be used. its not like the author just drew it and put it in the paper...someone had to give it the OK. I think that it is totally backward thinking and ridiculous.

Rob Stone said...

To be honest, I hadn't taken this as a racially charged cartoon when I first saw it a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was pretty common knowledge that Obama wasn't actually the one who wrote the stimulus bill, but that it was drafted by the members of Congress, meaning the officers in the cartoon simply could not have been referring to him. With that in mind, in addition to the fact that the bill itself was extremely lengthy and bureaucratic in nature, I saw the cartoon as an allusion to the fact that it was "written by a monkey," similar to the old adage that if you put monkeys in a room with a typewriter they will eventually produce Shakespeare. While it isn't a particularly well executed bit of humor, I didn't see this cartoon as offensive or racist when considering the context it was written in.

It's important in situations like these to be sure the context is understood.

What does it say about our society when we look at a cartoon like this, which is contextually not about president Obama at all, we jump to rash conclusions of racism?