February 24, 2009 7:44 AM
Cartoonist Ed Stein online at 11 on his work, the 'dead chimp' cartoon and drawing the new President
How are editorial cartoonists treating President Barack Obama? Was the New York Post's "dead chimp" cartoon offensive?
Rocky editorial cartoonist Ed Stein will be online at 11 a.m. to talk about those issues and his work.
Stein's response to the New York Post's controversial cartoon:
I normally don't like to weigh in on the drawings of other cartoonists, but the outrage sparked by the deranged chimp cartoon by Sean Delonas of the New York Post begs a comment. The cartoon in question shows two policemen and the body of chimpanzee full of bullet holes. One of the cops is saying, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
First off, I don't know Mr. Delonas. He may be a perfectly wonderful fellow; I generally enjoy the company of cartoonists, regardless of their political bent. I'm good buddies with Mike Ramirez and Scott Stantis, and get along famously with Mike Lester, three of the most rabidly conservative cartoonists in the land. So, trust that what I say isn't colored by any political bias.
How can I put this politely? I've never thought of Delonas as a particularly skillful cartoonist. I've never been partial to his drawings, and I've never seen one of his ideas that I'd wished I'd thought of, the second highest compliment one cartoonist can pay another (the highest is stealing the idea and redrawing it with just enough differences that it can't be called plagiarism). The chimp cartoon is a real puzzler. The story of a crazed monkey being shot by police after attacking a woman isn't the kind of thing I'd gravitate to as an apt metaphor for much of anything, much less for the stimulus package. I generally like my metaphors to have some kind of resonance with the subject at hand, or at least to be in the same solar system. The chimp thing is what we call in the business "a reach." In this case, a very, very long reach.
As I said, I don't know Delonas, so I have no way of gauging if his cartoon was meant to have the racial overtones that have been attributed to it. Many readers came to the obvious conclusion that Delonas was comparing Obama, our first Black president, to a monkey, in the grand tradition of American racism. It may well be that the cartoon was just another one of his awkward attempts at being funny, but if a racial taunt wasn't his intent, then he should have known better than to come up with this turkey (to inject another species into the mix). It's not as though it's a big secret that our sad racial record includes a long history of comparing Black people to apes. Even if he didn't know what he was doing, some editor at the paper should have saved him from himself. .