You may have seen or, in my case, heard on NPR, about the NY Post cartoon linked above. Go take a look at it before reading my thoughts.
Some context is needed before rendering a judgement. You might not be aware of this story about a chimp shot and killed in Connecticut by police.
So, clearly the cartoon is referencing that, as well as more contemporary politics.
Does the cartoon have racist overtones? I think in my opinion that the NY Post gleefully decided to use the horrible story of the chimp and tie it in with the Stimulus package without realizing the problem of doing so. To whit, apes, gorillas and chimps have classically been used for centuries to reference people of color. Its entirely possible, and its sad for me to say this, that it simply never occurred to the Post what they were seemingly say to a segment of the population.
So, its unintentional racist. That doesn’t excuse it and make it right.
On the other hand, readers of this space should know if they don’t already that I am a strong advocate of free speech. I ingrained in myself early the idea that taking away the right of having people say what they want, even if it is offensive, is a step in the direction of more dangerous censorship.
I am willing to defend the NY Post’s ability to publish this cartoon…just as I defend *my* right to call them on their racism, unintentional or otherwise. I don’t want to live in a world where that NY Post cartoon gets *censored*–because that is the proverbial slippery slope that ends in tyranny.
“Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.” -Pravin Lal (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri)