Chicago Tribune Defends Censorship of Comics Page

The Public Editor for the Chicago Tribune, Don Wycliff, has written a column explaining and defending the paper’s decision to pull the comic strip Boondocks from their pages for two days. The strip, by celebrated cartoonist Aaron McGruder, inferred that the president has engaged in drug use. The justification for the censoring is that since the strip deals with political issues it must be subjected to the same standards of fairness and accuracy in reporting and since President Bush’s alleged drug use has never been definitively confirmed they felt the need to pull the strip.

Wycliff explains the offending comments in the comic, “One strip showed a character, Caesar, looking at a newspaper–some would say that was the real fiction–and relating to another character, Huey, the news that [President] Bush got recorded admitting that he smoked weed.”

To which Huey replied: “Maybe he smoked it to take the edge off the coke.

Wow. It isn’t enough to censor the strip he has to go and insult the characters too?

Wycliff ends the article with the following, “ I’m not sure how, on reflection, I feel about applying strict standards of journalistic accuracy to comic strips. It’s a subject that needs a lot more thought than I’ve ever given to the issue.

But it does have one virtue: It has allowed me to think about a comics issue other than how to keep sophomoric cartoonists from smuggling scatological humor into the newspaper.

Yeah, so comics are supposed to be dumb and dull. What a dilemma when a smart, opinionated comic comes along. Sometimes I get the feeling that newspapers are actively trying to push cartoonists onto the web where things like being smart with your writing and taking risks with your art are actually appreciated.

In related news, the comic strip Dilbert has been pulled from several papers for implying that dogs can work as consultants and cats can run HR departments.


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