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Is he suggesting the President needs to be shot?
February 19, 2009 11:44 AM   Subscribe

An editorial cartoon in the New York Post gets reactions from around the world about its possible racial depictions.

Al Sharpton denounces it, and the Posts editor defends it. And bloggers all over the internet have a field day.

With people quickly taking sides as to whether the artist meant to draw a racial slur, it's worth noting that Delonis is no stranger to controversy. And Obama has been compared to monkeys before, at Republican events. And of course there's a long history of depicting negros as apes. With all that, can an editorial cartoonist really claim in good conscience to be unaware of any racial context?
posted by happyroach (301 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously deleted post on same topic. See comments for why that chimp story is not funny.
posted by ND¢ at 11:47 AM on February 19, 2009


I think the first link is misdirected. Here's the cartoon in question.
posted by farishta at 11:48 AM on February 19, 2009


I think you linked to the wrong cartoon.
posted by chunking express at 11:48 AM on February 19, 2009


I'm not sure why a depiction of a dude with no leg has racist implications. The linked cartoon, far from including monkeys, seems to be about a legless homeowner asking why he can't get any money.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2009


Always preview.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2009


This post is better than the last one on this subject, but it's still an embarrassing little story that ought to disappear. Too much hay has been made over this already.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fixed the first link, and yeah, this is loads better than yesterday's post.
posted by cortex at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2009


Also, for what it's worth, though the first post on the topic was rightfully deleted, I think that this one is more substantial. The link to some of Delonis' other cartoons confirms my suspicion that, racist or not, he's still an enormous asshole.
posted by farishta at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2009


Well I'll be a monkey's uncle.

And racist or not, tragic or not, I just think the cartoon sucks.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who is Dibble???
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2009




Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:55 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is he calling Obama Irish?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:55 AM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, it's actually racist to assume that every time someone mentions monkeys or apes, they are insulting dark-skinned people.
posted by Mister_A at 11:56 AM on February 19, 2009 [19 favorites]


There's no way a person working in this medium could possibly be unaware of the historical depiction of blacks as monkeys. No. Way.
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on February 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


If he's not suggesting that the President is a monkey who should be shot, what could he possibly be suggesting? Weird.
posted by xmutex at 11:58 AM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


You know, it's actually racist to assume that every time someone mentions monkeys or apes, they are insulting dark-skinned people.

True. Sometimes it is meant as flattery.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


It is possible that the cartoonist sincerely believes that enraged monkeys authored the stimulus bill, right?
posted by Bromius at 11:59 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, it's actually racist to assume that every time someone mentions monkeys or apes, they are insulting dark-skinned people.

But what when they draw a cartoon about a recent event involving a chimp being shot by police and then tack on an incongruous "someone else will have to write a stimulus package" caption?

There's no coincidence or Shocking Misinterpretations here. Dude purposefully drew this cartoon to provoke ire. There's no way around that.
posted by Spatch at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


That's what happens when you get all your news from monkey talk radio.
posted by box at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2009


If he's not suggesting that the President is a monkey who should be shot, what could he possibly be suggesting? Weird.

Seriously? My immediate thought was that it's a take on the old "roomful of monkeys banging on typewriters" canard.

(Though, on reflection, it seems that the roomful of monkeys might have written a better stimulus bill.)
posted by kjh at 12:03 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Even if I pretend the cartoon isn't racist, I still find it offensive.

That chimp story was fucking tragic and entirely unfunny.
posted by mesh gear fox at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


That's a really shitty cartoon on a number levels. And yes, there's just no way to interpret it in non-racist terms. I can't imagine how anyone at the New York Post could possibly have thought it acceptable.
posted by orange swan at 12:06 PM on February 19, 2009


Even the Post's defense is nonsensical and tasteless:
The Post has stood by the cartoon, saying that it was meant to mock the contents of the stimulus by comparing the legislation to a now-infamous chimpanzee who attacked a woman in Connecticut.
posted by boo_radley at 12:07 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yes, there's just no way to interpret it in non-racist terms.

How about, "This bill was authored by a bunch of monkeys?"

Or do you think that the whole "million monkeys writing Shakespeare" trope is a racist diatribe?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:08 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Help I was attacked by an enraged stimulus? Wha?
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:09 PM on February 19, 2009


I was going to write a whole big thing about how this cartoon doesn't make all that much sense any way it's sliced and so the leap to 'racist!' or 'not!' seems like kind of a blind one but I think I've decided that the best thing we can learn from this cartoon is that it sucks.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 12:09 PM on February 19, 2009 [13 favorites]


I can't imagine how anyone at the New York Post could possibly have thought it acceptable.

I take it you've never read the New York Post?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:10 PM on February 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Well put, six-or-six-thirty.
posted by Mister_A at 12:11 PM on February 19, 2009


Also: Apes != Monkeys
posted by Sys Rq at 12:11 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


How about, "This bill was authored by a bunch of monkeys?"

No, that doesn't work. The cartoon shows a single monkey/chimp/baboon having been gunned down, and the caption is, "They'll have to find someone else [note the singluar] to write the stimulus bill now." If they had showed a lot of monkeys lying dead, sure, your interpretation could be applied.
posted by orange swan at 12:11 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Though, on reflection, it seems that the roomful of monkeys might have written a better stimulus bill.)

With all due respect, could someone explain to me this sentiment? I understand that everyone has different political and economic ideologies, but where, exactly, are you coming from? If you are one of the "Keynesian economics sucks" folks, that's cool, but didn't the CATO-brand 'let's adjust interest rates' policy fail last year? Isn't it the general opinion among economists that a stimulus like this is the best course of action?

I know little about economics, but I'm confident that many of the stimulus bill haters know even less, and that their complaints are politically motivated. That includes Delonis, whose cartoons would probably have celebrated the exact same economic policy had a certain other monkey signed the bill.
posted by farishta at 12:12 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


And yes, there's just no way to interpret it in non-racist terms.

Are you kidding me? I mean seriously? No one can mention monkeys without it OBVIOUSLY being a racist slur? The first time I saw it I didn't think anything even remotely related to race. I did, however, think "wow, that's not a very funny cartoon".
posted by blue_beetle at 12:12 PM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


You know, it's actually racist to assume that every time someone mentions monkeys or apes, they are insulting dark-skinned people.

Me, the black dude, didn't think it was racist at first, just 'cause it was so unfunny and jarring, as in "What the hell is he trying to say" My brain literally couldn't parse it for a minute, it was like a MarkovFilter. Eventually it sunk in, but I'm still stuck on awful it is as a gag.

My white wife, who grew up around rednecks, got the implication immediately and thinks it's disgusting racist, saying there's a long history of making that connection about whites.

There's no way a person working in this medium could possibly be unaware of the historical depiction of blacks as monkeys. No. Way.

I tend to agree. Controversy sells papers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:12 PM on February 19, 2009


Wait, Obama wrote the stimulus bill? Isn't that what lobbyists are for?

I can see why monkeys would be upset about being compared to lobbyists.
posted by straight at 12:13 PM on February 19, 2009


It's amazing what right-wing loons get away with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about, "This bill was authored by a bunch of monkeys?"

There's only one monkey there. And "this bill was authored by a single monkey" would be kinda racist, yeah.
posted by DU at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2009


Meh, I'm perfectly willing to read the cartoon charitably, but even so, it's not really humorous or insightful.

Or, what six-or-six-thirty said.
posted by the other side at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2009


I really don't understand this cartoon. Why did the police officer shoot the monkey? Was the monkey commiting some crime? The cop obviously had backup- why did he use lethal force? I'm seriously lost. It's like the artist thought, "I'm going to turn something that happens everyday-- a policeman shooting a goddamn monkey to death-- into a statement on our sorry times."
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine how anyone at the New York Post could possibly have thought it acceptable.

Because the post has no standards.

And for those folks who I will politely call devil's advocates, you can argue all you want for all the reasons why this might not be racist, but the fact of the matter is that many, if not most, people who look at this cartoon find it racist. And that's what makes it racist.

When Krusty hosts his Komedy Klassic in front of the abbreviation at the Apollo, it's pretty obvious why he's getting booed. If the "artist" didn't get it, it's pretty much the same thing here. He deserves the criticism.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Seriously? My immediate thought was that it's a take on the old "roomful of monkeys banging on typewriters" canard.

Seconded. Especially since Obama didn't write the stimulus bill. I agree the cartoonist wasn't very wise in his choice of language, but that doesn't mean he was purposefully calling Obama a monkey.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:15 PM on February 19, 2009


Or, what six-or-six-thirty said, as others noted.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:15 PM on February 19, 2009


No one can mention monkeys without it OBVIOUSLY being a racist slur?

Three people now in this thread have made this ridiculous point. But nobody is suggesting it's racist per se to "mention monkeys". We're talking about portraying a monkey[/chimpanzee] as the author of the bill that is the key achievement on office so far of Barack Obama. Obvious enough for ya now?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:16 PM on February 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm perfectly willing to read the cartoon charitably

Charitably to whom? The guy with the invisible knapsack?
posted by DU at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]




Wow, that leg one makes no sense at all.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2009


On non-preview: The reason there's only one monkey (ape) rather than a roomful of them is because it's supposed to be topical humor, and that poor woman was attacked by one monkey (ape), not a roomful of them.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2009


Let's see...
"This bill is really degloving my face!"... No.
"This chimp is really the target of republican ire!"... Mmmaybe. Probably racist in another angle, though.
"This bill could not be stopped by its owner stabbing it with a steak knife!"... No.
"This woman was critically injured by $800Bn of legislative spending"... No.

ChurchHatesTucker: the "million monkeys" bit doesn't really work, I think. In the cartoon, there's only one monkey, and it's only him responsible for the bill. Plus he's not near a typewriter or related props (I would have accepted quill, or RenFaire hat, etc.).
posted by boo_radley at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2009


If you compiled a long list of the most racist political cartoons published in the last 12 months, this would rank about #62. I can't believe that this cartoon is getting this much attention when I can think of a dozen off the top of my head where it's clear the artist just wanted to draw a picture of Obama with the caption "I HATE THIS N****** PRESIDENT."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm late to the party, I guess.
posted by boo_radley at 12:19 PM on February 19, 2009


Major rule of comedy:

If you have to explain it, it's not funny. Especially if you're the NY Post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let's just forget the fact that our last President was compared with a chimp for the last 8 years
posted by gyc at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


No one can mention monkeys without it OBVIOUSLY being a racist slur?

Uh, my claim that this particular cartoon which contains a monkey or ape or whatever and a reference to the stimulus bill cannot be interpreted as anything but racist is NOT the same claim as "no one can mention monkeys without it obviously being a racist slur".
posted by orange swan at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2009


Wow. So when I hear that newspapers are dying off...I'm kinda hoping that there will be a higher quality of political cartoons and less of this kind of crap.

wow.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2009


It's not topical humor at all. It's two unrelated news stories jammed together nonsensically.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


That monkey looks nothing like Larry Summers.
posted by billysumday at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2009


I think the comic is an attempt to humorously make the point that the stimulus bill is crazy. So crazy, in fact, that it was written by that insane rampaging chimp that you heard about on the news the other night. Ha Ha! However, I think that about five seconds of thought would lead anyone (who wasn't tying logic in knots to prevent it) to conclude that claiming that the first major legislative achievement of the first African-American president was actually written by a monkey, and then drawing that monkey face down on the pavement after being shot dead by police, is at the very least in poor taste. The defense of "well I didn't mean it that way" only works if you didn't know damn well that, even if it isn't intended that way, it comes off racist as hell. "I didn't mean it that way" is the excuse of a child and our level of discourse should be higher than that.
posted by ND¢ at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


If you compiled a long list of the most racist political cartoons published in the last 12 months, this would rank about #62. I can't believe that this cartoon is getting this much attention when I can think of a dozen off the top of my head where it's clear the artist just wanted to draw a picture of Obama with the caption "I HATE THIS N****** PRESIDENT."

This is a fair point. I suspect what really happened was that Sean Delonas thought "heh heh there's a crazed chimp in Connecticut" --> "uh how can I make a topical joke about that" --> "hey I know, the stimulus bill is so bad it could have been written by a crazed chimp! heh" and is simply too lazy and generally crap human being to give a fuck about the potential racial overtones. This makes him less bad than the grand high wizard of the KKK, true. But it doesn't make the cartoon non-racist, or excuse the Post for publishing it.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:22 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The gray area claims would hold a lot more weight if this dude didn't already have such a substantial body of clearly prejudiced work out there.
posted by The Straightener at 12:23 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Defending this cartoon is like defending that guy who used the word "niggardly" years ago - sure, it might not be racist, but you'd have to be an idiot not to see the racist angle on it.
posted by GuyZero at 12:23 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


given the other examples of delonis's work provided above, it is clear that he is quite comfortable employing ugly stereotypes. given that he is a staff cartoonist at one of the biggest papers in the nation, he understands the impact his imagery has. given these two points, it is inconceivable that he could not have foreseen the implication of this cartoon and was quite comfortable publishing it anyway. gleeful, even, i would suspect. verdict: bigot? yes. a-hole? yes. shitty cartoonist? yes. shameless self-promoter? likely.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not topical humor at all.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2009


I, in my naivete, thought he was referring to Bush.
posted by Floydd at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2009


ChurchHatesTucker: the "million monkeys" bit doesn't really work, I think. In the cartoon, there's only one monkey, and it's only him responsible for the bill.

Yeah, but as has been mentioned above, the Chimp incident involved a singular monkey (ape, whatever.) So the cartoonist either erred on number of monkeys, or on the number of stimulus bill authors. I've seen actual racism, and I just don't see that choice being racist.

If you compiled a long list of the most racist political cartoons published in the last 12 months, this would rank about #62.

Or, what he said.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:26 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


If there's racial overtones, it went over my head. The cartoon just makes it sound like Congress is hiring Bakersfield Chimps to write the bills.
posted by crapmatic at 12:26 PM on February 19, 2009


And there's a ton better ways to do it.
posted by boo_radley at 12:27 PM on February 19, 2009


Let's just forget the fact that our last President was compared with a chimp for the last 8 years

There is no well-known simian-related slur against white people that I'm aware of.
posted by mkb at 12:27 PM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: Can we at least agree that, racism aside, it's not a very good cartoon?
posted by boo_radley at 12:29 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Defending this cartoon is like defending that guy who used the word "niggardly" years ago - sure, it might not be racist, but you'd have to be an idiot not to see the racist angle on it.

You're joking, right? Niggardly is a real word that has nothing to do with that other word. On the other hand, people who say the word "picnic" are secretly racist rubes who want to hang all black people.

I'll just as liberally goo-brained as most of you, but damn if some of you don't go out of your way to get your outrage trigger tripped.
posted by billysumday at 12:29 PM on February 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


White people smell like wet dogs. HAHAHA! Whiteys!
posted by Mister_A at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2009


with all due respect, guyzero, on the 'niggardly' issue: the guy and the word itself are both innocent. it has no etymological connection to 'nigger.' in my opinion, simply sounding similar is not enough to smear and perfectly good word.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2009


For some information: I have found that many black college students were outraged when the film King Kong was shown on campus. They felt that it had a back story about blacks (Kong), a brute, brought in chains to America, enslaved, to amuse whites but then the ape fell in love with a white woman. Now you may say this is plain silly but that is how the black students reacted.

The conservatives now note: Bush often depicted as a chimp (but he is white); that Obama does not write the bills going to the White House etc etc

What gets missed: forget the black/chimp; forget all things. What we then are left with : you don't likke what gets done in D.C.? shoot the guys (assassination) that produced the work.
posted by Postroad at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]




Let's just forget the fact that our last President was compared with a chimp for the last 8 years

Bush=chimp compares Bush's monkey like facial expressions and foolishness to a monkey.

Obama=chimp plays on an ugly racial slur.

Stop pretending they're remotely similar.

On preview, what mkb said.
posted by mesh gear fox at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


First, how many times have people referred to Bush as a chimp? Almost two and a half million times. There's even a website called Bushorchimp.com

So let's say they did compare Obama to a monkey. So? Why is that comparison automatically racist instead of an attack on his intelligence as it was with Bush? Do you actually believe that everyone thinks Obama is brilliant, so that couldn't possibly be an explanation? Do you believe that anyone who doesn't think he's brilliant is racist? This is a democracy. You aren't entitled to marginalize every dissenting opinion and shuttle it off to the lunatic fringe.

Furthermore, let's say hypothetically the intent of the cartoon was racist. Again, so what? Racism isn't a crime. Remember freedom of speech? If you don't like it, just don't read the New York Post. But you already ignore that paper, so really the outrage is about people having thoughts and expressing opinions you don't like even if it's in a venue or context in which you will never see it. People should be forced to suppress or hide their racism, etc., is that it?

It's better for the national dialogue if people who are racist simply express it, rather than craft plausible arguments that simply stand in for racism. That way, it becomes much easier to determine who to ignore.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Er, "I'm just as..." See? Policing the thought policing is making my grammar go all haywire and what not.
posted by billysumday at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2009


gyc makes a decent point - this same cartoon could've run in Bush's time and nobody would've thought twice about it, except for wondering why Bush was suddenly concerned about stimulating the economy. But Delonis seems to be a bigoted asshole, and I don't feel like he really deserves the benefit of the doubt here.

Tip for those who don't know: The New York Post is probably the single worst wide-issue newspaper in America. It is owned by Rupert Murdoch and is quite literally the print version of FoxNews, except that it does the type of stuff that would make FoxNews blush. For any Britons here, imagine the Daily Mail. Now imagine how bad, reactionary and hateful a paper would have to be to make the Daily Mail look pretty damn good by comparison. That's the New York Post.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


a) apologies, billysumday. i'm too slow again. b) and i can't fucking type, apparently.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:32 PM on February 19, 2009


I know that's a canine-related slur, mkb, but it's the only mammal-oriented anti-Caucasian slur I know.
posted by Mister_A at 12:32 PM on February 19, 2009


What gets missed: forget the black/chimp; forget all things. What we then are left with : you don't likke what gets done in D.C.? shoot the guys (assassination) that produced the work.

I honestly hadn't even thought of that angle on the cartoon. I assumed that the narrative of the single panel was that the chimp went crazy, tore a woman's face off, the cops shot it, and then, because the crazed chimp happened to be responsible for writing that Super Crazy Stimulus Bill!, the cops commented on such.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:33 PM on February 19, 2009


ChurchHatesTucker: Can we at least agree that, racism aside, it's not a very good cartoon?

Meh. It's an average political cartoon. A bit heavy-handed and not overly clever.

You just have to be working overtime to see it as racist.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:33 PM on February 19, 2009


Let's just forget the fact that our last President was compared with a chimp for the last 8 years

We should forget that a UK cartoonist's caricatures of Bush were white and focused on his big ears. Especially as said caricature is entirely irrelevant to this specific and ridiculously obvious racist caricature of Obama, in the context of historically racist comparisons of black people with apes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:33 PM on February 19, 2009


I know perfectly well that "niggardly" has nothing to do with "nigger" but I also know that a lot of people have never seen, used or studied the etymology of the word "niggardly" and that I'm a lot better off just using "cheap" or "parsimonious" instead. My point is that there's sufficient room to interpret racism that it should be avoided. There's a certain small zone of political correctness that's simply good sense.
posted by GuyZero at 12:34 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Christ I hate to have to defend Sean Delonas, well known tool and king of bad taste, but this was just Sharpton's way of getting back on TV (it's been a fallow time for him lately).
The rampaging chimp was page one in all the NYC tabs and so a clear shorthand for dangerous loony to the paper's readers.
If Obama had written the bill, you knee jerkers might have a point but I saw this cartoon as saying Washington pols = gibbering monkeys.
All that said, the straightener has a point and someone should have caught it before publication.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:34 PM on February 19, 2009


It seemed unavoidable that it would be interpreted as “President Obama is a chimp”, and a particularly angry, violent one at that. I personally interpreted it as “Obama hires angry chimps to write economics plans”, since I first saw it on the Internet and not in its original location in the New York Post which was opposite a page with an article about ‘Obama’s Plan’ complete with a rather large picture of the Commander in ChimpChief. Oops.

Some people I semi-respect have noted that there were many cartoonists and satirists who had depicted the previous President as a monkey or chimp (Un-curious George, those were the days), but considering the long-held and still-remembered racist attitude that Black People were less than human and more like the lesser Primates, it’s not a depiction to be taken lightly. There are other ways to caricature the current POTUS; I’m disappointed the editorial cartoonists haven’t picked up on his “mutt” comment more to show him as a mongrel dog (I could imagine him as Tramp in “Lady & the Tramp” in that spaghetti-eating scene, failing to win over a Republican ‘Lady’, then calling her a Bitch… COMEDY GOLD!).

What disturbs me most about Sean Delonas’ cartoon is its glib, thoughtless comparison of the Massive Stimulus Bill that hands out Massive amounts of money in various forms to a Massive number of people (of various levels of productivity and merit) to the violent attack of the chimp in which he basically tore his owner’s face off! I mean, who’s face is being torn off here? And don’t say “future generations”, because any negative effect, if the Stimulus fails to do enough of what it should, will be totally unlike a sudden violent attack. If Mr. Delonas really thinks this Massive Giveaway is like a chimp mauling your face, I definitely do NOT want to be around his house when Christmas Presents are opened.

Anyway, this got me thinking (which is always dangerous) that, while the Stimulus Bill was absolutely not like a Mad Chimp, some of the Republican reactions to it were! So I got out my PhotoSlop software, moved some letters around in Sean’s sloppy word balloon, and made up a version of the cartoon that might be a little more appropriate…

…except for one thing, Michael Steele, the current Chairman of the Republican Party is technically Blacker than Obama. Except when I thought of the idea, I wasn’t thinking of him, I was thinking of the current Unofficial Head of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, who has frequently played the part of both the Mad Chimp and the 800-Pound Gorilla (not a fat joke). But does it matter? Is the cartoon doomed to be hopelessly insensitive and racially insulting no matter how it’s framed? Well, I did come up with one more idea…

from my own blog
posted by wendell at 12:34 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


the difference between comparing bush to a chimp and obama to a chimp? crazy shit like this.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:35 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think what GuyZero is getting at with the "niggardly" comparison is that while the intention may not be racist, and the content may not be racist, you'd have to be a fucking idiot not to know that it might be taken that way.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:35 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]




And yes, there's just no way to interpret it in non-racist terms

This utterly, utterly idiotic sentiment is a perfect example of the PC-above-all-else attitude that will eventually bite Western society in the ass in a major way, especially after even more racist hypocrites like Al Sharpton learn to abuse it.

*adds chimps to thoughtcrime.xls after fat people, honor killings, and declawing*
posted by Krrrlson at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, I thought the monkey was Christ, and the policemen were Jews. I was way off!
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:38 PM on February 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


Racist? Probably. Stupid? Definitely.
posted by diogenes at 12:38 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know perfectly well that "niggardly" has nothing to do with "nigger" but I also know that a lot of people have never seen, used or studied the etymology of the word "niggardly" and that I'm a lot better off just using "cheap" or "parsimonious" instead. My point is that there's sufficient room to interpret racism that it should be avoided. There's a certain small zone of political correctness that's simply good sense.

Actually, what you said is that the person who used the word "niggardly" is probably racist. What other words do people use to show their secret racism? During Halloween, can I talk about spooks (see: Stain, Human)? What if I'm gardening? Can I ask someone to hand me a spade?

You should write a pamphlet, GuyZero, and help me keep this straight.
posted by billysumday at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


This thread reminds me of that scene in Clerks 2 where Randall swears up and down that he had no idea "porch monkey" was a racial slur.

You- and I'm speaking to every white person in this thread- know damn well that racists compare black people to apes, that racists claim black people are "under-evolved", and so on. You know goddamn well about this. This whole "Oh, I'm so not racist that I was unaware of one of the most popular and widespread racist slurs against black people" act is dishonest and fucking unbecoming of you, and nobody is impressed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2009 [23 favorites]


The big shock story with the easy visual lately was the crazy dangerous chimp shot dead. The big political story, the thing on everyone's mind, was the stimulus package, and right-wingers would be against it because it was written by Democrats, who of course are all idiots from their viewpoint. So... I think the right-wing cartoonist just tried to jam the two together for the big easy win, and he failed because you can't do a lot with "Democrats sure are crazy dangerous idiots, as you can see by that shitty stimulus package they slapped together, which must have been written by a chimp."

Something like that. It just seems more inept and dumb than evil.
posted by pracowity at 12:41 PM on February 19, 2009


gyc makes a decent point - this same cartoon could've run in Bush's time and nobody would've thought twice about it, except for wondering why Bush was suddenly concerned about stimulating the economy.

It's actually a pretty idiotic point. If Bush had been the subject matter, drawn shot, bleeding and killed by two armed men over some policy the cartoonist didn't like, said cartoonist would have been labeled a terrorist threat to national security and would have been disappeared.

Simply put, there's a double-standard for right-wing loons in the media when people like Ann Coulter, Michael Reagan and Sean Delonas call for assassinations, so comparisons to caricatures of Bush just don't apply.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:41 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


This thread reminds me of that scene in Clerks 2 where Randall swears up and down that he had no idea "porch monkey" was a racial slur.

You- and I'm speaking to every white person in this thread- know damn well that racists compare black people to apes, that racists claim black people are "under-evolved", and so on. You know goddamn well about this. This whole "Oh, I'm so not racist that I was unaware of one of the most popular and widespread racist slurs against black people" act is dishonest and fucking unbecoming of you, and nobody is impressed.


says the white dude from Indiana
posted by jock@law at 12:42 PM on February 19, 2009


It's been a long time since I've seen an editorial cartoon that wasn't mostly barren and nebulously offensive.

Maybe someone could recommend me some better papers?
posted by lucidium at 12:43 PM on February 19, 2009


Furthermore, let's say hypothetically the intent of the cartoon was racist. Again, so what? Racism isn't a crime. Remember freedom of speech? If you don't like it, just don't read the New York Post. But you already ignore that paper, so really the outrage is about people having thoughts and expressing opinions you don't like even if it's in a venue or context in which you will never see it. People should be forced to suppress or hide their racism, etc., is that it?

Er, where did anyone call expressing racism a crime? Where did we talk about forcing anyone to suppress their racism? Why are you taking the attitude that if we don't like the cartoon "just don't read the NY Post" — as opposed, you seem to be implying, to expressing our distaste for it in a public forum? Freedom of speech works both ways, you know. The cartoonist gets to draw the cartoon, the editors of a paper get to publish it, and we in turn get to criticize both for doing so. And you in your turn get to criticize us for criticizing the cartoonist and the NY Post editors, but I suggest that you develop a real point before you do so.
posted by orange swan at 12:44 PM on February 19, 2009


You don't tug on Superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
you don't pull on the mask of the Lone Ranger
and you shouldn't say words like niggardly or niggling around
Black people cause it just aint cool. Awight!
posted by doctorschlock at 12:45 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This utterly, utterly idiotic sentiment is a perfect example of the PC-above-all-else attitude that will eventually bite Western society in the ass in a major way, especially after even more racist hypocrites like Al Sharpton learn to abuse it. *adds chimps to thoughtcrime.xls after fat people, honor killings, and declawing*

Yeah! You mark Krrrlson's words. All you "OMG portraying a black person as a chimp is racist" liberal do-gooders are going to be laughing on the other side of your face when you CAN'T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ANYMORE BECAUSE THE MUSLIMS HAVE BANNED IT VIA THE U.N. OR SOMETHING.

USA! USA!
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:45 PM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


I cannot favorite navelgazer's comment enough.

If it helps to understand the Post a little bit better, here's an anecdote:

I once dated a girl who was some kind of shit-level sub-editor or some shit for the Post. It's not a hard position to get, but most people don't have the stomach for it. She hated it. But she introduced me to one of the friends she had made there. When I said to her "Man, The Post. Must be hard working there..." she got furious with me. She went on for a half hour, yelling at me about how she calls Bill O'Reilly her "boyfriend," and how what do I read... The Daily News?! (hint: no, i do not read The Daily News.) And how DARE I criticize Rupert Murdoch! He owns every newspaper! I bet you're one of those TIMES readers, aren't you?! People like you are ruining this country!

etc...
posted by shmegegge at 12:46 PM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]




Whenever these things come around I always get a kick out of thinking about the guy in the newsroom at [NewsOrganization] who yells out "Somebody get Al Sharpton on the phone!"
posted by jckll at 12:47 PM on February 19, 2009


I don't the cartoonist is racist, but it's easy to see why people were upset with it. And why was the chimp shot in the street rather then in some eccentric lady's house?

Let's just forget the fact that our last President was compared with a chimp for the last 8 years

Hahah, I know it's hilarious.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 PM on February 19, 2009


shakespeherian: did you happen to peruse the sampling of his other cartoons?

although i do think the cartoon was intentionally provocative, i don't think the artists' motivations themselves are racist, per se, so much as political. the right wing loves to play racial politics. the game is to put something potentially incendiary like this out there (don't forget: this is that piss-ant antichrist rupert murdoch's piece of shit newspaper, after all) in hopes of goading the obama administration or its supporters into overreacting somehow in their response, to create a popular backlash.

think how much political traction a sociopath like murdoch stands to gain if he can sell the storyline that the obama administration or its supporters are pressuring him to censor the editorial content of his papers. it's a demagogue like murdoch's dream come true! the lunatic right live to have their persecution complexes fed by narratives like that.

murdoch's trying to get under obama's skin, make him overplay his hand, that's what i think, to feed the right wing blather-sphere, to give the right more justifications for their whisper campaigns denouncing obama as another hugo chavez.

quite frankly, given how blatantly murdoch uses his various media holdings to manipulate short term stock prices to his personal financial benefit, the FCC should probably have intervened long ago and refused to renew the licenses of any of his broadcast affiliates. but then, the FCC has lost so much of its former regulatory authority in recent decades, such a drastic step (which would once easily have been understood as fully within the FCC's prerogative) would seem draconian and partisan in the modern regulatory climate.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:48 PM on February 19, 2009


Bush was compared to a monkey because he looks like a monkey. Black people were compared to monkeys because it was useful for racists to see them as subhuman and apelike. People who cannot see the difference between those cartoons and cartoons that depict black people as apes probably should read a few introductory texts on the history of racism before wading into a conversation that they are ill-equipped to participate in.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:48 PM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


The Post has stood by the cartoon, saying that it was meant to mock the contents of the stimulus by comparing the legislation to a now-infamous chimpanzee who attacked a woman in Connecticut.
The stimulus bill consists of Government spending meant to create jobs, improve infrastructure and give a boost to the economy. Even if you don't think it's a good idea or well executed, you'd agree that that is what it is, right?

The chimp that attacked that woman was raised in a domesticated manner—it was treated as part of her family; an other made human—yet, obviously it was still a wild animal and, tragically, behaved like a wild animal. [Aside: I find this whole story very upsetting and I don't think it's really fodder for teh funny. It could have been easily avoided. Chimps are not pets, tigers are not pets, etc.]

So, with the most neutral interpretation I can muster, it seems the artist is implying that whoever authored the stimulus bill only appears to be domesticated, with it and like other real politicians they are only mimicking, but is in reality wild and irrational, the stimulus bill being an example of such behavior—the action that brought the underlying "truth" to light.

So the actual chimp was put to death for being wild and harming the people it was made to live with and mimic. The cop, right after the shooting happens, makes the observation: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," tying all of these thoughts together.

The stimulus is Obama's initiative even if he isn't the author of the bill. When it is criticized, he is criticized and rightfully so, since he is the person in charge—the commander-in-chief.

The idea that naturally follows is that, perhaps, this dangerous figure should be snuffed out like the chimp was. Whether they mean literally or figuratively is murky, because even drawing out this interpretation is difficult. The cartoon provokes more emotional response than anything; it's hard to know what the hell it is even about, but it definitely feels wrong.

With all that said, there is no way the artist and paper would be ignorant to the history of monkey images representing black people in racist works. Then, to top it off, the cartoon shows two white cops—representing authority—doing what "needs to be done" by taking the wild menace out.

The backpedaling only makes it worse. When the artist says if anything they meant Pelosi, that is his cop-out on the racist imagery, but is he then implying that Pelosi needs to be snuffed out? That she is a wild animal? And really, fuck that. That is dishonest. They knew it would be read as Obama, not Pelosi. They aren't stupid. What they are, is ignorant pieces of shit putting out hateful cartoons then acting all coy and nonchalant about it.
posted by defenestration at 12:49 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


says the white dude from Indiana

It's like you've seen retorts on television but you don't really understand what they are. Yes, I'm white, and I'm from Indiana. I live, and have usually lived, around some really racist people, and as a white man, they tend to assume that I'm on their side, so I get to hear their bullshit. I am familiar with racist tropes, stereotypes, and slurs.

I mean, surely, you meant to somehow discredit my comment by pointing out my race and state of origin, but I can't for the life of me understand how you thought it would work.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:49 PM on February 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


My point is that there's sufficient room to interpret racism that it should be avoided. There's a certain small zone of political correctness that's simply good sense.

Other words that should be avoided:

Jubilant
Dichotomy
Spiciness
Whopper
Honky-tonk
Broadsword
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


says the white dude from Indiana
posted by jock@law at 12:42 PM on February 19


Yes, and if the white guy from Indiana recognizes it for what it is, what's your excuse?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sup, dawg. We heard you like racism, so we installed a Metafilter to alert you every time Racialicious gets updated.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2009


This utterly, utterly idiotic sentiment is a perfect example of the PC-above-all-else attitude that will eventually bite Western society in the ass in a major way, especially after even more racist hypocrites like Al Sharpton learn to abuse it.

Hear hear! I'm so glad you've made such a sharp and well thought out contribution to the thread, Krrrlson!
posted by shmegegge at 12:51 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, surely, you meant to somehow discredit my comment by pointing out my race and state of origin, but I can't for the life of me understand how you thought it would work.

Says the white dude from Indiana.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:51 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]




OTOH, if Obama had personally authored the bill, rather than a couple congressional committees, your interpretation could be applied.

OTOH, my interpretation applies because, in the mind of the average American, Obama is primarily responsible for and associated with the economic stimulus bill.
posted by orange swan at 12:52 PM on February 19, 2009


So, this reminds me of a story. When my daughter was in middle school, she came home one Monday looking very tense. I asked her what the matter was but she just shut down and wouldn't talk -- something at school had clearly upset her. Finally, as we were driving to the market (parents of young children, take note, car rides are fabulous for getting to teen truths) she burst into tears. Apparently, a friend of hers had gone to a family reunion over the weekend and wore the commemorative t-shirt to school. The family's name was Lynch, and the t-shirt slogan they chose was "The Lynch Mob". My kid (in full To-Kill-A-Mockingbird thrall) was absolutely appalled that they chose to ignore the historical implications of that phrase. How could she be friends with "people like that"? I talked her down, exonerated her young friend, but what a complex lesson to learn! To this day, I'm not sure if the Lynch family was ignorant or grossly insensitive. I am, however, quite sure the 'cartoonist' was not ignorant of the historical implications therein.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:53 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is just bad cartooning. It's borrowed interest - not genuine interest- using the big shock story of the week to score points about "democrats are stupid and dangerous, hahaha!"

I perceived it to be directed at the house and senate leadership, because Nancy Pelosi looks like a monkey.
posted by Mister_A at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2009


Has this site been mentioned here before for political cartoons?
posted by ODiV at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This utterly, utterly idiotic sentiment is a perfect example of the PC-above-all-else attitude that will eventually bite Western society in the ass in a major way, especially after even more racist hypocrites like Al Sharpton learn to abuse it.

Please expand upon this, er, thought, Krrrlson. I love infotainment, even when it's minus any actual info.
posted by orange swan at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2009


Bush was compared to a monkey because he looks like a monkey. Black people were compared to monkeys because it was useful for racists to see them as subhuman and apelike.

Even though I completely agree with this statement, I still want to make a Patrick Ewing joke.

/not Ewingist
posted by billysumday at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2009


Whenever these things come around I always get a kick out of thinking about the guy in the newsroom at [NewsOrganization] who yells out "Somebody get Al Sharpton on the phone!"

Actually he puts out a statement hoping to get invited on TV.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:57 PM on February 19, 2009


Charitably to whom? The guy with the invisible knapsack?
posted by DU at 12:17 PM on February 19


Sure, who did you think "charitably" referred to, DU?
posted by the other side at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2009


I from Indiana, I white. Why no?
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:59 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


in general if something is seen as racist (or whatever -ist) by enough members of the offended population it is so. There may be a difference between what something was intended as, and what it turns out to be. I can not speak to what the cartoonist was thinking or the what the paper was thinking, but just because they may not have intended it as racist does not mean it is not racist.

But consider:
There is a general feeling that Obama had a major hand in crafting the RnR package ("Stimulus", to those who are lazy enough to fall into the packaging of it), so it is not unreasonable to think that what the cops in the strip are referring to is Obama. Add that to the long obscene tradition of referring to AAs as monkeys then... well the door is at least open to this as a reasonable interpretation.

Recall how many in the Islamic world reacted to the Mohammad cartoon a few years back? No one has been killed over this, thank goodness, and no one has rioted, thank goodness, yet many are just as upset... over a possibly offensive cartoon.

I actually would rather they publish the cartoon and receive a fire storm of criticism about it. Yes, I think it is offensive and yes the paper should be called out for it, but ultimately it is their decision, and really they should either stand by it, or apologize. I don't want (most) offensive images hidden away just because they are offensive. What should happen is what is happening. If it was unintentional then it will make people a bit more careful about it form now on, if it was intentional, well I guess it marks out the NYP as a certain kind of publication.

Personally I think the NYP is a bit chickenshit about it, by both not acknowledging how the image comes across and offering a lame excuse for it.

I don't defend it, but I can't get too worked up about it, ultimately we can choose how we react, and frankly being where I am I have zero impact on the NYP, and will simply refuse to have anything to do with it if occasion arises in the future.
posted by edgeways at 12:59 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whenever these things come around I always get a kick out of thinking about the guy in the newsroom at [NewsOrganization] who yells out "Somebody get Al Sharpton on the phone!"

Actually he puts out a statement hoping to get invited on TV.


I think it has more to do with the fact that he has his own radio show in NYC, so he'll push something in the morning, then they'll have him on the cable news shows at night, saying, "Al, earlier today on your show you were saying that..."

By the by, can I just say that no matter what ridiculous (or, for that matter, profound) nonsense comes out of Sharpton's mouth, that guy is a national treasure? Al can be a great advocate for liberal causes, and he should be on tv more, not less.
posted by billysumday at 1:00 PM on February 19, 2009


I don't think anyone claimed that they didn't know that 'monkey' is a racial slur. The claim was that, because the word 'monkey' is not used in the cartoon (and is inappropriate in the cartoon, since the animal depicted is an ape), and because there are no minorities involved in the cartoon (Obama didn't write the stimulus bill), that to see RACIST as the only possible interpretation for the cartoon is disingenuous, as there are a couple of associative leaps necessary. I'm not saying that those associative leaps are impossible, but it isn't correct to say that the cartoon says 'Obama is a monkey.'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:01 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you seriously can't see the racism angle here, you should probably get out more. Calling black people monkeys goes back to the original justifications for slavery. It is one of the oldest tricks in the racist book and to be so blissfully unaware of it is kinda strange. I assure you that the cartoonist in question did not share your ignorance of the symbolism.

None of this is to say that's what he intended with the cartoon. Like all hack racist cartoonists, he's managed to maintain plausible deniability here and so we are left to debate the contents of his soul in the futile way that always happens with shit like this. I will direct those who don't see why people who are mad about this to The Right Hon. Jay Smooth for a better rundown on this thing.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:01 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


the difference between comparing bush to a chimp and obama to a chimp? crazy shit like this.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:35 PM on February 19 [+] [!]


Holy crap, that site is NSFW, and way offensive in every way possible. Yeesh.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:02 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kidding aside. I've thought about this thing RACISM. We all know it and we all know it exits.
Being Black, racism is a strong word. My point is that the word has changed now. It used to mean HATE. Now it just means something else. A form of ignorance. Now's the time for education.
posted by doctorschlock at 1:02 PM on February 19, 2009


The claims of racism (whether it was intended or not) emerge because the cartoon doesn't make any sense. The natural reaction to this cartoon is WTF? because one can't figure out what it means, and then trying to decipher it drives people crazy to the point that they start trying to fill in what it is supposed to mean by negotiating even the most peripheral inferences. The cartoonist should be fired for general incoherence.
posted by troybob at 1:02 PM on February 19, 2009


Ah! I see the gap and I'm prepared to bridge it! The reason why I think the chimp in the cartoon is a dig at Obama is because the stimulus bill has been inextricably tied to his name since the moment he took office and who the hell else would they be talking about?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:03 PM on February 19, 2009


OTOH, my interpretation applies because, in the mind of the average American, Obama is primarily responsible for and associated with the economic stimulus bill.

No need to invoke facts, when you can conjure your interpretation of the 'average American.' (Who doesn't seem to be too worked up about this, BTW.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2009


....And please..please... The Rev. Al Sharpton does not speak for me... OK!
posted by doctorschlock at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


the stimulus bill has been inextricably tied to his name since the moment he took office and who the hell else would they be talking about?

Larry Summers?
posted by billysumday at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2009


You've all been successfully provoked 'ya bunch of gullible monkeys.
posted by Muirwylde at 1:05 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would love for one of these crap nontroversies to get the treatment it deserves on NPR by whomever they invite on, which in my opinion would be to intentionally miss the point:

Host: What's your reaction to this cartoon?
Editorial Cartoon Expert: Well, I can clearly see why this has caused such an uproar. For starters, the perspective is all wrong. I know this is radio, but if your listeners could imagine for a moment an Escher. Where is the vanishing point, exactly? It's all over the place in this piece.... Secondly...
posted by odinsdream at 1:05 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bush was compared to a monkey because he looks like a monkey. Black people were compared to monkeys because it was useful for racists to see them as subhuman and apelike.

Yes, Bush looks like a monkey, but so does everyone else. Black people, white people, orange, yellow, brown, green (you've seen him on your peas), every color. I look like a monkey, don't you? Hell yeah you do. Some do more than others, especially people who sit at a computer all day and those what's your bench lifters whose shoulders protrude forward and backs hunch over so far that they look like they're trying to revert back to quadrupedalism. Silly monkeys.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Hey, hey, we're the monkeys, and people say we monkey around. But we're too busy singing to put anybody down.
posted by trueluk at 1:05 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


plausible deniability? i think we're using a definition of 'plausible' with which i'm unfamiliar. farkian deniability, perhaps.
posted by stubby phillips at 1:10 PM on February 19, 2009


I think what GuyZero is getting at with the "niggardly" comparison is that while the intention may not be racist, and the content may not be racist, you'd have to be a fucking idiot not to know that it might be taken that way.

I used to tell everyone it was just a Charlie Chaplin moustache.
posted by gman at 1:11 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


People should be forced to suppress or hide their racism, etc., is that it?

No, but they should be shamed for it.
posted by desjardins at 1:11 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I get home, I'm going to make a bunch of homemade crackers. Shaped like wasps. I'll grab a handful of them and sign on to mefi, so I can argue about racism with a bunch of cracker wasps.
posted by boo_radley at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, no criticism for the perspective of the piece? Where is the vanishing point? Or the horizon? Are these midget cops? Is it a short joke? Is this some amazing foreshortening technique I am unfamiliar with?

Storytelling aside, the dimensions are near impossible.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a stupid cartoon all the way around and it's easy* to see how it can be considered offensive. I find it hard to believe the cartoonist didn't realize it would be seen that way.

*Easy as shooting monkeys in a barrel. (but not as fun)
posted by various at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2009


Holy crap. I mean, wow, I'm not even mad. That's so racist it's amazing. If it doesn't jump right out at you, you're either in denial or you were homeschooled.

If I worked at the NY Post I'd probably quit in shame over this, and I'd not put my job at the Post on my resume. This is a new low even for a Rupert Murdoch company.
posted by mullingitover at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2009


You know, there’s actually a difference between a message having a racist intent and a message being offensive. The guy who said “let’s not be niggardly” didn’t have a racist intent, but people who heard what he said clearly got offended.

But, people often act like they are the same thing, and if they can somehow “lawyer out” of a person being racist then that the message shouldn’t be offensive, or that if they are offensive the person is just being hypersensitive.

I f you really used that standard, where anything with a plausible non-racist interpretation wasn’t racist, then anyone who wanted to say something offensive would only have to figure out a "creative" way to say it that lead to a plausible alternate explanation and then they get the double bonus of then calling out the people they meant to insult as being hypersensitive.

Anyway, the point is you have to make a distinction between intrinsic racism and extrinsic offensiveness.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]




oh, and yes, i think the artist intentionally left himself plausible deniability with the "i just mean congress are a bunch of raging monkeys." but given the frequent press chatter about the heightened risk of an assassination attempt on obama on account of his race, coupled with the obvious historical associations, whether the racist interpretation is the only one or not, murdoch and his spineless little lackeys just aren't stupid enough not to know the potential for controversy was there, whether any racist insinuation was part of the intended message or not.

so if they knew there would be a backlash among individuals who might be more sensitive to these issues, why'd they publish it? the same reason psychos like to fuck with psychologically healthy people: to create highly emotionally charged chaotic conditions they can exploit through skillful, emotionally detached social manipulation.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:14 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


And why was the chimp shot in the street rather then in some eccentric lady's house?

Possibly because the actual chimp in question was shot in the street after pulling open the door of the policeman's cruiser, and not in an eccentric ladies house. But the facts don't stoke the faux racist outrage as much, you know.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 1:14 PM on February 19, 2009


I already know I don't really want to say this, but isn't the whole 'he should have known better' thing kind of exactly like that whole 'blaming the victim' thing?

Just a half-formed thought.

As it is, for full disclosure, I want to apologize to all of you for being an idiot, because in absolute honesty I would not have grasped this as potentially racist unless someone else had pointed it out to me. If I were on the Post review board this would have not occurred to me as being so overtly offensive (this may in part be because I might not have made the Obama connection in the first place), but some other racist stereotypes I would have immediately said no to like, I don't know, something about watermelons and fried chicken. I have not apparently, despite being white, been exposed to some of these racist themes enough to really drive them home. Sorry to Pope Guilty and the rest of you.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 1:16 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


How long until another cartoonist pulls the old "draw the controversy" with a similar-looking panel and the cops saying, "Looks like we'll have to find another cartoonist to tackle sensitive issues of race in America."

Let the countdown begin...
posted by billysumday at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2009


Yes, Bush looks like a monkey, but so does everyone else.

No, Bush really, really looks like a monkey.
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sports broadcasters who have gotten into trouble for comparing African Americans to monkeys in the last 30 years:

Howard Cosell

Billy Packer

Tony Vietch

So, yeah, anyone who watches sports sort of knows that making the black = simian comparison is a wicked bad decision.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2009


Furthermore, let's say hypothetically the intent of the cartoon was racist. Again, so what? Racism isn't a crime. Remember freedom of speech? If you don't like it, just don't read the New York Post. But you already ignore that paper, so really the outrage is about people having thoughts and expressing opinions you don't like even if it's in a venue or context in which you will never see it. People should be forced to suppress or hide their racism, etc., is that it?

Oh yeah, with respect to this, it's interesting how anti-PC people always wave the banner of free speech, but it seems like they actually hate it. Carlos Mencia types always whine about being oppressed when they get called on their bullshit, but freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from criticism.

If you're going to be a troll, own it. It's amazing how whiny these supposedly fearless, tell-it-like-it-is types actually are.
posted by delmoi at 1:18 PM on February 19, 2009 [13 favorites]


flatluigi, that's one hell of a host:
http://to.all.the.people.in.the.front.and.the.back.when.i.say.hell.you.say.fuckyeah.hell.fuckyeah.photos.cx/LesteM20090217A_low-175.jpg
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what I never realized until now? Jane Goodall is a racist bitch.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:22 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Possibly because the actual chimp in question was shot in the street after pulling open the door of the policeman's cruiser, and not in an eccentric ladies house. But the facts don't stoke the faux racist outrage as much, you know.

What outrage? When did I ever say I was outraged by this cartoon? The only thing I had said in the thread was I thought the one-legged cartoon made no sense, and that it was funny how frustrated conservatives were that bush got called a chimp all the time and now Obama can't be.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on February 19, 2009


what's with all the gesticulating cht?
posted by stubby phillips at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2009



"I didn't mean it that way" is the excuse of a child and our level of discourse should be higher than that.

Not familiar with Bill O'rly I take it.
posted by notreally at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2009


I've spent a fair amount of time in another recent thread defending newspaper journalism, and having just looked at the "controversy" link and flatluigi's collection I wonder if that was such a good use of effort. British newspapers regularly do reprehensible things but I cannot imagine any of them publishing something as sickening as this. Worthy of Julius Streicher.
posted by WPW at 1:26 PM on February 19, 2009


I so totally didn't expect http://to.all.the.people.in.the.front.and.the.back.when.i.say.hell.you.say.fuckyeah.hell.fuckyeah.photos.cx/LesteM20090217A_low-175.jpg to bring up an actual picture. I was expecting a 404 page. Instead I get a picture of my living room with a bucket of Tazo Passion Herbal Infusion tea sitting in the middle of it. How cool is that!
posted by cjorgensen at 1:26 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what I never realized until now? Jane Goodall is a racist bitch.

This explains your comments in this thread so far, more than you'll probably like, when you have the chance to look back and think about it some.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: Instead I get a picture of my living room with a bucket of Tazo Passion Herbal Infusion tea sitting in the middle of it. How cool is that!

*cough*
posted by flatluigi at 1:30 PM on February 19, 2009


Whether or not racist intention was there originally- Delonis et al had to have known it would throw a bone to ignorant and racist right wing buffoons who find that sort of thing amusing and affirming. And they'll take zero responsibility: "we can't help it if racists get a kick out of this."
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:31 PM on February 19, 2009


I would appreciate it if y'all would mark your NSFW links as such. TIA.
posted by desjardins at 1:31 PM on February 19, 2009


The gray area claims would hold a lot more weight if this dude didn't already have such a substantial body of clearly prejudiced work out there.

Yeah, as context for those that don't regularly read the NY Post, Delonas' output is consistently tasteless, unfunny, and riddled with obnoxious stereotypes.
posted by lalex at 1:31 PM on February 19, 2009


That's so racist it's amazing. If it doesn't jump right out at you, you're either in denial or you were homeschooled.

I think it jumps out, but then you set it aside because you think someone wouldn't be so blatant about it; but then you come back to it when you've exhausted the other possibilities---after you've tried to figure out what that patch on the arm is; after you've tried to read that sign that says maybe something about a dog; after you try to figure out if the monkey's arm configuration is significant, particularly as it reminds one of this; after you try to figure out if it was maybe the cop with the gun (or who he stands for) who wrote the original stimulus bill; after you can't find those little Heckle and Jekyll guys in the lower right-hand corner who do that old-men-on-the-muppets thing.

But then I tend to hate few things more than political cartoons. They are ass. They are clumsy. It's always some goddamn tidal wave with the word 'Iraq' scratched into it, or some other object that possesses such weak power of symbolism that it has something inelegantly scribbled on it. Or some crude stereotype or worn-out cliche. And like every tenth one has to have some bimbo on it just to give those cranky old men some excuse to draw tits.
posted by troybob at 1:32 PM on February 19, 2009


I think the cartoon is fine. I think that "those" people are looking for something that's offensive, and saying "Um.....I can't believe you did that!" are dip-shits looking to start some meaningless shit.
Listen....the facts are: Obama didn't write the stimulus bill, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid did.
I find nothing objectionable about this. If Reid hadn't given the ape xanax then everything would be fine and Nancy would still have her face....

What I don't get is why are Pelosi & Reid still the heads of their houses? They are both the most unqualified-inarticulate people. They should be replaced by pretty much any of the other dems in congress. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has a good head on her shoulders, & some bright ideas.

Anybody else agree?
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:33 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's obvious that the monkey does not represent Congress, because it is not wearing a beauty-contestant sash across it's chest that says 'CONGRESS'.
posted by troybob at 1:34 PM on February 19, 2009 [34 favorites]


It's obvious that the monkey does not represent Congress, because it is not wearing a beauty-contestant sash across it's chest that says 'CONGRESS'.

Winner.
posted by billysumday at 1:35 PM on February 19, 2009


Anybody else agree?

not i. not in the slightest. unless you're joking.
posted by stubby phillips at 1:35 PM on February 19, 2009


So let's say they did compare Obama to a monkey. So? Why is that comparison automatically racist instead of an attack on his intelligence as it was with Bush?

"Monkey" is frequently used as a racist term. I've generally heard it modified as "porch monkey" or "welfare monkey" and some others I don't care to remember. It references a belief held by some that black people are not human, or are less human. There were several "monkey" and "Curious George" digs directed at Obama during the campaign that were racist in intent. These were not, as is the case with Bush, directed at Obama's intelligence nor at his unique physical attributes. They were specific references to the fact that he is black.

When I heard about the cartoon, before I had seen it, I thought the same thing - that it was referencing a current news item, and it was quite possible that there was an overreaction. There was some pretty vile stuff going on in the underbelly of the presidential campaign, so that's still a bit of a a raw spot.

Now that I've seen the thing, I have to say that even if it wasn't intended to be racist, it certainly scans that way. I thought it was going to be more of a stretch when I heard the description, so I was surprised at how immediately that subtext sprang to mind. I also noted the implied advocation of violence, which I found a bit shocking.

I can sort of believe that Delonis didn't intend it to be quite as nasty as it reads, because he's frankly not a very good cartoonist. I don't say that because I disagree with his viewpoint, but because he doesn't handle his subject matter cleverly enough to justify the controversy he creates. He's obvious, hamfisted, and really unfunny; there are cartoonists at the opposite end of the political spectrum that embody those qualities, and they're equally tiresome. In the act of attempting to use the story of the violent chimpanzee attack to make a statement about the recklessness of the stimulus package (which I am charitably guessing was the intent) he ended up inadvertently (and again - I'm being nice here) creating something that could be easily read as a racist caricature. A more savvy cartoonist might have been able to pull it off, and a more savvy editor might have said "Whoa, hold up there, Hoss, that's looking kinda not OK." Given the cartoonist and the paper we're talking about - yeah, I can see that sliding right on by.

Now of course, Delonis is free to draw whatever crappy cartoon he wishes, and the Post is free to print whatever drivel it sees fit. They are also as free as the rest of us to bear the consequences of what they say, whether it's simply reckless and irresponsible or purposefully vile - we are free to call them on their bullshit.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:39 PM on February 19, 2009


Am I the only one basking in the delicious irony of begrudging the use of the word 'niggardly'?

And back on topic, the cartoon is not only in bad taste, but also really poorly drawn. Every time I look at it, it's like the cops are flying above the monkey in space or something. What the hell? Are they supposed to be standing in the same plane as the monkey?

A poor message, a poor depiction, in poor taste above all: is this what passes for professional-grade satiric cartooning? Forget the race angle for a minute and ask yourself: how does this guy even have a job, based simply on his sheer lack of talent?
posted by Brak at 1:42 PM on February 19, 2009


Also, one of the ape's legs is about half as long as the other. This guy does not know how to draw.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:46 PM on February 19, 2009


Brak:how does this guy even have a job, based simply on his sheer lack of talent?

I don't think talent's a major factor, honestly.
posted by flatluigi at 1:46 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the cartoon at all. But, then again, political cartoons are generally incoherent.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:50 PM on February 19, 2009


Just out of curiosity, is there a list of companies that advertise with the NY Post kicking around somewhere?
posted by mullingitover at 2:11 PM on February 19, 2009


You know, it's amazing how society......blah blah blah wonk wonk wonk! Let's move on and get this out of the news cycle. Halfwits are no longer in control. Why give them attention?
posted by Flex1970 at 2:13 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe he should have drawn Mohammed in place of the monkey?
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:14 PM on February 19, 2009


Maybe he should have drawn Mohammed in place of the monkey?

That wouldn't make sense, honestly, because of, you know, riba or whatever. Not Reba, as in McEntire, but riba, like, no lending or taking of money that you don't have.
posted by billysumday at 2:17 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You- and I'm speaking to every white person in this thread- know damn well that racists compare black people to apes, that racists claim black people are "under-evolved", and so on. You know goddamn well about this. This whole "Oh, I'm so not racist that I was unaware of one of the most popular and widespread racist slurs against black people" act is dishonest and fucking unbecoming of you, and nobody is impressed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:39 PM on February 19


Did you even fucking read what was written here? Did you? Of course they're aware that racists made those comparisons. But they are also aware that there are a host of comparisons of people to apes that have nothing to do with race. The fact that people aren't as hypersensitive, almost clinically-certifiable-as-paranoid sensitive, to race that they interpret the cartoon in some other plausible way does not make them dishonest.

People shouldn't use the word niggardly because someone who is completely fucking ignorant might construe it as racist? Is that supposed to be a joke? If so, it manages to be less funny than this shitty cartoon. If not, should all children be taught at age 3 the proper pronunciation of the countries "Niger" and "Nigeria" lest they accidentally mispronounce it and trigger a race war? I bet people who are sensitive to words like "niggardly" also titter nervously everytime someone mispronounces "Uranus."

While we're at it, now that we've all learned to encode our thoughts with phrases like "urban music" and "urban culture" in such a way that they include Dr. Dre but not the Beastie Boys, can you please tell me what "urbanization" of a geographic area means? Is "urban planning" a racist term because it implies white paternalism? Is the phrase "suburban" some kind of new reverse racism? Please let me know, I'd hate to think I might offend someone.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:18 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, is there a list of companies that advertise with the NY Post kicking around somewhere?
posted by mullingitover at 5:11 PM on February 19


Yes. The list is called "the pages of the New York Post." If you want to further enforce corporate control over political speech, a least do a bit of work.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:20 PM on February 19, 2009


Seeing as how I don't really know anybody who's under the impression that Barack Obama wrote the stimulus package, I can't see how this could be intended as racist. And seeing as how the NY Post is, well, the NY post, I don't think they had any idea what they were doing when they published this idiotic cartoon - and, while they're correct in their assessment of Al Sharpton as an 'opportunist' in their reactions to his statements, I don't see what that has to do with their publishing an idiotic cartoon.

Anyhow, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs gave what I think is the most summary comment about this whole silly debacle (link):

"I have not seen the cartoon," he told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama returned to Washington from Arizona, where he announced his plan to deal with the foreclosure crisis. "But I don't think it's altogether newsworthy reading the New York Post."
posted by koeselitz at 2:25 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


First of all, thanks for fixing the link, Cortex; I started with a link to the original Page 6 cartoon, but either I messed it up, or the Post got tired of people linking to it.

As for the whole controversy, I think it is obvious that there's some plausible deniablility going on, which is a standard tactic of the Right Wing. On the other hand, it's quite unbelievable to me that anyone with the knowledge that: a) the stimulus package is commonly called "Obama's Stimulus Plan" and b) that "monkey" and "chimp" are common derogatory terms for blacks and not make the connection.

But, then again, that may be a matter of perspective, and deliberately blinkered perspective at that. As this previous thread shows, perspectives of the same things can vary drastically between whites and people of color. Also, the insistence that something people of color see as racist isn't actually racist can do a lot to aggravate racial tensions. At this point, though I was originally interested in the way the issue was caught up in the international news and blog circuit, to me now that most fascinating element is that there are parallel lines of denial and explanation of racial content going on in the commentaries of both the editorial cartoon, and the Livejournal debate. It points out that there's a huge gap in interpreting racial matters between people in the white and non-white communities. And part of that gap consists of people in the white community complaining that there really isn't a gap at all.

And finally, I honestly didn't intend to be a one-issue poster when I came here. Maybe I'll post about a ghost story next.
posted by happyroach at 2:25 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]



I mean, surely, you meant to somehow discredit my comment by pointing out my race and state of origin, but I can't for the life of me understand how you thought it would work.


*consults list from last meeting of every black person in America*

Nope, Pope Guilty is on the list of "ok white people"

but watch the mixing of vanilla and chocolate shakes,ok?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


And yes, there's just no way to interpret it in non-racist terms.

Yes there is.

He was thinking about the crazy monkey story. "Hey," he thinks, "maybe the crazy monkey that the cops shot also wrote the stimulus bill ... because that thing was nuts!"

Is that not a possible explanation? Does this interpretation fit the facts? Has this cartoonist ever been known to make racial comments in the past?
posted by Bonzai at 2:30 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh hey BB, am I still on the list?
posted by Mister_A at 2:31 PM on February 19, 2009


Nope, Pope Guilty is on the list of "ok white people"

Can I be on the list? I respectfully request that the motion be put forth at the next black people meeting.
posted by Evangeline at 2:32 PM on February 19, 2009


Yes. The list is called "the pages of the New York Post." If you want to further enforce corporate control over political speech, a least do a bit of work.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:20 PM on February 19


Ah yes, a proposed consumer boycott of advertisers in a loathsome tabloid run by a wealthy right-wing shill is now to be called "corporate control over political speech."

That is some fancy fucking judo right there, Pastabagel.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:35 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


You see, liberals are the real racists because
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:37 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


but watch the mixing of vanilla and chocolate shakes, ok?

But, a Black Cow (aka Brown Cow) Milkshake is okay...and quite tasty!
posted by ericb at 2:39 PM on February 19, 2009


People shouldn't use the word niggardly because someone who is completely fucking ignorant might construe it as racist? Is that supposed to be a joke?

You're welcome to be as un-niggardly with niggardly as you like. Please upload the video footage of you walking around south-central LA telling the local youths that they seem to be niggardly with their front-yard maintenance. I'm sure they'll find your etymological explanations of the Scandinavian roots of the word most edifying.

Cf. "Realpolitik".
posted by GuyZero at 2:41 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


But they are also aware that there are a host of comparisons of people to apes that have nothing to do with race.

Simia quam similis, turpissima bestia, nobis!
- Cicero
posted by kid ichorous at 2:41 PM on February 19, 2009


What I don't get is why are Pelosi & Reid still the heads of their houses? They are both the most unqualified-inarticulate people. They should be replaced by pretty much any of the other dems in congress. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has a good head on her shoulders, & some bright ideas.

Oh my god, Don't get me started on that stupid, grand-standing idiot. A week ago she was claiming she might not even vote fore the stimulus, she was one of the 'centrists' who chopped 600,000 jobs out of it and then twittered, yes, twittered this:
Proud we cut over 100 billion out of recov bill.Many Ds don't like it, but needed to be done.The silly stuff Rs keep talking about is OUT.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on February 19, 2009


Or do you think that the whole "million monkeys writing Shakespeare" trope is a racist diatribe?

I didn't know Shakespeare was black!

Also the infinite monkeys theorem doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the work of Shakespeare or monkeys. It's about probability. So, really, it doesn't matter that there's only one chimp. It still wouldn't make sense. Unless he's saying it seems like the stimulus took an infinite amount of time to write.

(Also it would still probably be racist. It's not like it has to be only racist for it to be racist at all. As it stands, the impression is that the cartoon BOTH has the racist comparison of a black person to a chimp AND is trying to say that the stimulus sucks, at the same time).
posted by lampoil at 2:43 PM on February 19, 2009


can I still be on the list of "people black people like" if I drink vanilla lattes?
posted by desjardins at 2:49 PM on February 19, 2009


I have a question for everyone who says that "Niggardly" can't be offensive because it doesn't share an etymology with "Nigger". Do you think it's offensive to call a black person "Negro" if you're speaking Spanish? Because the Spanish word for black and the word Nigger do share an etymology.

Also, I've never once heard the word Niggardly used outside of the context of people discussing race and offensiveness. I mean, it's just not a word that ever gets used other then when people complain about how anyone who gets offended by it is a retard.
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on February 19, 2009



Is that not a possible explanation? Does this interpretation fit the facts? Has this cartoonist ever been known to make racial comments in the past?


Well, uh ... Ten Vile Cartoons from Sean Delonas
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:51 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's just not a word that ever gets used other then when people complain about how anyone who gets offended by it is a retard.

We are, understandably, niggardly with its use.
posted by GuyZero at 2:56 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


didn't have time to preview but ...

not everything is about race all of the time.
posted by LilBucner at 2:58 PM on February 19, 2009


If that lady had been bitten by her crazed pet zebra, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2009


I'm not seeing any evidence in the cartoonist's past that suggests he capable of anything anywhere close to as subtle as what is being attributed to him here. Can anyone link to a cartoon in his past that uses "dog-whistles" as opposed to big, dumb, easily labeled offensiveness?
posted by Bookhouse at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2009


I'm not a sailor, so when we were at the dock and my friend asked me to tie one of the lines to the moor, I quite naturally tied it to the African American dock keeper. Imagine my chagrin.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


When you say "George Bush" is a monkey, you're saying "His appearance is apelike" or "he is unintelligent" or some variant thereof. There are properties that we associate with monkeys that we may or may not associate with GWB, but even if you disagree and say "Actually, I think he's quite intelligent," you understand the idea that GWB might be accused of being unintelligent. By contrast, he is not usually portrayed as being vain, so if you tried to use a peacock to represent him, you'd just confuse people. Similarly, if you used a tortoise, people wouldn't get it, because nobody really says "George Bush reacts slowly to things." By contrast, especially during the $400-haricut kerfluffle, you could use a peacock to stand in for John Edwards, and people would know who you meant if the context was appropriate.

Obama has several well-known 'weaknesses,' or if you prefer, areas that people like to attack him on. For example, he's haughty, inexperienced, maybe sneaky. So for maximum "He's a secret Muslim agent!" effect you could use a snake to represent him; for inexperience, you might portray him as an adorable little puppy who everybody fawns over but who's being menaced by huge fearsome dogs (labelled "recession" and "terrorism") that he can't possibly defeat. He has been treated as a vain creature; maybe you could make him a peacock. But nobody really accuses him of being stupid in the sense of "unintelligent." The man taught law; his opponents describe his press conference as being like lectures. So that's not what you mean when you portray him as a monkey.

What, then, does "Obama as Monkey" mean? Monkeys are (in the language of metaphor) stupid, which Obama is not associated with. Monkeys are silly, which Obama is usually not considered. Monkeys are, though, primitive. And Obama is black.

Put another way: The monkey is obviously a metaphor. When we Monkey GWB, we're calling him stupid. When we Monkey Obama, since he's not stupid... what are we doing? What could possibly be meant by that? And we quickly arrive at "He is primitive, sub-human."
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


How about, "This bill was authored by a bunch of monkeys?"

Or do you think that the whole "million monkeys writing Shakespeare" trope is a racist diatribe?


Let me try to understand your defense of the non-racist character of the cartoon: It was trying to say that if you killed one enraged monkey then that would put the number of monkeys needed to randomly generate a stimulus package just below the critical number, so that they would need to find at least one more monkey to write the package. Do I have that right? I hope not, because that is the most tortured rationale I could imagine.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:10 PM on February 19, 2009


I've never once heard the word Niggardly used outside of the context of people discussing race and offensiveness.


I have. Just because you run with an uneducated crowd doesn't mean we all do.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


didn't have time to preview but ...

Maybe you should preview.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:13 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never once heard the word Niggardly used outside of the context of people discussing race and offensiveness.

Get out some, bro. In fact, I remember it being half of an analogy on a GRE practice test I took once. Damn Kaplan. Bunch of racists!!
posted by billysumday at 3:14 PM on February 19, 2009


"If it was a white monkey, I still would be offended." - Hilarious idiocy on The View
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:16 PM on February 19, 2009


I grew up in a DC suburb, at schools with no racial majority.

The only contexts I knew of for people being called monkeys was to make fun of their looks or intelligence; to emphasize the playfulness of children ("12 little monkeys jumping on the bed"); or in the TV show, "The Monkees." I also remember a line from a movie or TV show or TV ad, "Who you calling chump, chimp?" But I have no idea what that movie was about, since I saw it so long ago. (The line may have been spoken to a character that was an actual primate.)

In history class we learned about what "scientists" were saying about black brain size vs. white brain size and comparisons of black people to primates, just as we learned how people used the biblical story of Ham, Shem and Japheth after the great flood to justify slavery. But we didn't hear the word "Monkey" or "Ape" used hatefully.

Neither I (half-white, half-Asian, with black and Jewish neighbors) nor my wife (white, from Upstate New York) knew that primate-related terms like "monkey" were historical racial slurs until well after we were old enough to drink. And no, we didn't live under rocks.

If the slur is called historical, it implies that it's not a current meaning. It seems to me that complaining every time it comes up prevents the meaning from truly falling to deprecation.

BTW: My first reaction to the cartoon (which may have been affected by people telling me I ought to be outraged before I saw it) was that they were saying the stimulus bill was written by monkeys. Making the leap to say "They're saying Obama is a monkey because he is black" requires the reader to first believe the notions that any American newspaper would make a joke about shooting an American president (which I find absurd, even preposterous), and that any 21st century American newspaper would publish the "black people are monkeys" message on its editorial pages (which I find unlikely). Those notions may be something many of you believe about the New York Post, but I don't think even President Obama would believe that. It would sure be nice if he would weigh in on the matter.
posted by bugmuncher at 3:20 PM on February 19, 2009


after you've tried to read that sign that says maybe something about a dog;
I think it says 'Beware of Dog' but that doesn't make sense on a pole on a public sidewalk.
posted by tellurian at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2009


It would sure be nice if [Obama] would weigh in on the matter.

Actually, I hope he has better things to do than to tell us whether or not he's offended by a stupid cartoon.
posted by desjardins at 3:24 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


There are caricatures, and there are caricatures. Wow.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:26 PM on February 19, 2009


The joke will be on him if that dead gorilla solved Pelosi's recession.
posted by valentinepig at 3:36 PM on February 19, 2009


bugmuncher, If the slur is called historical, it implies that it's not a current meaning. It seems to me that complaining every time it comes up prevents the meaning from truly falling to deprecation.


Not that historical. Fairly current in fact.

Also, "I know black people" is one of the weakest personal defenses of one's ignorance one can toss out in a debate like this. I bet your next statement was that some of your best friends are black, right?

The bottom line is, maybe the people who say "Gee, I can't see why black people are so bugged about these things" are not the right people to actually state whether something is racist or not.
posted by happyroach at 3:37 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know perfectly well that "niggardly" has nothing to do with "nigger" but I also know that a lot of people have never seen, used or studied the etymology of the word "niggardly" and that I'm a lot better off just using "cheap" or "parsimonious" instead.

You know what I think? I think that this word got sensitized because someone with some visibility and pull who didn't know the word jumped to the conclusion that it was derived from "nigger" and went off on a rant. Because of this person's standing, others picked up the cry. Now I used the word for years (I love words) before I heard anyone imply that it might be an indelicate word to use. It really pisses me off when the ignorant win one over the intelligent and informed. That's why I think.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:48 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are caricatures, and there are caricatures. Wow.

See, there's another editorial cartoon completely bereft of coherence. The (presumably) teacher says, "Did you actually read it?" as Obama turns in something he wrote, which has nothing to do with any book that he ostensibly did or did not read. There's no metaphorical book or other body of reading within a hundred miles of this tortured analogy. What preposterous leap of faith am I supposed to make to glean anything meaningful out of that cartoon?

You and flatluigi have convinced me that the collective group known as professional editorial cartoonists is comprised of no trivial number of dimwitted jackasses. Sheesh.
posted by Brak at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2009


And as I have heard the story, Obama didn't write the stimulus plan. From what I can tell, he's got a lotta other things to do than author a 1K page plus spending plan.

It was pretty clear in both the MSM and on Fox that the final version of the bill was heavily leveraged by the wishes of Arlen Spector, Susan Collins and Olympia Snow. Can't really see the racist angle there. Those names have gotten a lot more airtime, esp. in GOP circles lately, than Obama in connection with who's to blame for getting the thing passed.

So, in conclusion, he's suggesting that the rogue RINOs need to get the leaded welcome. Possibly even Congress. But yes, please continue play the righteously indignified. Where were you when Obama was putting lipstick on a Palin? Or was that a pig? Probably defending *his* honor.

Just a terrible cartoon. Check your local paper - thair in thar, 2.
posted by valentinepig at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2009


Oh hey BB, am I still on the list?

Perhaps we should step out into the hall and talk....

can I still be on the list of "people black people like" if I drink vanilla lattes?

Good question, I'll bring it up at the next meeting.

I bet your next statement was that some of your best friends are black, right?

We just tell people that so they'll shut up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Where were you when Obama was putting lipstick on a Palin? Or was that a pig?

Um, it was Palin who applied that metaphor to herself. Or did you just get here?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:58 PM on February 19, 2009


No, you are confusing her self depiction as a pit bull sans lipstick with the wholly specious (and separate) accusations that Obama meant her when he talked about putting lipstick on a pig. I thought that kerfuffle was even sillier than this one.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2009




I have. Just because you run with an uneducated crowd doesn't mean we all do.

What? How would knowing what a word means but not using because it might offend someone make them uneducated?
posted by delmoi at 4:19 PM on February 19, 2009


“Furthermore, let's say hypothetically the intent of the cartoon was racist. Again, so what? Racism isn't a crime.”

Well, uh, y’know, advocating shooting the president would be criminal.

That said on first blush I thought it was a complete non-sequitur. As said above, Markovfilter.
And I stand by my comment in the former thread that throwing feces at it is an appropriate response.
(Mark Twain advocated hurling dead cats and rotten tomatoes at a public exhibition you don’t like. I’m a bit more scatological I guess.)
Still - plenty of t-shirts, cartoons, whatnot equating - directly - Obama with a monkey.

If it’s not part of that then at best this is like one of those ubiquitous crappy newspaper comics with, say, Marmaduke soaking wet and someone saying something like “Well, you did say ‘soap’!”
I mean - wtf? People get paid for this? It’s so unfunny it’s surreal.

“Something like that. It just seems more inept and dumb than evil.”

Well, y’know, you can fix ‘evil.’ Stupid is eternal.

“I already know I don't really want to say this, but isn't the whole 'he should have known better' thing kind of exactly like that whole 'blaming the victim' thing?”

Y’know - all of this talk about common sense vs. the ideal. Some kid wearing a dress people ideally should be tolerant. Practically though, some quarters, he’s going to get his ass kicked. Same deal with “niggardly.” Same deal with this.
‘Oh, well it doesn’t have the same etymology’ - yeah try explaining that with a pool cue shoved up your ass.
Same deal here. Maybe the intent wasn’t racist. Maybe it was. Certain quarters he’s gonna get his ass kicked metaphorically (or literally, some places). Right or wrong doesn’t really enter into it.
Doesn’t matter if he’s trying to con anyone and be coy or not or whatever he meant.
He could be the most innocent guy in the world on this, he’s still a shill hack for these people and he’d take a beating for that. I don’t think any tears are going to be shed over a mistake over what he meant. Hell, just a bonus if he really meant something anyway.
But really, doesn’t matter because ‘deserve’ has got nothing to do with the flak this guy is taking.
He can say whatever he wants, and they can publish whatever they like, nothing that says they’re not going to get crap over it. Warranted or otherwise.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:20 PM on February 19, 2009


The bottom line is, maybe the people who say "Gee, I can't see why black people are so bugged about these things" are not the right people to actually state whether something is racist or not.

Even disregarding the false dichotomy lurking in "racist or not," just who would be qualified to write the last word on this question? Racialicious and Al Sharpton? Some four billion People of Color? You?
posted by kid ichorous at 4:23 PM on February 19, 2009


Political cartoons make commentary on current events, yes? Well, the algebra of this cartoon works like this:

Current event: Obama submits stimulus package.
Unrelated current event: Rampaging chimp shot by police.
Artist's commentary: Police kill the chimp responsible for the stimulus package.

???

Even if you were to perform the mental gymnastics necessary to not interpret this cartoon as racist, it seems a little disingenuous to say it would take extraordinary leaps of artistic interprettation to be able to see this cartoon as racist. I mean come on. "But Obama didn't write the stimulus package! Lots of people did!" Really? This ignores the fact that plans, policies and directives issued by every preceding president have also been written by a team but are ultimately attributed to the president (e.g., Bush's war, Clinton's budget proposal, etc.). Seriously. You honestly think it's a stretch to see this as racist? I don't know whether that wide-eyed naivety is genuine or charitble to the normally classy and sophisticated staff of the New York Post, but I don't think you need to hold a doctorate in art criticism to flesh out the racist undertones of this cartoon.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:25 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have. Just because you run with an uneducated crowd doesn't mean we all do.
What? How would knowing what a word means but not using because it might offend someone make them uneducated?

The original comment was made in reference to this one:

I've never once heard the word Niggardly used outside of the context of people discussing race and offensiveness.

I.e. not in reference to the comment about refraining from using the word.
posted by Brak at 4:30 PM on February 19, 2009


In retrospect, I don't think my last comment actually answers your question, so never mind. I thought the original comment was more tongue-in-cheek anyway.
posted by Brak at 4:34 PM on February 19, 2009


You're welcome to be as un-niggardly with niggardly as you like. Please upload the video footage of you walking around south-central LA telling the local youths that they seem to be niggardly with their front-yard maintenance. I'm sure they'll find your etymological explanations of the Scandinavian roots of the word most edifying.

It's one of those words I would probably use in print with few qualms, but doesn't really work out loud. There are a lot of words like that. Sometimes someone really needs to SEE the word to understand what you mean. Like all language, context is everything; some words and phrases work really well on a picket sign, and some work well in novels, and some work well in legal documents. A good education cultivates the ability to discern what goes where, and while not everyone has access to one, inquisitiveness -- not outrage -- ought to be the default reaction to encountering something unfamiliar. If all words are as powerful and nuanced in their usage as people want to believe when slurs start to fly, then these near-miss words also have their time and place.

The problem with this cartoon is ultimately a crisis of words; a better caption -- or even just a slightly different one -- would have saved all this trouble. The cartoonist was shortsighted, but the blame rests with his editor.
posted by hermitosis at 4:37 PM on February 19, 2009


This cartoon is far, far worse than merely racist.

It is a cynical and finely calculated attempt to stir up racial hatreds to gain political advantage.

It blew up in their faces, though; thank God Murdoch and his lickspittles are so tone-deaf.
posted by jamjam at 4:40 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


DELMOI : there is no word for nigger in Spanish, negro and negra are not only acceptable : negrito and negrita are used as terms of endearment between family and/or lovers, regardless of the person's race or skin color. if my memory doesnt fail me, the use can be traced back to 15th century literature in romance poetry. i think La Celestina has the use somewhere in there.

btw, the same use goes for prieto/prieta, prietito/prietita which are more colloquial.

The translation for nigger is not a word but a phrase : negro sucio or negra sucia.

notice that DIRTY is important here for NIGGER has not only been used to describe black people, it also was used by Brits/WASPs to describe the Irish and most poor white europeans ("white trash") all the way up to the beginning of the 20th century. particularly peasants, "potato eaters" and catholics.
posted by liza at 4:47 PM on February 19, 2009


Am I missing something about this stimulus bill? I haven't been following closely, but the CBC and The Daily Show both represent it as Obama's. To split hairs about who actually wrote it, while interesting from a certain perspective, is just deluded in the context of this cartoon.


He was thinking about the crazy monkey story. "Hey," he thinks, "maybe the crazy monkey that the cops shot also wrote the stimulus bill ... because that thing was nuts!"

Is that not a possible explanation? Does this interpretation fit the facts? Has this cartoonist ever been known to make racial comments in the past?


And in other news, this wasn't meant to look like a penis.
posted by Chuckles at 4:51 PM on February 19, 2009




RELATED :
We Irish, famed for our joviality and open doors, appear to be suffering from a nasty bout of national amnesia.

Not long ago, before our egos and bank balances became grossly swollen by an economic construct called the Celtic Tiger, we were more often known as the Celtic Nigger. The Irish were the niggers of Europe. Ugly word. But that’s what we were - the niggers of Europe.

The Irish, more than any nation in Western civilisation, have bled emigrants all over the world.

From as far back as the famine atrocity, we have left these shores in swathes. Catching the Tiger’s tale has meant, for the first time in generations, that hundreds have been able to swing back home.

We have forgotten our coffin ships and yet, for others, they still exist. Fifty eight men and women died in Dover last week, in sealed containers, in a lorry. Had they made it to England and Ireland they would have been classed as semi criminals.
Editorial: Racial Intolerance, The Irish Examiner
posted by liza at 4:54 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You see, liberals are the real racists because

...well, this.


One comment on MetaFilter does not represent all of liberaldom.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:03 PM on February 19, 2009


Happyroach writes:Also, "I know black people" is one of the weakest personal defenses of one's ignorance one can toss out in a debate like this. I bet your next statement was that some of your best friends are black, right?

I spoke ebonics even though my Asian dad beat me for it; you can probably guess who my friends were. I'm not saying it like it's some kind of credential. All I'm saying is that the kids in my mostly black hood, and later when I moved to the mostly jewish hood, had never heard of anyone calling someone a monkey in a racial way. It was obscure to us, just as it is obscure to many reasonable, caring, people who don't spend their time thinking up words to say to hurt people. If that makes all of us ignorant, then you are welcome to think so. I would think it just makes us more innocent.

Some people go out of their way to use it racially, as you demonstrated in your links. And that's a shame. But that doesn't make it any less obscure to those of us that have never heard it.

The bottom line is, maybe the people who say "Gee, I can't see why black people are so bugged about these things" are not the right people to actually state whether something is racist or not.

The only person who is the right person to state whether a piece of artwork is racist is the artist. Anyone who disagrees with the previous statement obviously enjoys the psychologically abusive practice of telling someone (or, being told by someone else) what they think. :-)
posted by bugmuncher at 5:06 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Irish were the niggers of Europe.

Aside from the Jews, the Romani, the Muslims, and, um, the Africans...sure, why not?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:07 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That "Happyroach" and "bugmuncher" are having a discussion should serve as a beacon of hope to us all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:09 PM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Aside from the Jews, the Romani, the Muslims, and, um, the Africans...sure, why not?

That guy in The Commitments was pretty convincing. What a great documentary.
posted by box at 5:10 PM on February 19, 2009


One comment on MetaFilter does not represent all of liberaldom.

Of course not.

OTOH, I've been responding to more than one comment.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:13 PM on February 19, 2009


Do you think it's offensive to call a black person "Negro" if you're speaking Spanish?

No.

Because the Spanish word for black and the word Nigger do share an etymology.

And?

Also, I've never once heard the word Niggardly used outside of the context of people discussing race and offensiveness.

Your experiences are not the sum total of the world's experiences, delmoi.
posted by sidr at 5:35 PM on February 19, 2009


you'd think that a business that is struggling in a bad economy using dated technology wouldn't be so quick to offend its customers

i find it more than a little scary that this not-racist not-obama monkey has been shot dead by not-unauthorized not-assassins

do the people behind this have anything to offer this country besides sheer nastiness?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:39 PM on February 19, 2009


The only person who is the right person to state whether a piece of artwork is racist is the artist.

I don't know much about art, but you know even less. This is patently absurd. If I draw a picture of Obama hanging by his neck from a tree surrounded by people in hooded robes that say "Informed Voters" and I say it's not racist, am I right? Really?
posted by GuyZero at 5:40 PM on February 19, 2009


Or were you being ironic? Goddamn, someone hand me a map here.
posted by GuyZero at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2009


Wait, Obama's black?

And niggardly.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2009


A subject of this importance calls for a GOOGLE FIGHT!

Obviously, there is nothing more to say on this matter...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2009



You and flatluigi have convinced me that the collective group known as professional editorial cartoonists is comprised of no trivial number of dimwitted jackasses.



That's not entirely fair. I've seen lots of mediocre cartoonists, some horrible ones, and some that are very, very good. I wanted to be a political cartoonist myself, and occasionally have gotten paid for it. I'm a fair caricaturist, but I don't have the stamina to be the ravening politics junkie doing the job constantly requires.

There are two things that a political cartoonist should know and understand; he should have a pitched ear for current events and recent history, and he should have a broad understanding of visual symbolism so that he can convey his point without having to spell too much out. If he grasps both of those points well, he should be able to convey his message without hitting marks he's not aiming for. The charitable interpretation supposes that Delonis is culturally tone-deaf enough that he doesn't know the racial symbolism a monkey might imply - and even if you've never heard the term used as a slur, it's something that someone who uses visual shorthand to make his point should be well aware of - and forgetful enough of recent political events that he doesn't recall that on many occasions throughout then Presidential campaign, McCain and Palin supporters used images of Curious George and monkeys specifically to insult Barack Obama's race.

Again, I'm being nice here, assuming Delonis did not actually mean the cartoon to be racist. This interpretation just assumes that he's a shit cartoonist. A good cartoonist doesn't piss off anyone unless he damn well means it.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:50 PM on February 19, 2009


ChurchHatesTucker: "Obviously, there is nothing more to say on this matter..."

Yes, you're disingenuous. We get it.
posted by mullingitover at 6:05 PM on February 19, 2009


Yes, you're disingenuous. We get it.

At least link back for context.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:13 PM on February 19, 2009


... another interpretation supposes that Delonis knew exactly what he was doing and purposefully put out a cartoon he knew could be interpreted as racist because there's juuuuust enough plausible deniability there that he could get away with it and still get buttloads of attention - attention that his artwork would not get on its own merit. Now he can pat himself on the back for being a martyr to PC censoriousness and bask in the glow of his 15 minutes without having to do any quality work.

But that assumes that he's both a shitty cartoonist AND a famewhore, which is just mean.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:17 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks to the "This Is Historic Times" link from ODIV, I am hereafter referring to our new Prez as "President Isildur."
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:32 PM on February 19, 2009


Oh hey, and now Rupert's minions are at it again.
posted by mullingitover at 6:45 PM on February 19, 2009


"To those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due."

- The NYP
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2009


I'm not racist - some of my best friends are black!

I'm not a murderer - some of my best friends are alive!

I'm not a pedophile - some of my best friends are chil-...no, wait, that doesn't really work does it?

/sean lock
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2009


Ah, there it is. "We're sorry you were offended ... You pearl-clutching, thin-skinned little girls. Sorry to trample on your delicate PC sensibilities. Unless you've criticized the Post before, in which case, screw you."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:21 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


What a mealy-mouthed apology. They might as well have printed "FUCK YOU HATERS".

I am hating both the player and the game in this case.
posted by GuyZero at 7:21 PM on February 19, 2009


I loved the opening most of all:
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.
"So when the cops shot the primate responsible for the stimulus bill, we weren't taking a dig at Obama. Obviously, because the president has nothing to do with the stimulus bill. It's not like the entire mainstream media is refering to it as 'the Obama stimulus package' or anything. Sheesh!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's my pacificist tendencies speaking here, but I honestly found it more disturbing that a chimp was shown to be shot than that the presumed author of the stimulus bill was a chimp. (Although I can see why it can be seen as racist) Yes, I do realize that it was based on an actual incident, but that shooting wasn't that funny, was it.

This is a democracy. You aren't entitled to marginalize every dissenting opinion and shuttle it off to the lunatic fringe.

Pastabagel man, you often have some clever insights into world affairs, I have a lot of respect for analytical abilities, but this sadly isn't one of those days. Seriously, what the heck was that? Free society is all about the state not bothering with matters relating opinion and expression; it has jack-squat to do with how people _react_ to "dissenting" opinion (Dissenting from what? That chimps being killed is disturbing?)

More to the point, why should an economic boycott be the only possible response when you feel something is offensive?
posted by the cydonian at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2009


"This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due
."

This sounds a lot like a "Sorry, but fuck y'all anyway."

If I was a Murdoch reporter, I'd likely have to severely edit a quote like that, because of space limitations (need to leave room for the ads, after all). Probably it would end up looking a little something like this:

“[The cartoon] shows two police officers standing over the chimp’s body: ‘They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,’ one officer says. It was meant to mock [the] ineptly written federal stimulus bill…of President Obama…a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was…its intent; to those who were offended by the image…no apology is due.”
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:28 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


DELMOI : there is no word for nigger in Spanish, negro and negra are not only acceptable : negrito and negrita are used as terms of endearment between family and/or lovers, regardless of the person's race or skin color. if my memory doesnt fail me, the use can be traced back to 15th century literature in romance poetry. i think La Celestina has the use somewhere in there.
I know that, what I mean if the argument is that niggardly can't be offensive because it doesn't share an etymology with nigger is weakened by the fact words that do share the etymology are not all offensive. I'm not offended by the word, but I am annoyed by people who whine constantly about how anyone who is is some kind of retard, hypersensitive, uneducated, etc.
Not long ago, before our egos and bank balances became grossly swollen by an economic construct called the Celtic Tiger, we were more often known as the Celtic Nigger. The Irish were the niggers of Europe. Ugly word. But that’s what we were - the niggers of Europe.
Huh, They forgot Poland!
posted by delmoi at 8:16 PM on February 19, 2009


Please upload the video footage of you walking around south-central LA telling the local youths that they seem to be niggardly with their front-yard maintenance. I'm sure they'll find your etymological explanations of the Scandinavian roots of the word most edifying.

Cf. "Realpolitik".
posted by GuyZero at 5:41 PM on February 19


Please state in clear and explicit terms why I shouldn't do that in South Central Los Angeles. What will the local youths do? Will they go 'apeshit'?

Oh, I get it, because South Central is predominantly black. And of course everyone knows that black youths only react violently and extremely irrationally to the slightest perceived verbal offense. Is that what you meant? That black youths are violent thugs?

Do you really not see how your comment was actually more insidiously racist than any use of the word niggardly, or even 'nigger' for that matter?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:31 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


... another interpretation supposes that Delonis knew exactly what he was doing and purposefully put out a cartoon he knew could be interpreted as racist because there's juuuuust enough plausible deniability there that he could get away with it and still get buttloads of attention

Of course he knew what he was doing! He's a professional editorial cartoonist for a large-circulation newspaper. Editorial cartoonists are supposed to know how symbols resonate for people emotionally and politically. If they don't, they wouldn't be any good at their job. If he realistically didn't know how people would interpret the symbolism in his cartoon, he's so politically brain dead he shouldn't be doing editorial cartoons.
posted by jonp72 at 8:45 PM on February 19, 2009


I just love that there Family Circus.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:56 PM on February 19, 2009


I know it's just basically the same joke over and over again, but I'm a sucker for those little moppet shenanigans.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:58 PM on February 19, 2009


In 2001 Dan Rather, to his credit, refused to report on missing white woman Chandra Levy on the CBS Evening News. As a response, the Post ran a cartoon showing a woman gagged and bound to a chair watching Rather on TV and the thought balloon above her head said something on the order of: "Maybe he doesn't think it's an important story."

It's depressing that way too many Americans reacted as positively to that piece of exploitation by a member of the right wing blather industry as the current dreck.

But, how else would anyone explain the popularity of Savage or Hannity or Coulter? The current economic situation combined with a black President provides the perfect storm for a haters market.

I don't know what's to be done except to muddle thru as best we can and hope for the best.
posted by wrapper at 9:22 PM on February 19, 2009


It would sure be nice if he would weigh in on the matter.

No it wouldn't. Not from the point of view of anyone who cares enough about the future of our country not to succumb to the tired tactics of racial politics.

Obama's not stupid enough to fall for this. Now of course, that probably won't stop at least some in the DC press core from repeatedly harping on the subject at press events intended to address more important issues, as per the usual book on such non-controversies. And that by itself may be enough to effectively carry off the illusion that the public response to the cartoon is somehow a substantive kerfuffle, rather than more of the usual cynical murdochian stage-craft.

It's reasonable to find the cartoon extremely offensive for any number of reasons: the simple fact is, no matter which interpretation of the image you allow, the symbolism is repugnant. Whether it represents Obama in particular or congress collectively (though the use of the singular pronoun "someone" makes that interpretation a stretch) the chimp depicted in the cartoon is explicitly meant to represent a public official shot to death in the street, as two police officers make a glib joke over the corpse. Given some of the more sinister undercurrents in recent American politics, how is it possible not to view this as incitement of a certain kind, specifically meant to reaffirm a reader's potentially violent hostility toward whatever individual or group of individuals that reader personally holds most responsible for the creation of the stimulus bill? In that sense, it stops just short of being an appeal to violent action.

That's offensive enough, racial overtones or not, and casts in a clear light just how morally bankrupt and dehumanized the editorial perspective of the Post has become in its fanatical mission to further its publisher's political agenda using the rankest forms of demagoguery.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 PM on February 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


a desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world
posted by captainsohler at 9:35 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]



"To those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due."


Wow. Thanks for the "Fuck you," guys.

I'm so sick of these bullshit non-apologies. "I'm sorry, but..." No contrition, no acknowledgment that their actions might be genuinely hurtful. "I'm sorry if you feel that way" is never an apology, ever, only a dismissal.

When did we lose sight of the distinction between being "PC reactionaries," and just being civil human beings?
posted by louche mustachio at 10:36 PM on February 19, 2009


You and flatluigi have convinced me that the collective group known as professional editorial cartoonists is comprised of no trivial number of dimwitted jackasses.

Wrong. If nothing else, the entire genre is saved by the existence of Tim Kreider and The Pain When Will It End.

Here are a few selected favorites of mine , in no particular order . Oh, and this series too!

There's no question in my mind that Kreider has been one of the superior voices of dissent during the Bush Era, is a brilliant critic of popular culture and an excellent political satirist (not to mention a really talented cartoonist--look at his faces!) and deserves much wider recognition.

I am expending a significant mental effort to keep from posting about 50 more. Give yourself a treat and take a spin through the archives.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:52 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


On a lighter note:


There are caricatures, and there are caricatures. Wow.


Holy crap, did he just slap Zip-a-tone on his Bush caricature to make his Obama? I can't even tell who that's supposed to be. Does somebody pay that guy? Amazing.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:59 PM on February 19, 2009


Pay attention, folks. Now this is the way you draw a racist political cartoon.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:56 PM on February 19, 2009


"To those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due."


A sincere, honest apology from a sincere, honest newspaper, run by a sincere, honest, racist editorial staff.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 AM on February 20, 2009


Please upload the video footage of you walking around south-central LA telling the local youths that they seem to be niggardly with their front-yard maintenance. I'm sure they'll find your etymological explanations of the Scandinavian roots of the word most edifying.

I prefer the Bruce Willis/Harlem approach.
posted by gman at 5:28 AM on February 20, 2009


I prefer the Bruce Willis/Harlem approach.

What, announcing that you hate everybody?
I'm sorry, I only saw it on TV.
posted by Spatch at 6:58 AM on February 20, 2009


“And of course everyone knows that black youths only react violently and extremely irrationally to the slightest perceived verbal offense.”

I think the allusion is to - at least in the terms I put it - the difference in the power relationship. People well removed from a situation and/or the folks who they comment on tend to be more willing to make hateful comments since there is no repercussion.
If one is close or within a community one tends to be more sensitive the the potential for unintended offense because the power relationship is such that one can be made to suffer for a poor choice of expression.
Realistically this is what happens in an equal relationship as a matter of course, with the exception that, in an equal relationship, one tends to listen more and so one tends to have more information as to whether saying something like “niggardly” would piss someone off in a given situation or not.

But because of the dispairity in power - one doesn’t have to engage the folks that might be pissed off by something. So, no listening required.
I myself at first did not see the racist angle. But, given that the cartoon is so over the top stupid and that nearly every other consideration is a non sequitur - and that I’m not in a position of power and/or so far removed that I don’t have to consider other viewpoints - I can see how it can be taken as racist. Indeed, given the first two points (stupid and nothing else really follows), I don’t see any other reasonable conclusion without assuming an idiocy of even greater magnitude.

On top of that, that kind of hate speech in my experience tends to go hand in hand with a kind of surrealistic thought. Hatred contorts the mind in to some pretty illogical places - like any strong passion.

Indeed - it’s the indictment of the folks arguing the counterpoint that folks’ outrage is making them lose coherence. So we all recognize this as a human failing.
(I say this without getting into motive and psychopathic manipulation as mentioned above - but it’s not a bad analysis).

So when I see something that makes little sense like this it’s not a bad assumption that it stems from some strong emotion. Perhaps that’s over the stimulus bill not over race issues - whatever.

But the fact remains those strong emotions and reckless expression of them tends to be muted where there is mutual respect.
Not seeing that here. And that itself is a function of the unequal order of things.
So no, not all black youth react violently to percieved verbal offense, but given the inequity inherent in the system it’d be how I’d react. Perhaps not with direct violence, but it’s one of the few tools available. And violence had already been initiated by the other side before a word is spoken.
The provocation isn’t the words or the result of some misunderstanding, it’s the years of ignoring all the problems in the black community - it’s not listening enough to know better in the first place.

This “I didn’t know ‘monkey’ was a slur” doesn’t mean dick. Hell, makes it worse that someone hasn’t been paying attention to begin with.
I thought about commenting ‘One (dead) monkey don’t stop no show’ but I figured maybe five people would get the aphorism and everyone else would misunderstand it. That’s predicated on my knowing the history of that phrase in African American culture and being exposed to it - not on my ignorance.
Pretty damned witty thing to say I’d’ve thought (boils down - essentially, given the song lyrics, context that it’s been used in, etc. - to telling Delonas he can go fuck himself, similar to the Arab proverb - ‘the dog barks, the caravan passes’ - Obama is far too large to be even distracted by this bullshit).
But I didn’t punch it. Because it’s useless if you have to explain it, but moreso because here I’m among equals and it’s not my intention to piss anyone off without regard to making a point.
I’m happy to piss someone off if were talking about something substantial, that is, if there’s an argument to be had.
As it is the “one monkey” comment would be just a quip, because even though it does have content, if it’s not understood or misunderstood, it might as well not. So it’d be just jokey entertainment. Which is swell, but not my intent - so screw it.

This cartoon - what’s the intention here? What’s he actually asserting? Anything? I’m an educated man but I find myself unable to comment intelligently as to the assertion made by this cartoon.

I cannot refute the established fact that a monkey was shot by some police officers (in the allusion to the news story).
There’s no question the bill was not literally authored by a monkey.
The conflation of these disparate things is fairly meaningless (at least without some racist overtones).
I don’t think anyone likes this cartoon, given how dumb it is, but on what grounds can one contest it? Other than racism I mean.
There’s no real idea here to contest otherwise.
Which is why both sides here are sort of right (although the Post is still very wrong).
I mean - it’s not racist in content because there is no real content.

By the same token - drive into any neighborhood, call someone a ‘Blarknerf’ and it’s all in the way you intone it as to whether you get beat on or not.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:50 AM on February 20, 2009


I was out running errands the day the cartoon hit the streets, so I didn't have the internet to immediately inform me, but I overheard some lady at the bank asking her friend if she'd seen the "cartoon with the monkey." Had no idea what they were talking about, until I go home and my husband was watching some news show and he asked if I had seen the "cartoon with the monkey." My first thoughts were something like this:

How tacky to use the recent chimp attack in a cartoon ... that's so not funny. Wait, it's about the stimulus bill, so who is the monkey supposed to be?! Are they suggesting an elected official needs to be shot?! Did the cartoonist actually use a monkey to represent Obama?!?! Is he really that dense? What a crappy and stupid editorial cartoon.

My husband was primarily outraged about the monkey/racism angle and then secondarily by the shooting an elected official part. I was primarily outraged about suggesting an elected official (Obama or whoever the cartoonist actually meant) should be shot and then secondarily about the monkey racism angle ... mostly because I couldn't believe the racism was intentional and not just caused by downright stupidity on the part of the person who drew it. Though I knew it was the racism angle that would cause the most outrage, I wish more people were just as upset that the cartoonist suggested someone on Capitol Hill needs to be shot -- most likely Obama, since he's the one who seems to be most closely associated with pushing the stimulus. To me, the cartoon's biggest offense was promoting violence against someone in the government, as they weren't promoting racism ... they were just being racist (or incredibly culturally unaware).

My husband said the paper should apologize, and I said they wouldn't, because they do all kinds of stupid stuff and never apologize. Then it was announced on the news that they had apologized. Well, no, they didn't. Not really. It was a typical non-apology apology. Basically, they just said "Sorry you stupid people took it the wrong way, and anyone who thinks we've done stupid and crass things before ... screw you." I'm pretty much sick of hearing these kinds of non-apologies.
posted by Orb at 10:31 AM on February 20, 2009


This toon is funnier.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:52 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, props to the commentor there who renamed the Post "The Daily Planet of the Apes."
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:54 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Racism 101 for White Cartoonists

(shamelessly grabbed from the excellent SA political cartoon thread)
posted by flatluigi at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


That SA political cartoon thread is really something else. Some of those cartoons make this Post one look like Guernica.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:45 AM on February 20, 2009


Let me try to understand your defense of the non-racist character of the cartoon: It was trying to say that if you killed one enraged monkey then that would put the number of monkeys needed to randomly generate a stimulus package just below the critical number, so that they would need to find at least one more monkey to write the package. Do I have that right? I hope not, because that is the most tortured rationale I could imagine.

Wait. What? I couldn't follow.


Well, I did my best. I was just trying to imagine how your defense of the cartoon via your alternative "explanations," viz.,
How about, "This bill was authored by a bunch of monkeys?"

Or do you think that the whole "million monkeys writing Shakespeare" trope is a racist diatribe?
related to the actual cartoon. Perhaps you'd like to offer your own version.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:35 PM on February 20, 2009


You know, I am pretty out of touch with the whole reality of bigotry. I commented above that the cartoon probably didn't have anything to do with Obama. Apparently, the Post has said that the dead chimp is Obama.

I can't think of any reason not to think the worst anymore. 'Taint ignorace. Fracking jaggoffs. I piss on your paper and your ideology.
posted by valentinepig at 4:03 PM on February 20, 2009


Apparently, the Post has said that the dead chimp is Obama.

They did? Where? (Not that I'd be entirely surprised.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:22 PM on February 20, 2009


This is a what you did issue, not a who you are issue. Jay Smooth is always on point.
posted by cashman at 6:02 PM on February 20, 2009


Wrong. If nothing else, the entire genre is saved by the existence of Tim Kreider and The Pain When Will It End.

Here are a few selected favorites of mine , in no particular order . Oh, and this series too!


Are you kidding? Those are terrible. Especially this one (yeah, I get this is in the future and he's talking about formerly 'enslaved' dogs and cats).
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on February 20, 2009


Are you kidding? Those are terrible. Especially this one (yeah, I get this is in the future and he's talking about formerly 'enslaved' dogs and cats).

Also, in the future, children apparently dress like Hard Gay.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:58 AM on February 21, 2009


Huh. Work safe image og a Japanese man in leather gear holding a banana = TOO HOT FOR TINYPIC.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:00 AM on February 21, 2009


(It worked for me, MStPT. But the guy is in vinyl, not leather. Maybe tinypic=vegans?)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:56 AM on February 21, 2009


Stay classy, Rupert.
posted by oaf at 2:39 PM on February 21, 2009


Are you kidding? Those are terrible. Especially this one (yeah, I get this is in the future and he's talking about formerly 'enslaved' dogs and cats).

You cannot possibly think that he's against pet ownership.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 PM on February 21, 2009


Are you kidding? Those are terrible. Especially this one (yeah, I get this is in the future and he's talking about formerly 'enslaved' dogs and cats).

The acidic fatalism isn't for everyone, I suppose. Does it for me, though.

Like this one any better?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:02 PM on February 21, 2009


You cannot possibly think that he's against pet ownership.

Yeah. That's what makes it so objectionable. He's equating pet ownership to slave ownership, and he's not against the former, so...?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:51 PM on February 23, 2009


I have to stop telling people how intelligent this place is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:34 PM on February 23, 2009


PG: There are two ways of interpreting that comic: Either the child represents a utopian future where animals have the rights of people and kids walk around in bondage gear (I get it! role reversal! it's ironic! and leather to boot!), or a dystopian one where the pinko hippie fags have corrupted the minds of our young people with their PETA and their BDSM.

It's ambiguous, and therefore ineffective.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:03 PM on February 23, 2009


And low flying points screaming overhead at supersonic speed, terrifying the populace into submission.
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on February 23, 2009


It's not about utopia or dystopia, it's about how values change over time and what used to be perfectly mainstream views are seen as monstrous. I don't really think there has to be a value judgement made about BDSM, leather, or animal rights in order to enjoy the comic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:31 PM on February 23, 2009


Murdoch statement
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:16 AM on February 24, 2009


Jesus Christ, even Murdoch can't resist the "I'm sorry you were offended" non-apology.
Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.

Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you - without a doubt - that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.
You see what he did there? He's sorry people were "insulted", and that they "interpretted" the cartoon incorrectly. If anything, we owe him an apology, right?

Of course for Murdoch to be stepping in like this means the initial editorial statement wasn't enough. In mentioning his conversations with the Post editors, I imagine him storming into the editorial office, holding up a copy of the Post.

Murdoch: "What's this?"

Editor: "Um, well ..."

Murdoch: "Where did you learn to do this?"

Editor: "Rupe, look-"

Murdoch: "Answer me! Who taught you how to make this kind of non-apology?"

Editor: "You, alright? I learned it from watching you!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:28 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dear Rupert Murdoch,

Last week, I made a mistake. I clicked on a link to something from The New York Post. I want to personally apologize to you, and the world at large, for reading something from your publication. I have spoken to many people over the last week about what I read, and while it is clear that it was not my intention to read the Post, I am ultimately in charge of what I read and the buck stops with me. At the same time, I have had conversations with intelligent individuals about the situation and I can assure you - without a doubt - that you are one of the most evil motherfuckers in this country and that your influence on our political and journalistic landscape has been one of unmitigated destruction and total megalomania. You make Charles Foster Kane look like a humble newsie, and William Randolph Hearst look like a perfectly reasonable publisher of quality journalism. Your corruption and fear mongering know no limits, and whatever backlash from this cartoon has inspired you to finally scribble this milque-toast backhanded apology is merely the harvest of seeds you've sown for yourself over your long and legendarily ill gotten career. The true tragedy of all of this is that you will walk away from it virtually unscathed, having suffered almost no monetary loss or measurable damage to your already blackened reputation. You are a pollutant, and it is the sincerest wish of all clear-thinking and well informed americans that - like a pollutant - you will be wholly eradicated from our environment so that you can never again spoil the American landscape with your lies, distortions and singularly menacing agenda. When you eventually die, unloved and alone, we will sing and dance and dream happily of you rotting in hell, you sick twisted fuck.

Sincerely,

shmegegge

P.S. - Fuck you, you son of a bitch.
posted by shmegegge at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


His mum is nice though.
posted by tellurian at 1:46 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Darkseid had a mum too.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


True, and they do share a common bond in that both their sons turned out to be megalomaniacs. But I don't think that Heggra was as nice as Elisabeth. She didn't do anywhere near as much charity work as I recall.
posted by tellurian at 4:09 PM on February 24, 2009


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