OURVOICE

OURVOICE:
In reference to the political cartoon the Surveyor published in last week’s edition:
This cartoon portrayed an incredibly charged topic in the media and, although the vast majority of what we represent in our paper pertains to issues of local importance, and many light-hearted and inspiring subjects, we felt remiss to exclude this national topic – even if it was only represented in a political cartoon.
It is naive to think the staff of the Surveyor agrees with every opinion that is printed on the Opinion page. That would be impossible as we routinely make room for diametrically opposed opinions and thoughts a single individual could not hold.
That particular cartoon was interpreted in multiple ways by the people who work at the Surveyor. That was why we chose to run it – it was intended to make one think and consider the complexity of the border situation. It was visually shocking and was intended to be so. It wasn’t clearly one-sided as many of the other cartoons we had to select from were. In fact, we took much more time than usual choosing which one would appear, as our other options were grossly one-sided and a few would have been found even more offensive on both ends of the ideological spectrum.
One interpretation was that the gang member represented what many of those attempting to seek asylum in the U.S. are trying to escape. Others saw it as a gross caricature of how political forces have depicted those crossing the border illegally. Clearly from the array of responses we have received, both in favor and opposed to it, others interpreted it in a vastly different way from all of the above.
Pertaining to the accusations of racism and bigotry on the part of the Surveyor and its staff, the man depicted in the cartoon – as evidenced by the tattooing on his body – specifically is shown to be a member of the ultraviolent MS-13 gang who are known for killing men, women and children. Unless gang members have become a race, this was not a depiction of race, but of a gang member.
Political cartoons are controversial; they are intended to be. They play a role in the political discourse of societies that have free speech. They include irony, symbolism, analogy and exaggeration – they point to problems and discrepancies of political and cultural situations. This cartoon did all of those things.
Pertaining to the accusations that this cartoon would lead to violence; if words and pictures are deemed by society as causing violence, ANY words of criticism or negativity could be viewed as spawning violence. Have you said anything negative about our government at any point? If this becomes our standard, those words could be said to elicit a violent response against our government and you would be charged accordingly. Saying words and images lead to violence is a slippery slope for society, and not one the First Amendment to our Constitution would support; direct threats yes – opposing views, no matter how repugnant you may find them, no.
Interestingly, this cartoon has seemed to function as a political cartoon Rorschach test, as people have interpreted it in a variety of ways.
Being on the ideological side of history that believes in censoring and silencing is not the side the Surveyor will ever be on. The satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo was firebombed in 2011, followed by an attack in 2015 by two Islamist gunmen who killed 12 people due to the magazine printing cartoon images depicting the prophet Mohammed. Many of the cartoons are vulgar, but, as a publication that strongly supports free speech, we support their right to print these images and not live in fear of being silenced. We urge our readers to consider this very carefully; today the people you vehemently disagree with are silenced and, before you know it, you will be silenced too.
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