Much has been made lately of a cartoon that Glenn McCoy drew, which used the Norman Rockwell image of little Ruby Bridges being escorted to a newly-integrated Little Rock school by National Guardsmen in order to comment on protesters who tried to block Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos from visiting a public school.
The above mashup has been circulating on social media with vituperative comments apparently being directed at McCoy.
I say "apparently" because -- perhaps because I curate my friends list to eliminate trolls -- I've seen it only posted by cartoonists who defend his freedom to draw what he likes despite how they, personally, feel about this particular piece.
I don't disagree with the concept of a Free Press, nor with the implicit concept of a confrontational press, since the most repressive governments in the world are happy to extend freedom to writers and cartoonists who agree with them.
I do hope that the cartoonists who are defending McCoy's piece, and who defended Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons and who defended the Charlie Hebdo cartoons would also defend the freedom of Philipp Ruprecht to create the cartoons he did for Der Stürmer in the lead-up to World War II.
I suspect they would.
Political cartoons, after all, should provoke thought, and should take on a more important mission than simply provoking young people to hitch up their pants and stop staring at their phones.
And I would also hope that cartoons would provoke thought in more positive directions than did Ruprecht's work, but, then where do you draw that line?
As I've said before, when a Danish writer complained that artists were intimidated by radicals from depicting Muhammed for a children's biography of the Prophet, Jyllands-Posten could have simply found an artist to do the job, and perhaps funded distribution of the resulting work, if their goal was to foil intolerance.
Their decision, however, to insult all Muslims is certainly included in the concept of a free press, as was Charlie Hebdo's similar choice to insult all religions and to ramp up their attacks on Islam in the face of threats.
The potential outcome of purposely insulting a bully is not part of that discussion, or, at least, no more a part of the discussion than the potential outcome of a Philipp Ruprecht cartoon.
"I hope you know what you're doing" is an irrelevant remark as it applies to the principle of free expression.
For example, when Ann Telnaes compared Ted Cruz's use of his daughters as well-rehearsed political window-dressing to an organ grinder using monkeys to draw a crowd, that was free expression of opinion, despite the avalanche of threats and hatred she received from rightwing trolls, and the lack of support from her own newspaper.
And I stand by what I said then, something even more apparent in the wake of the Trump victory:
One of the oddities of our political scene is that the conservatives who criticize the climate of "victimization" and attack minorities for complaining over unfair treatment and condemn any demand -- even any request -- for politeness as "Political Correctness" turn out to be the biggest crybabies and whiners in our society, particularly since they're basically whining over (A) not being allowed to completely dominate the landscape or (B) being called on their inconsistent bullshit.
It sums up my feelings about McCoy's cartoon, which compares a prominent politician enduring a small group of people who disagree with her policies with a six-year-old child requiring an escort because people have very recently been murdered over the issue she represents.
DeVos, poor snowflake, was required to use another entrance.
According to Wikipedia, here's the treatment little Ruby and her family received:
Every morning, as Bridges walked to school, one woman would threaten to poison her; because of this, the U.S. Marshals dispatched by President Eisenhower, who were overseeing her safety, allowed Ruby to eat only the food that she brought from home.
Another woman at the school put a black baby doll in a wooden coffin and protested with it outside the school, a sight that Bridges Hall has said "scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us."
... her father lost his job, the grocery store the family shopped at would no longer let them shop there, and her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land.
But, while "What were you thinking?" has no place in a discussion of press freedom, it is perfectly valid in criticism.
I would rather McCoy defend his cartoon as a purposeful intent to distort, insult, and offend than as a case of simply not understanding its impact.
As noted yesterday, certain jobs require certain skills, and call for certain levels of responsibility.
Elsewhere in the Free World:
Before hanging up on the Australian prime minister, President Trump announced that he was cancelling an agreement of the Obama administration to accept some refugees from Iran and Iraq currently being detained by Australia in a prison camp in Papua New Guinea.
Among those unfortunates is a young Iranian cartoonist who goes by the pen name "Eaten Fish." He's particularly vulnerable because of a combination of obsessive-complusive disorder and PTSD from his experiences so far, which, in addition to fleeing his homeland, include sexual assault in the prison and purposeful teasing and mistreatment by his guards.
I'm sure the hardliners in the Iranian government will tremble when they learn that the Western nations are content to let refugees from their regime languish and die.