by John C Abell
It's tough enough watching your language to avoid gaffes that can be seized upon as evidence of bias or worse.
But what about our colleagues whose jobs it is to exaggerate? What are editorial cartoonists doing these days with two presidential candidates who aren't middle-aged white guys?
Is it a fine line not to appear sexist or racist when what you do is literally distort how your subjects look -- or is is all in a day's work?
Pam Platt, the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal Public editor wondered about this after "a cautious Courier-Journal editor ... decided not to run a Pat Oliphant editorial cartoon he felt was racially insensitive to Obama ..." (for the record, Platt says, she didn't think it t flattered Clinton either).
Editorial cartoons are designed to make sharp, immediate points, and they depend on caricature and exaggeration to make those points in weighing in on the news of the day. And make no mistake: The Democratic race is not only among the top stories of the day, it's a story for the ages as the two front-runners vault over old barriers of gender and race in their history-making quests for the White House. That pitched, precedent-setting battle and a couple of recent conversations with concerned readers, who didn't care for some political cartoons about the Clintons that appeared on the Forum pages, and a cautious Courier-Journal editor, who decided not to run a Pat Oliphant editorial cartoon he felt was racially insensitive to Obama, led me to the topic of this week's column.
Platt contacted nine editorial cartoonists (including her paper's) to find out if they were approaching their work any differently these days. Among the questions:
- Do you approach the subject differently because Barack Obama is black and Hillary Clinton is a woman?
- Is doing one candidate dicier than the other?
- Is anything out of bounds?