Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Comic Strips and Controversy
Running in step with the anti-Ted Rall camp, students at Purdue University, my father's alma mater, recently protested an editorial cartoon by Pat Oliphant, claiming that Oliphant's comic shows "blatant ignorance of minority groups." In InstaPundit, Glenn Reynolds shares that he's not overly sympathetic to the Oliphant backlash -- and that that might be because he's been desensitized by Rall.

While I don't think people's responses to the Oliphant comic have anything to do with whether they're been exposed to Rall, I'm torn here just as I'm torn when considering whether Heeb is an offensive name for a magazine. I'm not Jewish, and I'm not black. So I'm coming at this from a sympathetic but not totally empathetic perspective. I think it's less about whether Rall defenders flock to the sides of Oliphant in the name of free speech -- and more about just what it is that Oliphant's saying in the comic strip.

Is he saying that reparations to black people in terms of rights and opportunities have been paid in full? That black people are petty because they -- if there is a "they" here -- push for cash money as well as rights and opportunities? That white guilt leads people to sway too far while interacting with underserved and underpriveleged minorities? That Lincoln was a racist who used semantics to throw bones at the freed slaves instead of truly making up for their ill treatment for centuries? It seems to me that Oliphant is criticizing whites as well as blacks in this comic.


Punchline without a set up: "Pat Oliphant never forgets."

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