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Political Correctness, Free Speech & The Right To Draw

April 10, 2012

Consider this scenario: An editorial cartoonist draws a cartoon. The paper she works
for publishes that cartoon. Many readers are upset by the cartoon. They find it highly offensive. They loudly express their outrage and demand that the paper apologize. Not only does the paper apologize, it fires the cartoonist.

The paper was The Daily Texan, the student newspaper of the University of Texas
at Austin
. The cartoonist was a student named Stephanie Eisner. Here’s my own reaction to what happened:editorial cartoon in defense of University of Texas student newspaper editorial cartoonist Stephanie Eisner who was fired from The Daily Texan after doing a cartoon about the Trayvon Martin shooting

As you can tell, my sympathies are with Ms. Eisner. I believe the paper was wrong to censor her work, and wrong to fire her.

Here’s the cartoon that Ms. Eisner drew. You’ll need some background information (below) so you can put her cartoon in context.Stephanie Eisner editorial cartoon for Daily Texan which chastised the media for practicing yellow journalism in its coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting

On February 26, 2012,  there was a shooting in Sanford, Florida, USA. It took place in a private gated community of 263 townhouses. It’s an integrated community with white, black, and Hispanic residents. Trayvon Martin, a black teenager (17 years old) was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch coordinator. Zimmerman is part-white, part-Hispanic. Martin was unarmed, and, on a ludicrous note, was carrying only a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles candy.

Both men had a right to be in the gated community: Zimmerman lives there. Martin was staying at the home of his father’s fiancée, who also lives in the community. Zimmerman told police he followed Martin because he thought Martin was acting suspiciously. He also told police that Martin attacked him, and that he shot Martin in self-defense.

Self-defense laws in the United States vary by state. Florida law includes a stand-your-ground provision, which says a person is not obliged to retreat before using deadly force if he believes he is in grave danger. In Florida, a person may use such deadly force in a public place, i.e., outside his own home.

Zimmerman was taken into police custody, but eventually released. No charges have been filed against him. The shooting is still under investigation by both federal and state law enforcement agencies.

The case has been covered extensively by the media. Public opinion in the United States is divided along racial and political lines. Blacks and political liberals see the shooting as racially motivated: they believe Zimmerman shot Martin because he was black, and that Zimmerman should be charged with a crime. Whites and conservatives are much less apt to take this view.

Nationally syndicated cartoonists were quick to weigh in on the shooting. Most of them took a liberal slant and implied that Martin, the black teenager, was completely innocent, and that Zimmerman was a racist who shot Martin because he was black. The cartoon below equates Zimmerman with the Klu Klux Klan, which was notorious for lynching southern blacks in the aftermath of the American Civil War (1861-65).editorial cartoon which compared the Trayvon Martin shooting to racist Klu Klux Klan lynching people just for being black

This next one cleverly alludes to Harper Lee’s famous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, in which the mockingbird symbolizes goodness and innocence: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”editorial cartoon comparing Trayvon Martin to dead mockingbird an allusion to Harper Lee's book To Kill A Mockingbird with mockingbird symbolizing innocence and goodness

The following cartoon exploits the fact that Martin was carrying a bag of candy. It implies there are whites who would shoot a black child under the pretense of feeling threatened by a lollipop (sometimes referred to as a “sucker”). The cartoon also implies that Martin (the victim) was a small child, and that Zimmerman (the shooter) was a much larger adult. In truth, Martin was 6’1″ tall, about 150 lbs. Zimmerman is 5’9″, about 190 lbs.editorial cartoon on Trayvon Martin shooting which shows big white guy shooting little black kid because he felt threatened by the kid's lollipop

The cartoon below uses even more extreme imagery: it’s a Photoshopped film still showing President John F. Kennedy in an open car moments before he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Trayvon Martin was wearing a “hoodie” (a hooded sweatshirt) when he was shot. The cartoon suggests the Martin shooting was an assassination, and that Zimmerman shot Martin simply because he was wearing a hoodie.cartoon about Trayvon Martin shooting which exploits the Kennedy Assassination to imply good guys wear hoodies and racists are threatened by physical appearance of black people

Cartoons which resisted this rush to judgement were much harder to find. One such cartoon (below) summed up the tone of all the preceding cartoons: Zimmerman must be presumed guilty until he is actually found guilty– a clever reversal of a key principal of American law: one must be considered innocent until proven guilty.editorial cartoon about Trayvon Martin shooting which shows media condemning George Zimmerman and declaring him guilty until proven guilty

It seems clear to me that Stephanie Eisner was pointing out this rush to judgement in her own cartoon: the black victim is presumed innocent, the white man (actually part-white, part-Hispanic, and self-described as Hispanic on his voter registration) who shot the black victim is presumed guilty. She accuses the media of yellow journalism (reporting that is characterized by exaggeration, scandal-mongering, sensationalism, and sympathy for the underdog against the system). I agree with her on that point.

But she also made a spelling error (she misspelled Trayvon Martin’s first name), and
I think she showed poor judgement in using the word “colored” to describe Martin, as opposed to “black” or “African-American.” It’s possible she chose the word “colored” to
be deliberately provocative, to mock the charges of racism in much of the reporting. But it’s still a mistake, because for some, it’s a derogatory term that harkens back to the days
of racial segregation in the United States, when there were often separate public facilities for whites and “coloreds.” As such, it’s a distracting influence in her cartoon. It takes attention away from her main point: media bias.

Here’s her cartoon again, with problematic text highlighted:Stephanie Eisner editorial cartoon for Daily Texan which chastised the media for practicing yellow journalism in its coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting and showing misspelled Trayvon name and use of term colored for a black person

All the cartoons shown in this post, including my own, share a common trait: they are one-sided. They make no attempt to include contrary opinions or different perspectives. They are not above using shock tactics. Little wonder they are often found offensive and
in poor taste. That is the nature of the editorial cartoon.

College campuses are bastions of political correctness (an unwillingness to offend certain groups of people). A reluctance to offend is the enemy of truth and free expression. Stephanie Eisner dared to express an unpopular opinion. I applaud her for it– that’s an editorial cartoonist’s job. I think she showed poor judgement in using the word colored– but did she deserve to be fired because of it? No. Because there’s a larger issue: censorship. A newspaper that censors its own cartoonist is denying its mission. The pursuit of truth requires a free press.

Kevin Benz, editor in chief of CultureMap Austin, wrote an excellent article on the Stephanie Eisner Cartoon Controversy. Here are his concluding remarks. They sum up my own feelings very well:

The calls for censure are an attack on free speech, no different than those of tyrants and dictators who shut down the Internet when things don’t please them. And it’s our job as journalists and citizens, to defend Eisner’s right to draw and The Daily Texan’s right to publish, even when it may be disagreeable, even offensive.

There is simply no way to present cogent media criticism or present unpopular perspectives in a traditional news story, which is exactly why we need editorial commentary, opinion, letters to the editor and editorial cartooning.

Yes, we may choose to disagree with the opinion, we may even be offended, but the point is, good editorial opinion makes us react and think, and that is never a bad thing.

Occasionally we should be reminded of Voltaire’s poignant message: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Finally, here’s my own take on the matter again, along with a photo insert showing what Ms. Eisner looks like.editorial cartoon in defense of University of Texas student newspaper editorial cartoonist Stephanie Eisner who was fired from The Daily Texan after doing a cartoon about the Trayvon Martin shooting plus inset photo of Stephanie Eisner

What do you think? Do the benefits of editorial cartooning (e.g., free expression, they make you think) outweigh the negatives (e.g., questionable taste, disagreeable images)? Do you think one’s political ideology tends to color one’s judgement? Hope you’ll leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to subscribe. You can either leave a comment and click the box that says Notify me of new posts via email, or click on the Subscribe button below the Portfolio Thumbnails in the sidebar at the top right of this page.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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A Selection Of My Editorial Cartoons Spanning 2007-2010

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39 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2012 10:40 AM

    Of course she got off pretty easy compared to the Dutch cartoonist that drew Mohammed with a bomb in/for his turban. 🙂
    Humor is one of the last bastions of free speech we have for addressing otherwise taboo topics openly. Her drawing might have been crude and poorly worded but the sentiment is one many people share. I personally think the true crime is the stand your ground law that empowers people to acts of vigilanteism and that any racism was incidental, but I’d rather people speak their opinions openly and have them refuted in a public forum than whispered behind closed doors and never challenged.


    • April 10, 2012 4:53 PM

      Perceptive, and very well said. I especially liked your point about humor being essential for addressing certain topics. Sometimes it’s the only way, often it’s the best way. I suspect that political correctness drives much of today’s humor, and may explain why some of that humor is so coarse. I don’t think it excuses the coarseness, but I understand the frustration behind it.

      Many thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment– sincerely appreciated! : )


  2. April 10, 2012 10:55 AM

    Wow Mark, thanks for sumamrizing all of the facts and for including the wide range of political cartoons and our censoring of one’s with a certain perspective. A.J. Liebling said it best, “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.” If someone expresses a view different than your own, attack, attack, attack. The fact that this is becoming more prevalent in the media should be of great concern to all of us. We act like a mob when we jump to immediate guilt and calls for death when we are only told portions of the facts.

    We should all pray that we never have to be tried in the court of public opinion. I too applaud Ms. Eisner’s courage. What happened to her reminds me of Einstein’s famous quote, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” When we can’t even consider a different set of facts or convictions other than our own, we are rapidly becoming a nation of mediocre minds.


    • April 10, 2012 5:14 PM

      Wonderful comment, Tracey, I certainly do agree. The court of public opinion does seem to have replaced courts of law in society today. People are tried on the nightly news, and viewers are encouraged to visit the station’s website and vote or otherwise “join the discussion”– usually with limited facts, and/or “facts” that have been edited by newsroom personnel. There’s no longer a clear line between news and entertainment. When I read that many people get their “news” from late-night comedians, I have to wonder where we’re headed…

      Thanks again for a great comment, and for your ongoing support! : )


  3. April 10, 2012 12:13 PM

    This is a tough one: where 1 cartoon works for a particular geographic area, it may not work well at all in another area. Humour, satire and parody is also culturally based with hopefully some accuracy on truth/historical truth.

    The lack of understanding of the use of “coloured” (to me) shows over and over, the ongoing need to educate the public, the upcoming generations on history. It’s an ongoing effort that should not stop.

    Personally I didn’t see anything wrong with the cartoon that would necessitate a firing of a cartoonist. The use of the “coloured” was pretty stupid in my opinion and reflected an incredible naivete of not understanding the power of words –both derogatory and positive terminology.

    Cartoonists are known for their skill in visual illustration : however they should learn how to use language when language tends to be short expression in a cartoon. A cartoon, by virtue of the reality it is cultural /historical in context, does need a few words from the illustrator to put it into context.


    • April 10, 2012 8:02 PM

      Hi Jean, many thanks for your comment. It’s funny: I would have bet money that in the year 2012, “colored” (OK– “coloured” for you Canadians!!) was a term that all black people would consider derogatory. However… in researching the post, I thought to google the term “colored people,” and I found the following in the associated Wikipedia entry:

      Today it is generally no longer regarded as a politically correct term. However, even that is debatable, due to its continued accepted usage, most notably its use in the acronym NAACP. Carla Sims, communications director for the NAACP in Washington, D.C., said “The term ‘colored’ is not derogatory, [the NAACP] chose the word ‘colored’ because it was the most positive description commonly used at that time. It’s outdated and antiquated but not offensive.”

      As I’m sure you know, NAACP stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It was established in 1909.

      I still think using the word “colored” in the cartoon was a bad mistake. All my instincts tell me that most black people would consider it offensive. And as I mentioned in the post, it creates a side issue that effectively scuttles the cartoon’s intent (highlighting media bias). I’ve made similar mistakes, and I suspect most editorial cartoonists would say the same– it’s a very painful learning experience.

      As always, Jean, your support and input are very sincerely appreciated. : )


  4. April 10, 2012 2:26 PM

    Great post, Mark!

    On the one hand I’m pretty disgusted that everyone is judging Zimmerman in the court of public opinon. I don’t know what happened on that night, and neither does anyone else. It should probably go before a jury but that’s how we convict people in the United States, not by media. Also, Zimmerman is Hispanic. Do we call President Obama white just because one of his parents is caucasian?

    The cartoonist? I would have fired her behind too. We don’t use the word “Colored” anymore. You can test this idea: the next time you see a black person, go up to them and ask if there are any good Colored musicians playing in town tonight. No? Don’t want to say that to someone’s face? Then don’t make a cartoon about it.

    I am very strongly in favor of free speech. I am also in favor of firing racist workers who have offended people.


    • April 10, 2012 8:34 PM

      Hi Amelie, always good to see you here and get your forthright opinion, thanks.

      As I mentioned in my response to Jean, the communications director of the NAACP is on record as saying that the term “colored” is “outdated and antiquated but not offensive.” It’s my strong intuitive feeling, however, that most black people would find it offensive. I think using it in the cartoon was a mistake.

      I referenced Kevin Benz’s commentary on the controversy. One of the things he had to say was this:

      I believe that while Eisner may have made some mistakes (namely, misspelling Martin’s name), she succeeded in sparking debate by using a condescending racist term — “colored” — to describe the overly simplistic racial focus of media coverage. Her work is in the best First Amendment, free speech traditions, and she had no reason to apologize.

      I still think it was a mistake myself, but Mr. Benz’s take on the matter is interesting.

      Benz also quotes Doug Warren, The Daily Texan‘s faculty advisor, who said:

      “before we castigate student cartoonists and student editors at the Texan, I would urge everyone to take a deep breath. The Texan staff is learning — to do their jobs and about the impact that their work has on the members of the community they serve.”

      Every editorial cartoonist has to learn some hard lessons. I like to think Ms. Eisner would have learned from her mistakes, and I think she should have been given that opportunity. Free speech can be a messy business– I think we have to cut people some slack while they’re finding their voice.

      I sincerely appreciate your ongoing support, and thanks again for sharing your valued opinion! : )


      • April 10, 2012 8:44 PM

        Maybe I spoke hastily, Mark, I do think depending in how Eisner responded (I think everyone should have a chance to explain the vision in their art) it may have just come across more poorly than intended.

        What got me a bit revved up was not the words alone, but the whole tenor of the piece. As much as I bet both parties may have not been innocent, the kid is now dead. Any mocking of him (even very very indirect and unintended) is kind of a bad idea. The hearts and sarcastic mention of innocence is a bit much.

        But you opened my eyes, maybe she was judged too harshly and should have been allowed to explain.


  5. Aaron the Ogre permalink
    April 10, 2012 2:45 PM

    Hey there Mark. The Eisner story has bothered me for quite some time. I saw the ‘toon when it first came out and listened to all the complaints. I’ll be posting my thoughts on it again in a second ‘toon about this situation. My first one is here:


  6. April 10, 2012 4:16 PM

    Mark, this is fascinating. I love being about to get the take on this from a professional cartoonist. I have to agree with you. And love the cartoon you did about the cartoon. ( What do you want to be me the French have a word for that.) She should not have been fired for that carton. And if she was then the person who approved it should have been fired as well. You’re right in that she needed to use “black” instead of “colored” but she is only a student which means she is there to learn stuff like that! Hello!


    • April 11, 2012 8:07 AM

      Hi Linda, thanks so much for your very perceptive comment.

      You raise a point that hasn’t gotten much attention: namely, that the paper’s editor and/or editorial board wasn’t doing its job. Someone should have at least caught the spelling error (those always hurt one’s credibility), and I’d like to think an alert editor would have seen the potential fallout from using the word “colored.” I’ve had editors who have saved me the embarrassment of spelling errors, and who have suggested I might want to rethink my terminology. It’s helpful to have that second set of eyes. We get too close to our own work, and it’s hard to think clearly in the heat of battle, so to speak.

      And you’re right: it’s a learning experience. None of us would have a chance to learn very much if we got fired every time we made a mistake. Some of us have to make a lot of mistakes– I speak from experience!! : (

      Always a delight to have you check in– thanks, Linda! : )


      • April 11, 2012 10:39 AM

        I agree. You have to have a second set of eyes especially when you’re inexperienced and young. I hope that girl benefted from the experience in that she got a lot of attention for her creativity and spunk. I hope she doesn’t get discouraged.

        Always enjoy your stuff Mark! 🙂


  7. April 10, 2012 5:40 PM

    This event of the shooting of Trayvon Martin has been mentioned over in the UK news also. I feel for Ms.Eisener. She was only doing her job and had to be slated for such a tedious thing as this. It is definitely political correctness gone mad, almost everything is taken in such a manner that goes overboard.

    Perhaps Ms.Eisner was wary of using the term ‘black’ and thought ‘coloured’ would be more suitable? To be honest, in this day and age people sometimes have no idea which term to use. Over here there’s been a case where the nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep has been changed to Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep and Baa Baa Little Sheep so as not to offend people; although that rhyme was meant for the wool tax in medieval times.

    But back on topic, I can see how when someone reads the cartoon, they would think as to why she used the word ‘coloured’. Even I thought that when I saw it. However, it can be hard to make a hard-hitting story like this as a central topic for some sort of comic relief. And the media itself likes to take stories into their own hands, warp it so it seems that there is the good versus the bad, just so they can get a quick reaction and end the topic without the need for hard evidence.

    It is an unfortunate world that we all live in, and I agree with what crazycrawfish said. Our free speech has literally gone in a downwards spiral and in no way are we ever able to easily express our minds in case of an offence to another person.


    • April 11, 2012 1:54 PM

      Many thanks, Sabine, for that informative and insightful comment.

      Your tale of Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep was quite a head-slapper. I guess I’m not surprised, though. I know I’ve read of similar cases. I think someone wrote a book called Politically Correct Fairy Tales, or similar. Clever idea, as I doubt there’s ever been a fairy tale that didn’t stereotype someone or present some occasion for taking offense. It’s a shame. We all seem so ready to take offense these days. Nobody wants to be “disrespected.” And it goes far beyond racial identity. Unfortunately, when one is primed to take offense, one is predisposed to interpret another’s behavior as offensive. Sigh…

      I like your take on the media: twisting a story so there’s a good guy and a bad guy, and by extension, a simple solution. It does everybody a disservice.

      Free speech is worth fighting for. Nowadays one hears the expression “hate speech.” Too often it’s what used to be accepted as free speech, but now it’s hate speech because someone hates your opinion as well as your being able to express it. A clear danger signal for freedom of expression.

      My sincere thanks for taking the time to share your valued opinion, and, as ever, for your kind support!! : )


  8. April 10, 2012 7:07 PM

    I agree with Mr. Benz, especially this part:

    Yes, we may choose to disagree with the opinion, we may even be offended, but the point is, good editorial opinion makes us react and think, and that is never a bad thing.

    I also agree with the first comentator @crazycrawfish about the humor thing. 🙂

    Great article, Mark! 🙂


    • April 11, 2012 8:13 AM

      Well said, Inge, thank you.

      Yes, I’ve often thought that the real reason we get upset by a cartoon is that it forces us to think. That can be a very painful experience. I know it always makes my poor little brain hurt… : (

      Your comment and your cheery support are both very sincerely appreciated!! : )


  9. samianquazi permalink
    April 10, 2012 9:03 PM

    Mr. Armstrong,

    Hi, I’m Samian, and I’m the guy responsible for the petition movement to get Ms. Eisner reinstated. You can check out the petition here (as well as the Petition Updates):

    I spoke with the Daily Texan editors (and gave them the petition) earlier this afternoon. Unfortunately, they weren’t too receptive…
    It’s a long story.


    • April 11, 2012 8:32 AM

      Hi Samian, many thanks for bringing your petition to my attention. Nice to see you have the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists supporting your efforts to have Stephanie Eisner reinstated as editorial cartoonist at The Daily Texan.

      I was happy to sign the petition, and I hope others will, too. I’m very impressed with what you’re doing. Best of luck to you.


      • samianquazi permalink
        April 11, 2012 2:40 PM

        Thanks. I actually spoke to 3 members of the editorial board yesterday, including the editor-in-chief, in a private meeting where I gave them a copy of the petition. It was rather tense.

        To keep a long story short, the editor-in-chief maintained that she wouldn’t run any more of Ms. Eisner’s cartoons for the remainder of the semester. The reason for this was that she felt that any new cartoon of Ms. Eisner’s would be very closely scrutinized and that it could potentially just trigger a new controversy.

        She said that in the summer and fall semesters, and later, there’d be a new editorial board and that Stephanie could apply again (or in another department) as she wished. But as long as she was editor-in-chief, she had to act in what she felt “were the best interests of The Daily Texan.” Which is quite unfortunate.


        • April 12, 2012 6:03 PM

          Hi Samian, thank you for the update.

          I admire your courage, and I’m sorry the editor chose to disregard your petition. It occurs to me that in the case of a student newspaper, staff and editorial boards change from semester to semester. That’s probably a very big factor here. The current editor and editorial board can opt for censorship in the short term, knowing they’ll be gone next semester, and won’t have to face any long-term consequences for suppressing free speech.

          It’s a bigger problem for The Daily Texan newspaper itself, and for UTexas, however. Supporting censorship severely damages one’s reputation– it’s not an easy thing to recover from. They’ll have to live down something that no paper or university wants to be known for: they didn’t think free speech was worth defending, and they weren’t willing to take the heat for same.


  10. andrea permalink
    April 11, 2012 1:13 PM

    Political Correctness: the bane of every philosophy class and intelligent thinking. Did anyone ask Eisnar if she used coloured on purpose! You stated it harkens back to the old days…would that be the days of racism and mistreatment of blacks…old days! ! !

    It also begs the question, white/black people – what the hell does that mean. Is Zimmerman, white, 1/2 white, 1/2 hispanic, what is the correct term for mixed race and please don’t say mixed race I need to know what mixing. I am part english, dutch and spanish, what does that make me, white or Hispanic in the proper usage of the word (not the American version). Apparently having a spanish sounding last name qualifies for hispanic in the USA, hence zimmerman must be white.

    Damn all PC to hell.


    • April 12, 2012 4:49 PM

      Thanks for your comment, Andrea.

      Some people use political correctness to intimidate and stifle dissenting opinions. It just drives those opinions underground, so to speak. The resulting anger and frustration makes it hard to have a civil discussion about issues. It’s a shame, because I think it’s a lot easier to be civil if one’s opinions aren’t immediately attacked.

      Many thanks for stopping by and sharing your views.


  11. April 12, 2012 5:36 PM

    I like your cartoon reaction for what happened with Ms. Eisner.

    Well, I’m not an American, but sometimes it made me think of something like this… white Americans always think highly of themselves and considered always that black Americans are the minorities but then look at you all now Americans , who is your President?

    I wish everyone of us in the world should treat everyone as their equals…if not at least love other as you love yourself or don’t do unto others what you do not want others do unto you
    (found in the Holy Bible Proverbs)… hehehhe

    Mark, you are my editor in chief, if I said something not right in here, you can delete this comment.

    hahaha Thanks 🙂


    • April 12, 2012 6:33 PM

      My Dear Dolly: I have read your comment thru several times, and I would not change a word. You said a lot of things right! : )

      It’s good to be reminded that here in America we have made a lot of social progress in the last 50 years. That includes great strides in racial equality and equal opportunity. Things are not perfect, but it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. My grandparents would not recognize American society today.

      People treating each other as equals. Well said. That is my wish, too. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There simply is no better rule, IMHO.

      It is a delight and a pleasure to see you here, and thank you for your extremely important reminders. I’m proud to be your editor in chief!! : )


      • April 12, 2012 6:50 PM

        Thanks 🙂 I feel safe. I love Americans, my sister and her family are… and it hurts if I see them fight over the matter of their colors… hehehhe
        I am mixed colors by the way so that’s made me Toothsome 🙂


        • April 12, 2012 8:22 PM

          You are clearly the perfect mix. Get some DNA samples made up. We need to clone you and spread you around the globe, then all will be well!!

          Oh wait, that’s not going to work, there’s only one Toothsome, she is unique… : )


  12. April 12, 2012 11:05 PM

    Your article was outstanding, Mark. I’m tired of political correctness. I’m tired of trial by media. I’m tried of racial ranting, regardless of which race it is that is ranting. IMHO the cartoonist should not have been fired.


    • April 13, 2012 9:39 AM

      Many thanks, TT. I think you’ve done the impossible: in four short sentences, you’ve summed up the entire post!! : )

      Always a pleasure to have you stop by, thanks so much for all your support– it means a lot.


  13. April 13, 2012 1:50 PM

    Hugely enlightening post … the mighty sword, the mightier pen, the mightiest establishment!


  14. April 16, 2012 1:17 PM

    I hate to join the discussion as a wet, no let’s just say damp, blanket, Mark, but your theme line “Because nothing succeeds like good humor and good illustration” says it for me. In my opinion Ms Eisner’s cartoon is not a) very funny and b) not exceedingly well-drawn. I hate to see anyone get fired for being politically incorrect though. My theme line has always been “Show me a great piece of humour (I’m Canadian) and I’ll show you someone getting hurt.” (Actually, I just made that up.)


    • April 17, 2012 7:14 AM

      Hi Peter, many thanks for your slightly damp comment… : )

      We welcome all blankets here, but I think you’re being much too harsh in calling yourself a wet or damp one. Not at all!

      No argument re Ms. Eisner’s cartoon not being particularly well-drawn. I never worked for my college paper– missed a great opportunity there, sad to say. But if I had, I know my work would have been on a par with Ms. Eisner’s, perhaps worse. A perceptive chap once opined that every artist has ten thousand bad drawings in them, and I believe it. And there’s no way to skip that step– one just has to do them, and get rid of them ASAP! So I can sympathize with Ms. Eisner on that point.

      Humour (O Canada!) and hurt– yes, they so often go together. It’s still hard to top a guy slipping on a banana peel… : P

      Must tell you I love the vibrancy of your own illustrations– great energy there! Thanks again for stopping by. : )


  15. Margie permalink
    May 2, 2012 9:46 AM

    A vigilante carrying a loaded weapon – legally. Your country sometimes seems intent on destroying itself.


    • May 2, 2012 8:00 PM

      The United States was born in conflict, and it remains conflicted– perhaps never more so than now. We must struggle on, and with God’s help, find our way forward.


  16. kofybean permalink
    May 4, 2012 10:40 AM

    “All the cartoons shown in this post, including my own, share a common trait: they are one-sided.”

    Not only the cartoons but the comments too. There is nothing like watching a group of like minded individuals sit together talking about how right they are. Not much of a balanced conversation either, but at least you admit to it.

    The general concensus here is “yea, she was wrong for doing it, but since I wasn’t offended, that makes it ok and obviously means everyone else is too sensitive.”

    It took about 60 years of fighting for Plessy vs Ferguson to get overturned and he was only 1/8 black, and all he did was get on a bus. Zimmerman kills someone and since being only 1/2 white, so he’s obviously not white.

    This country will never change.


    • May 4, 2012 9:04 PM

      All views are welcome here, and I thank you very much for sharing yours. It wouldn’t be much of a discussion if we all felt the same way.

      And I think the same could be said about Ms. Eisner’s cartoon. It showed very clearly that she did not feel the same way as many other cartoonists and media commentators. She may have been unnecessarily offensive by using the word “colored” (which I think was a serious mistake), but she was pointing out the one-sided nature of much of the media coverage: Mr. Martin was entirely innocent, Mr. Zimmerman is 100% guilty, case closed.

      In other words, Ms. Eisner did not want to be– as you yourself phrased it in your comment– one of the “like-minded individuals… talking about how right they are.” Hers was a dissenting view. Your own comment points out the need for a “balanced conversation.” I agree. That’s why freedom of speech is so important, no matter what the issue.

      I sincerely appreciate your visit and your comment, and I hope you won’t see this as a rebuttal. An exchange of views is always a good thing. Thanks very much for taking the time to share your opinion, you are always welcome here.


  17. June 7, 2012 2:33 AM


    So sorry to find the long trail of comments this late.

    As someone close to Stephanie I was saddened by the irony: the one person pointing out that the media was manipulating public opinion became the target of the same media which orchestrated negative opinion about her! Which only confirms she was right on track.

    Thanks for your article, and for taking into account that this was a well intended student work– and a good guidance opportunity for the editing team of 5 (yes, five editors got paid to oversee and polish her work before it went to print. And kept their jobs for NOT doing their job)

    Let me point out a couple of things. First, the “controversial” use of the word “coloured” was due to her being raised in UK, which explains the spelling, and the intent to be subtle, not offensive, regarding race, as she was brought up to understand “coloured” as a more politically correct word than” black” when referring to people.

    Second, she was a Freshman, not a sophomore, and had not had enough time to notice the track of racial issues in the university of texas. That muck was there before she drew the cartoon; unaware, she got the blame for all history it seems.

    Thirdly, and this is the worst part, the outcome of this attack on her persona (not her cartoon) was a hate act itself, and nobody– no individual, no university representative, no ACLU intervened on her behalf or pointed it out. Although aware of their own mishap, the university didn’t step in to clarify, protect her identity (exposed and damaged for good) or her safety. She became, for months, the recipient of hate attacks online and in person, and her physical and psychological safety were at stake.

    And I am not even kidding, they picked the wrong person to label racist. I just love her, she’s one of the kindest people I know, a “diversity student” whose friends are of all shades, the great majority are black (may I say the word?), Asian, and Latinos. For her 1st college Summer she funded her way to Bangladesh and is spending 2 months living in an orphanage and studying ways to prevent the spread of cholera. But she is disheartened and lost hope in the system as a whole.

    Good way to destroy leadership and freedom of speech, UT and the media in general. I am disgusted, and would be proud if she changes universities!!!

    Who will dare to speak now, whatever the new sticky issue may be?

    What is the lesson taught here?

    What is America turning into?


    • June 8, 2012 11:05 AM

      Many thanks for your comment, and for sharing some important new information.

      I had not read anything to indicate that Ms. Eisner had a British background. That would certainly explain the way she spelled “coloured” in her cartoon. I did some online research after reading your comment. It appears that the term “coloured” is not considered derogatory in Britain, and that it may refer to Asian and Middle Eastern people, not just those of African descent.

      I agree with your second paragraph: there did seem to be an element of vindictiveness in the way the media covered the cartoon controversy, giving extensive air time to those who condemned Ms. Eisner. As you say, it seemed to confirm Ms. Eisner’s original point about the media prejudging the shooting. It was as if they were exacting a certain measure of revenge for Ms. Eisner’s implying that media coverage of the shooting had been one-sided.

      You make a telling point about hate. What happens to people who don’t toe the politically correct line? They are accused of being “hateful” for speaking their minds, and are then subjected to extremely hateful attacks by their opponents. The irony is overwhelming.

      Freedom of expression is the most basic freedom, and I think it’s also the most tenuous. Every time it’s suppressed, every time we allow that to happen, people become fearful, and less inclined to speak out. It’s something that develops slowly, and is all the more dangerous for that very reason.

      I hope Ms. Eisner can put the experience behind her, and that she will continue to speak her mind. Thanks again for your comment.


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