Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New York Post cartoon sparks controversy

New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas' caricature that shows a police officer shooting a chimpanzee while his partner mocks President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill has prompted the Rev. Al Sharpton to speak out against what he asserts is an overtly racist cartoon.

The cartoon, which appears in today's Post, appears to link Travis the chimp, who severely disfigured a Stamford, Connecticut, woman on Monday before police killed him, to Obama. The caption read "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," but Sharpton described the cartoon to the Associated Press as "troubling at best."

Delonas is certainly no stranger to controversy. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has issued numerous calls to action over his cartoons that mock LGBT people. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, actor George Takei and Thomas Beatie are among those Delonas has depicted, but his latest cartoon implies GLAAD's efforts have generated little (if any) tangible results.

Sharpton's comments to the Associated Press also beg the question as to whether expressions of outrage actually draw more attention to a cartoonist who arguably generates more publicity for himself and the publication that publishes his work. I struggled with this very question at GLAAD after the Post published two of Delonas' cartoons in Oct. 2006 that mocked McGreevey and disgraced Congressman Mark Foley [R-Fla.] and compared marriage for same-sex couples to bestiality. GLAAD was quick to issue two calls to action that urged its supporters to express their outrage, but nothing concrete came out of these efforts.

Delonas' latest cartoon is certainly disturbing and unfortunate. The fact remains, however, public expressions of outrage simply garners more publicity for a publication that arguably has little incentive to listen to its critics. A new and arguably more drastic game plan is in order to adequately address these problematic cartoons and the tabloid that continues to publish them.

No comments: