Where is the line in Political Cartoons?

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In summary, Legitimate political commentary? The NY Post's cartoon of a white cop shooting a black monkey is racist and insensitive.
  • #1
LowlyPion
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Legitimate political commentary?

Or latent racism?

http://www.nypost.com/delonas/delonas.htm

I'm with Al Sharpton on this one. "...troubling ..." he is quoted as saying.

You'd think that there would by now be a little more sensitivity to racial issues on the part of the NY Post
 
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  • #2
LowlyPion said:
Or latent racism?
Why on Earth do you think "racism" when you discover this cartoon ? It's just a joke, and I simply don't understand why it should have anything to do with racism. From my perspective, you just related it to racism.
 
  • #3
The line should be drawn where you are infringing on someone else's copyright or inciting violence (tough call sometimes).
 
  • #4
It depends on whether you consider Obama to have been the object of the cartoonist's "joke". If it had been a bunch of monkeys the message would not lead you to think of Obama as being singled out. Comparing Obama to a monkey would be extremely racist, from the viewpoint of an American.
 
  • #5
Evo said:
It depends on whether you consider Obama to have been the object of the cartoonist's "joke". Comparing Obama to a monkey would be extremely racist, from the viewpoint of an American.

Oh, I assumed it was just a monkey, as in if an infinite number of monkeys could write shakespeare, this bill was written by one monkey - tops.
 
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  • #6
humanino said:
Why on Earth do you think "racism" when you discover this cartoon ? It's just a joke, and I simply don't understand why it should have anything to do with racism.
It's probably not a common slur outside of the US and UK (where it became popular in the '80s, during football - read soccer - matches when teams had few black players) and a few other countries (like Australia and Brazil, where the slur is used against an aborigine).

Sharpton said:
The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling, at best, given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.
 
  • #7
humanino said:
It's just a joke, and I simply don't understand why it should have anything to do with racism.

That may be well and good from your defensive perspective, but the fact that it would be found to be offensive by others - maybe a large number of others - should at least suggest that from the perspectives of these others that the cartoon is drawing from an unfortunate well of connotation and alternate entendre.

A cartoon that is prima facie 2 white cops shooting a black monkey with the monkey the inferred author of the stimulus package I'd say shows more than a little insensitivity and poor judgment.
 
  • #8
LowlyPion said:
That may be well and good from your defensive perspective, but the fact that it would be found to be offensive by others - maybe a large number of others - should at least suggest that from the perspectives of these others that the cartoon is drawing from an unfortunate well of connotation and alternate entendre.

A cartoon that is prima facie 2 white cops shooting a black monkey with the monkey the inferred author of the stimulus package I'd say shows more than a little insensitivity and poor judgment.
The monkey-racism link is completely foreign to my culture, which is why I missed your point. Besides that, political cartoonism in Europe is rather wild, and has already been criticized when picturing some international events, which is the background of my defensive perspective.
 
  • #9
Considering a crazed chimpanzee made national news the last day or two, I wouldn't have made any racial connections.

It's definitely a cartoon with a short shelf life. Without the context of current events, I can see where a reader would be puzzled about where the chimpanzee idea came from.
 
  • #10
LowlyPion said:
Legitimate political commentary?

Or latent racism?

http://www.nypost.com/delonas/delonas.htm

I'm with Al Sharpton on this one. "...troubling ..." he is quoted as saying.

You'd think that there would by now be a little more sensitivity to racial issues on the part of the NY Post
I don't understand the connection between the stimulus bill and the shooting of a chimpanzee by police. Congress wrote the stimulus bill and Obama signed it.

There was that incident where a 200 lb chimpanzee attacked a friend of the chimps owner, but I still don't see the connection with the stimulus bill. The police ended up shooting it.

Just one more reason not to read the NY Post.
 
  • #11
BobG said:
Considering a crazed chimpanzee made national news the last day or two, I wouldn't have made any racial connections.
It's clear where the chimpanzee idea came from. What I'm clueless about is the supposed connection between the chimp and Obama (other than the racist connection). Is this suggesting that Obama is on a rabid frenzy, out to maul the average American? I'm just not getting this joke!

Edit: I see Astronuc had the same difficulty.
 
  • #12
humanino said:
The monkey-racism link is completely foreign to my culture, which is why I missed your point.
Me too.
Back office.mainframe programmers used to be known as monkeys because they did the 'room full monkeys at typewriters' programming.
So simple changes were known as a 'one banana problem' - because you only had to feed the monkeys one banana to do it.
 
  • #13
Astronuc said:
I don't understand the connection between the stimulus bill and the shooting of a chimpanzee by police. Congress wrote the stimulus bill and Obama signed it.

That was my reaction. As a joke there is no apparent nexus that I can see - which to my thinking anyway is a critical element for a cartoon. It rather seems to be more a gratuitous opportunity to trot out some past shorthand imagery. Even though I was aware of the 911 call to shoot the monkey, it didn't register immediately with me that it was drawing that connection.

As a parallel example I think throwing a Swastika in a cartoon would be equally challenging to insure that sufficient nexus was established by the portrayal - and that it served as a legitimate commentary that would be assured not to be offensive to Jews - likely an improbable task.

The NY Post's response shows that the insensitivity is not just that of the cartoonist.
 
  • #14
In light of the monkey dolls being portrayed as Obama during the campaign, it was insensitive at a minimum to run that cartoon. Unlike most political cartoons, this one had no point that I could see, and there was no humor either. Bad editorial decision-making at the Post.
 
  • #15
"The bill is so stupid that it looks like a monkey wrote it". Seems obvious to me; the Obama race reference seems quite a stretch.
 
  • #17
mgb_phys said:
Presumably this ? http://www.reuters.com/article/mediaNews/idUSN1750384020090217
Sorry, the rest of us missed this Earth shattering event.

It sounds a lot more fun with the audio from the 911 call.

Neighbor Tony Macari said “he was just friendly. I can’t believe when I heard what happened. "

Funny, how the neighbors alway say the person (or ape) was the last person in the world they would have expected to go on a killing spree.
 
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  • #18
signerror said:
"The bill is so stupid that it looks like a monkey wrote it".
How did I miss that? I guess I was distracted by the cops tattooing bullet holes in the chimp's chest.
 
  • #19
There's clearly two lines of emotion running on the stimulus bill.

1) The stimulus bill is Obama's creation and he's killing the economy with it.

2) Congress voting on a stimulus bill they haven't even read is out and out crazed panic.

(Or out and out partisanship considering how the vote split. If your vote was decided before the bill was even finalized, reading it was unnecessary.)

However, the first two sentiments seem to be the strongest with the public. I assume the cartoonist belonged to the second group.

Stimulus Bill a Sorry Spectacle. This bill had to be passed on Friday because Americans are losing jobs every day. There's not a day to be spared. Never mind Obama didn't sign it until Tuesday.

But, yes, within 3 days, no one will remember the chimpanzee and the cartoon will look even lamer than it does today.
 
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  • #20
http://www.latimes.com/la-na-ny-post-cartoon19-2009feb19,0,7178947.story


N.Y. Post defends cartoon some say links Obama to dead chimp
 
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  • #21
BobG said:
2) Congress voting on a stimulus bill they haven't even read is out and out crazed panic.
Oh I don't know - it worked for all those Patriot act and Homeland security bills right after 9/11
 
  • #22
It looks to me like it's insinuating that the stimulus bill was written by a monkey and the cops shot the author of it. The cartoonist related the recent chimp shooting to it. As far as racism, I didn't see it. I think you would have to really read into it to get that. Now cartoonist can't relate monkeys to politics? C'mon.
 
  • #23
Gokul43201 said:
How did I miss that? I guess I was distracted by the cops tattooing bullet holes in the chimp's chest.

Yes, it uses a current event as a template for the joke.
 
  • #24
Astronuc said:
I don't understand the connection between the stimulus bill and the shooting of a chimpanzee by police. Congress wrote the stimulus bill and Obama signed it.

There was that incident where a 200 lb chimpanzee attacked a friend of the chimps owner, but I still don't see the connection with the stimulus bill. The police ended up shooting it.

Just one more reason not to read the NY Post.
[and Gokul and Bob]

How much of the stimulus bill did Obama actually write? My first thought at seeing this was the idea that the stimulus bill was written by a bunch of crazy chimps on a money grabbing feeding frenzy and it sent my mind immediately to the Democrats in Congress.

Now the bill obviously didn't get "shot" down, so while the cartoon got a mild chuckle out of me, the direct suggestion of the cartoon is, of course, irrelevant.

Either way, no, there is clearly no racism here, only overreaction from people looking for race baiting (Sharpton).
 
  • #25
russ_watters said:
bunch of crazy chimps on a money grabbing feeding frenzy and it sent my mind immediately to the Democrats in Congress.
I always think of the other guy

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/l/7/bush_chimp.jpg
 
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  • #26
Non sequitur attacks on Bush aside (I guess I should start randomly going after Clinton again too :rolleyes: ), here's what I meant by my post:
The biggest challenge President Barack Obama faces in trying to sell America on his nearly $900 billion stimulus package is that, as it stands, it's not his...

Over the course of the transition, when the bill was being drafted, top Obama aides held multiple meetings with committee staffers and their bosses, but in the end, the bill was written on the Hill. "They did a good job of really deferring to Congress," says one pleased senior Democratic aide involved in the bill's creation.
http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1877192,00.html

The cartoon seems pretty clear-cut to me. Now regarding the OP: no line was approached here, much less crossed. People (Sharpton) misinterpreted it due to their own latent racism.
 
  • #27
mgb_phys said:
Back office.mainframe programmers used to be known as monkeys because they did the 'room full monkeys at typewriters' programming.
So simple changes were known as a 'one banana problem' - because you only had to feed the monkeys one banana to do it.
It goes back much further than that:
In one of the forms in which probabilists now know this theorem, with its "dactylographic" [i.e., typewriting] monkeys (French: singes dactylographes; the French word singe covers both the monkeys and the apes), appeared in Émile Borel's 1913 article "Mécanique Statistique et Irréversibilité" (Statistical mechanics and irreversibility),[9] and in his book "Le Hasard" in 1914. His "monkeys" are not actual monkeys; rather, they are a metaphor for an imaginary way to produce a large, random sequence of letters. [emphasis added]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem#History

People do often focus on the gibberish they generate (as opposed to the occasional Shakespeare sonnet), but the metaphor is the same.
 
  • #28
russ_watters said:
[and Gokul and Bob]

How much of the stimulus bill did Obama actually write? My first thought at seeing this was the idea that the stimulus bill was written by a bunch of crazy chimps on a money grabbing feeding frenzy and it sent my mind immediately to the Democrats in Congress.
I would probably have thought the same way if there were a bunch of chimps in the cartoon rather than just one. If you were asked to associate one name with the stimulus bill, would it be (the actual bill sponsor) Obey or Obama? (now, that's a joke)

It could also be that I was already expecting a racist cartoon after reading the OP, and that induced me to see the racism immediately. But more than that, I think it was that I had already been seeing the Obama-monkey slurs during the campaign, that it was easy to see it again.

Here's an example, from Aryan Wear:

http://aryanwear.com/images/obama-monkey-shirt.jpg

Anyway, I don't particularly care whether or not there was an intended racist angle to the cartoon, and I doubt Obama gives a damn about it either. It's actually a bigger deal for me that I still don't find it at all funny. Do you?
 
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  • #29
Gokul43201 said:
I would probably have thought the same way if there were a bunch of chimps in the cartoon rather than just one. If you were asked to associate one name with the stimulus bill, would it be (the actual bill sponsor) Obey or Obama? (now, that's a joke)

It could also be that I was already expecting a racist cartoon after reading the OP, and that induced me to see the racism immediately. But more than that, I think it was that I had already been seeing the Obama-monkey slurs during the campaign, that it was easy to see it again.

Here's an example, from Aryan Wear:

http://aryanwear.com/images/obama-monkey-shirt.jpg

Anyway, I don't particularly care whether or not there was an intended racist angle to the cartoon, and I doubt Obama gives a damn about it either. It's actually a bigger deal for me that I still don't find it at all funny. Do you?


I found it a little bit clever but it wasn't really funny. But, I don't think I've seen one of these type of cartoons that I found very funny.
 
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  • #30
Gokul43201 said:
I would probably have thought the same way if there were a bunch of chimps in the cartoon rather than just one.
Yes, but the author was somewhat constrained by the current event he was referencing.
It could also be that I was already expecting a racist cartoon after reading the OP, and that induced me to see the racism immediately.
I was too, or rather, I was looking for it and didn't see it. I must admit I didn't look all that hard.
But more than that, I think it was that I had already been seeing the Obama-monkey slurs during the campaign, that it was easy to see it again.

Here's an example, from Aryan Wear:
I didn't see much, but then I didn't go looking for racists and crackpots during the campaign (I only saw what made the news). But this cartoon was in a major paper and one should not expect to see even implied (much less overt) racism in it. Beyond that, though, anyone looking at it cold and seeing 'Obama is a monkey' is really selling the author short. Most good political cartoons require you to think a little about the implications. A simpleton like Sharpton simply wouldn't get the joke, so to him the only possibility would be that it was intended as overt racism.
Anyway, I don't particularly care whether or not there was an intended racist angle to the cartoon, and I doubt Obama gives a damn about it either.
Agreed. Obama's smart enough and mellow enough (not sure if that's the right word, but you know what i mean) to not jump to racism in the interpretation.
It's actually a bigger deal for me that I still don't find it at all funny. Do you?
Well I didn't laugh out loud (I'd give it a snort or a chuckle), if that's what you're asking - but then, I don't often see that kind of "funny" in political cartoons. I thought it was clever, which is what I look for.
 
  • #31
drankin said:
I found it a little bit clever but it wasn't really funny. But, I don't think I've seen one of these type of cartoons that I found very funny.
Heh, echo.
 
  • #32
signerror said:
Yes, it uses a current event as a template for the joke.

Except of course that for one thing there is no easy relationship to be made between the shooting of a chimp gone bad and the authorship of a stimulus package, regardless of your opinion of it, when the more obvious connection that might be made is the racially offensive connection between a monkey and Obama - that has regrettably already been so recently in evidence during the campaign just ended. That rather makes the cartoon not a joke at all to some people.

If this cartoon had appeared in a KKK Newsletter I suppose no one would have bothered, because it's an issue of consider the source.

That the NY Post a more mainstream content source would have forwarded it, I think quite rightly raises serious questions about their judgment. And most especially in light of their rather churlish defense of their actions, as opposed to say recognizing that they have been the agent of spreading content that a significant number of people find objectionable. Not allowing the possibility that they are wrong and that they have offended more than just Al Sharpton is a rather haughty and arrogant response I'd say.
 
  • #33
drankin said:
It looks to me like it's insinuating that the stimulus bill was written by a monkey and the cops shot the author of it. The cartoonist related the recent chimp shooting to it. As far as racism, I didn't see it. I think you would have to really read into it to get that. Now cartoonist can't relate monkeys to politics? C'mon.
The cartoonist would have to be completey clueless not to know the implications. It's like that woman's group that printed the anti-Obama flyers with pictures of fried chicken and watermelon that claimed they had no idea of the racial stereotyping. PUHLEASE.
 
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  • #34
Them being American and knowing the possible reaction from people (which they did get it), I don't know why would they publish it anyway.

Maybe, looking for some controversy and popularity...
 
  • #35
LowlyPion said:
That may be well and good from your defensive perspective, but the fact that it would be found to be offensive by others - maybe a large number of others - should at least suggest that from the perspectives of these others that the cartoon is drawing from an unfortunate well of connotation and alternate entendre.

A cartoon that is prima facie 2 white cops shooting a black monkey with the monkey the inferred author of the stimulus package I'd say shows more than a little insensitivity and poor judgment.
A black monkey? From a black and white cartoon?
 

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