Complaints Lead Washington Post To Drop Cartoonist From
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 23, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--The work of a political cartoonist has been dropped from the WashingtonPost.com website after the publishers received numerous complaints about a November 4 cartoon.
Cartoonist Ted Rall said he drew the cartoon to mock supporters of President Bush in the wake of the November 2 election.
The four-panel strip showed a child, apparently with physical and mental disabilities, being put in charge of a classroom. Caption balloons depict the "special needs" child drooling and saying "erp", "goomba goom" and "weh".
Advocates from at least two disability rights email listserves launched writing campaigns to complain to the Post about the insulting nature of the cartoon.
Michael Getler, the Washington Post's ombudsman, wrote Sunday that the cartoon never ran in the print edition of the Post, but was published on the paper's website. Rall's cartoons were automatically published on the site, Getler said. While editors select cartoonists for the site, they do not pre-select or edit the cartoons, he explained.
The Post has since decided to drop all of Rall's work from its website.
Rall told the Editor & Publisher, an industry journal, that he realized too late that he may have defeated his own purpose with what he called the "boneheaded" drawing.
"The analogy obviously fell flat, or overshadowed the main point of the cartoon," Rall said. "More importantly, I forgot the editorial cartoonist's obligation to comfort the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. I got the latter in that cartoon at the expense of the former."
"Special-needs children face a lot of challenges; they don't need, or deserve, mocking from me . . . The cartoon was effective in its way, but it could have been better."
"Drawing Complaints, Online and Off" (Washington Post)
"WashingtonPost.com Drops Ted Rall's Cartoons" -- includes cartoon (Editor & Publisher via InfoShop)