It seems as though my Caledonia March for Freedom cartoon has stirred up a bit of anger among some folks judging by the feedback and blog reaction it's getting. (Note some of the posted comments on my own blog in this entry.) Today's Spectator prints a letter to the editor related to the cartoon:
This is a complaint about the editorial cartoon in the front section of The Hamilton Spectator. It features Gary McHale leading the March For Freedom in Caledonia. For a newspaper to poke fun at someone's weight, creed or colour is disgraceful and tacky. The Spectator should hang its head in shame.
We live in Stoney Creek and attended the protest on Sunday in Caledonia. We saw a lot of residents from Caledonia and only three little incidents at the police barricade. Those incidents were nothing like those at the speeches when a pickup truck full of natives sped through the site yelling racial remarks at the non-natives.
We also witnessed non-natives not being allowed past the police barricade, but natives were free to walk up the street, pass the police barricades, get their coffee at Tim Hortons, and return to the Douglas Creek Estates.
My wife asked an OPP officer why this was happening. He said he didn't know.
If people can't see there is a two-tier justice system in Caledonia, they are blind.
Gary Thompson-Stoney Creek
The writer best articulates a common complaint among all the feedback I've received and read -- that 1) I was unfair to depict Gary McHale and the protesters in the way I did, and 2) that clearly, the law is being enforced by the O.P.P. on non-natives, whereas natives seem to be free to do whatever they want.
Regarding point 2, I think it's a very legitimate complaint by the protesters, and I've drawn on that sentiment in the past. Here's another concerning the O.P.P.
As for my depiction of the protesters and Gary McHale, well, yeah it was ad hominum in its nature, but frankly, that's what we cartoonists often do when we approach issues. An Editorial cartoon is designed to generate laughter from half of an audience while creating howls of scorn and outrage from the other. It's our little box of anarchy on an otherwise serious, and pontifical editorial page. Don't expect editorial cartoonists to be fair. We're there to entertain, to make cheap shots, to illustrate popular sentiment, and to make readers think. Peruse my archives and you'll find many many cartoons which you may find funny, whereas others will take great offence.
And finally, editorial cartoonists work on our own. We aren't part of any corporate agenda. We don't draw whatever the publisher or editor wants us to draw -- we get our cartoons spiked if they ever think we've crossed the boundary into bad taste or libel, but we are our own masters. On Caledonia, I comment on whatever big events are added to the chronology of this standoff, whether, as shown above, it's an angry mob of non-natives marching like the 7th U.S. Calvary being led by General Custer, or if its a goofball native father teaching his kid how to construct a roadblock. I've done several other cartoons poking the natives, who often voice the loudest complaints when a little bit of humor is made at their expense. Oh well.