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Mike Lester arrested after “domestic altercation”

Mike Lester, editorial cartoonist for the Rome News-Tribune, was charged last night with “simple assault in violation of the Family Violence Act and interference with a 911 call” according to a news report on Rome News Wire. A news story in the Rome News-Tribune confirms the arrest.

From the Rome News Wire:

Regan Lester [Mike’s wife] told police officers that Michael Lester returned home intoxicated and began to cause problems. Michael Lester admitted he had been drinking on Broad Street and when he returned home he thought his wife was dressed to go out, which made him angry because she had been going out a lot lately. Regan Lester told police she had no intention of leaving the home.

A struggle between the two individuals followed, during which Michael Lester grabbed his wife and pushed her into a wall, causing a window in the front door to be broken. Regan Lesterâ??s elbow was cut by the glass in the window.

She told police she was frightened of her husband and tried to call 911 on her cell phone, but Michael Lester took the phone and threw it out the door. Regan Lester was later able to call 911 from her home phone.

Community Comments

#1 henry clausner
August/21/2009
@ 7:08 pm

we all have problems…..believe me…nobody is immune.I don’t pass judgement on anyone.

#2 Jim Thomas
August/21/2009
@ 7:45 pm

This seems like the type of post that belongs in the category of “maybe should have minded our own business”. Sharing this in such a public forum and then tweeting about it leaves me feeling quite unsettled with this site’s intentions.

#3 Mike Peterson
August/21/2009
@ 7:50 pm

It is news of someone in the industry. Not every piece of news that runs here draws comments or needs to. But part of being in the business is that sometimes you end up covering your own.

#4 Jim Thomas
August/21/2009
@ 8:01 pm

It is about someone in the industry, but not about their dealings within the industry. Just seems disrespectful to publicize such an obviously embarrassing and regretful (and extremely personal and private) act to a large sum of a person’s peers and colleagues.

Just doesn’t sit well with me to do that to one of your own.

#5 Randal Milholland
August/21/2009
@ 8:12 pm

When someone makes a career targeting others for their political/moral failings you don’t get to shield them behind, “But this time it’s different because it’s personal” just because they’re one of your own.

It sucks, I admit, and while I’ve yet to agree with a single thing that’s come out of Mike Lester, I’d hope this is all a big misunderstanding and that he gets his day in court. But sorry, Mike has to take as good as you damn well know he’d give if this was happening to one of his targets.

#6 Alan Gardner
August/21/2009
@ 8:17 pm

Jim, I understand the concern and posting this wasn’t an off-the-cuff decision. The Daily Cartoonist is a news site covering professional cartoonists and unfortunately the news isn’t always rosy.

#7 Donna Barstow
August/22/2009
@ 1:58 am

I agree with Jim that this doesn’t deserve to be one of Alan’s usual pertinent items. It’s not cartoon news, it’s personal news.

Not that it’s not important – this is a terrible sexist crime. And how small is this town, anyway? :
Michael Lester admitted he had been drinking on Broad Street and when he returned home he thought his wife was dressed to go out, which made him angry because she had been going out a lot lately. Regan Lester told police she had no intention of leaving the home.

Gosh, I’m glad I don’t have to clock in on how often I “get dressed”, and “go out,” aren’t you?

#8 Mike Peterson
August/22/2009
@ 4:56 am

I’ve seen journalists get their personal issues in the paper on the principle that, if we cover the mayor’s foibles, we can’t ignore our own. Fair is fair.

But as I said in my previous comment, not every piece of news here draws comments or needs to. I wasn’t there, I don’t know Mike personally, I have nothing of interest to say except that I hope it all works out. I think comments beyond that are inappropriate.

#9 Wiley Miller
August/22/2009
@ 7:13 am

I really hate to see this, literally and figuratively.

There is a fine line between what is news and what is gossip. What would have possibly swung this over the line to news is if Mike had been one of those moral crusaders who go on and on about their moral superiority. We usually get that from the right wing with “christian fundamentalists”. Mike, although a staunch right winger, was NOT one of those, so this falls into gossip.

I can see no real reason why this personal matter should have been posted in such a public manner. It has absolutely no bearing on any of us here in any manner. It’s just gossip, not news, and is the worst aspect of the internet. We simply didn’t need to know about this, as IT’S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

#10 Kelly McNutt
August/22/2009
@ 7:53 am

I hope this incident doesn’t keep Mike from coming back here eventually. Best to him and Mrs. Lester.

#11 Wiley Miller
August/22/2009
@ 10:01 am

“I hope this incident doesnâ??t keep Mike from coming back here eventually.”

If you such a personal matter had been posted here about you, would you come back here? I sure wouldn’t.

#12 Kelly McNutt
August/22/2009
@ 10:09 am

“If you such a personal matter had been posted here about you, would you come back here? I sure wouldnâ??t.”

No, no… I agree, it’d be tough. It’d be a shame, though, too.

#13 Steve Greenberg
August/22/2009
@ 11:20 am

This incident is very unfortunate but I feel Alan is correct in posting it; it is news about a cartoonist, which is a function of this blog, even if sometimes is involves improper behavior that isn’t directly connected to the artwork (and sometimes such things do impact the career or the output).

This is sad because I know Mike is crazy about Regan, as he expressed at one of the Reubens gatherings I attended.

#14 Ted Rall
August/22/2009
@ 11:25 am

I consider Mike a friend, and I hope and his wife work out their issues privately.

I’m sure Mike wouldn’t argue that news is news and that news needs to be covered, no matter what. But it already has been–in his local newspaper.

I don’t see how a cartoonist’s personal life falls within the mission of a website/blog that purports to deliver “industry news for the professional cartoonist.” How will learning this serve any business or professional purpose, other than feeding gossip and creating embarrassment?

This is tacky. It makes me feel dirty. And that takes a lot.

#15 mike peters
August/22/2009
@ 11:42 am

Hey , you should’ve seen all the stupid things I’ve gotten myself in to and luckily it never made print. Give the kid a break.

#16 Charles Brubaker
August/22/2009
@ 11:43 am

I can see why Alan posted it. The news is about a cartoonist, was made public in a form of news media (the local paper in this case), and Mike isn’t just some no-name cartoonist, considering that he’s widely recognized and nationally syndicated.

At the very least it should have been posted in the form of one-line “news brief” and nothing more.

#17 Wiley Miller
August/22/2009
@ 12:18 pm

Again, it’s a fine line. It’s a news story for the local paper he works for, but posting it here serves no other purpose than gossip. So what if he’s a well known cartoonist? This was simply none of OUR business.

#18 Stacy Curtis
August/22/2009
@ 1:12 pm

I see nothing wrong with posting the story of Mike Lester’s arrest on TDC.

Mike is an editorial cartoonist who has targeted the domestic issues of others, such as Governor Sanford, in his editorial cartoons. Turn about is fair play. Mike is just as much a public figure (especially in Georgia) as anyone else. He does not get a free pass.

Not one single person posted an objection here to The Daily Cartoonist report of the arrest of Bruce Tinsley for a DUI in December of 2006.

Editor & Publisher reported the 1997 arrest of Bill Schorr, who was convicted of “a misdemeanor assault of an officer” during a domestic dispute with his wife. Industry sources reporting the arrest of a member of that industry is not unfounded.

All that said, I have the utmost respect for Mike Lester, both professionally and personally. I have confidence that he will deal with this situation, learn from it and put it behind him. And I hope he does so with minimal damage to his family and career.

This is not a time to ignore what has happened, but it is also not a time to cast stones at a fallen comrade.

Mike, like all of us, deserves a second chance.

#19 Ted Rall
August/22/2009
@ 2:18 pm

Lester was arrested for a domestic dispute that spun out of control. Mssrs. Tinsley and Schorr were charged with offenses that endangered the general public, which makes it the general public’s business.

I would take issue with Stacy’s portrayal of Mike Lester as a moralist. While he is decidedly conservative, his work does not obsess over family values. I do not see how a charge of political hypocrisy sticks here.

No one is suggesting that Lester’s arrest isn’t newsworthy. But calling a local police blotter item to the attention of a targeted audience of Mike’s colleagues here at TDC is cringe-inducing.

#20 Garey Mckee
August/22/2009
@ 2:49 pm

I have to agree with the majority thus far on this topic. I don’t believe this is a topic suitable for TDC. I don’t know Mike Lester personally, but if there are problems at home they should not be aired here. I do hope that this doesn’t keep him from coming back here and participating. I don’t think anyone here is being judgemental and I think we can all agree that everyone has problems and there’s no shame in that.

#21 Stacy Curtis
August/22/2009
@ 3:08 pm

I don’t think Bill Schorr put the general public at risk.
He allegedly waved an unloaded gun at a police officer who had a loaded gun. No one was in danger, other than Bill Schorr.

I think if you’re an editorial cartoonist, you somewhat have to have the moralist built into you. You’re paid to hold hypocrits’ feet to the fire. I think Mike Lester’s cartoons about Governor Sanford, Bill Clinton’s women-chasing ways, abortion and God throwing lightning bolts at Obama prove he is a moralist.

#22 Mark_Tatulli
August/22/2009
@ 3:15 pm

Yeah, I have to agree with Ted and Wiley here. I mean, this is Alan’s blog and he certainly can do what he wants with it, but seems to me this is a story he could have sat on, especially in view of the fact that Mike is a frequent poster here. I just don’t know what the rush was to break this story to Mike’s comtemporaries. Reporting is one thing, but on a cartoonist’s blog like this, that is not really held to a higher news standard, perhaps a bit of decorum could’ve been observed.

#23 John Read
August/22/2009
@ 3:16 pm

The posting of this story on the TDC has, at the very least, generated interesting comments about what is and isn’t “industry news,” and, thankfully, very few about the incident itself (which certainly IS private) and Mike Lester. If nothing else, much can be gleaned about the character of those posting comments.

#24 Wiley Miller
August/22/2009
@ 3:30 pm

The point is, Stacy, none of us were there and don’t know what really happened, nor has he been convicted of anything, so conclusions about moral hypocrisy is still a leap.

#25 Stacy Curtis
August/22/2009
@ 3:31 pm

I thought Alan did sit on the story.
He posted it late on Friday after most people had gone home and left their computers untouched until Monday morning.

#26 Shane Davis
August/22/2009
@ 3:46 pm

@ Stacy,
This is one of the things I hate the most when something like this happens – folks start lining up taking sides and twisting it into a political issue. Frankly, it’s not about anyone’s political views.

It’s personal matter for Mr. Lester’s family. I think you do a grave diservice to your credibilty when you start in with labelling folks as ‘moralists’ and state they deserve what happened to them. It doesn’t matter what you think of his politics or editorial work – he is human being struggling with a deeply personal and humbling mistake.

Frankly, I’m willing to be you’ve done some stupid things in your life you wouldn’t want put in the news, and you sure wouldn’t want someone who disagrees with you telling you ‘you deserved gettting publicly grilled’ just because of your politics. So why do it to someone else? It makes the accuser look very small and petty.

There is a difference between one’s work and one’s personal life. If he had done something on the job or as a representative of his paper, that’d be one thing. But as I understand it, he didn’t.

Scream and rant about his work, but leave his private life be. I’m certain that’s what you’d want done to you in a similiar circumstance.

I speak from personal experience because last year I ripped into Ben Sargent pretty good when he retired over and incident involving him getting arrested in Austin. I over reacted and said some things here I shouldn’t have and made myself look like an ass.

You might want to rein it in before the same happens to you.

#27 John Read
August/22/2009
@ 4:02 pm

Um, Shane…I think it’s too late.

#28 Stephanie McMillan
August/22/2009
@ 4:14 pm

There is a personal aspect to this that makes it seem gossipy, and for that reason I don’t like seeing it here. People have a right not to have their privacy violated. I would very much hate it if it were my bad behavior being discussed. But on the other hand, attacking a woman to control her movements is a misogynist crime, whether or not the people involved are married. If a cartoonist was accused of a racist attack instead, it wouldn’t be considered a personal matter and it would very much affect how people viewed that person’s work.

#29 Shane Davis
August/22/2009
@ 4:14 pm

@ Stacy again,
“I donâ??t think Bill Schorr put the general public at risk.
He allegedly waved an unloaded gun at a police officer who had a loaded gun. No one was in danger, other than Bill Schorr.”

I suppose that statement is supposed to justify Mr. Lester being publically humiliated for alleged domestic violence while simultaneously excusing Mr. Schorr for having committed essentially a victimless crime.

That is about the most boneheaded thing I have ever heard another adult say.

Pointing a gun AT ANYONE is felony aggravated assault. The law doesn’t distinguish whether it is loaded or not. Simply pointing alone (not even firing it) is a felony because it has the immediate capacity to cause serious bodily injury or death.

Your trying to morally excuse felony assault on the police while complaining about simple assault is mind boggling.

What Mr. Schorr did is a felony and profoundly stupid. Officers are trained to shoot when anyone for any reason points a firearms at them. It is called a furtive movement shooting and many folks have died performing this extremely ignorant action.

Excusing it as ‘he was only endanging himself’ is arrogant and ignorant. Why he didn’t go down in a rain of bullets I don’t know – maybe the responding officers knew him personally or they didn’t see the gun – no cop in his right mind would EVER allow a weapon to be pointed at him or her.

And ‘no harm done’? No officer EVER wants to have to take a human life. Especially if he has to do it in the present of a another family member. If you don’t think having to pump lead into another human being in front of his family doesn’t hurt the family AND the responding officer, then you truly don’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about. Would you want to live with that, either as an officer or a family member? Neither would I.

Why not stick to just ranting about the cartooning on editorial pages and stay away from commenting about other peoples personal mistakes or crimes?

Because frankly, your blatant sanctimonious political bias colors your opinions to such a degree that it leaves me rather queasy.

#30 Shane Davis
August/22/2009
@ 4:17 pm

@ John,
“Um, Shaneâ?¦I think itâ??s too late.”

Probably, but I joined you as soon as I could…

#31 Tom Wood
August/22/2009
@ 4:25 pm

From the ‘what a coincidence’ files…

I’m a past member of the Austin Screenwriters Group. A while back screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, and actors Steve Buscemi and Vince Vaughn were arrested for being involved in a bar brawl. At the time we aspiring screenwriters all thought, cool, kick ass Scott!

The movie they were working on? Domestic Disturbance

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=106707&page=1

I’d vote for burying the Lester story in a newsline item, at most. But as time passes, maybe it will add to the mythology of Mike. (Not that I’d wish that experience on myself or anyone else.)

#32 Shane Davis
August/22/2009
@ 4:40 pm

I remember that, it was back in 1998. I think I used to know one of the officers that was there that night.

Ah, old Austin is gone. Around ’98 was about the time it started going ‘California’…

#33 Wiley Miller
August/22/2009
@ 5:04 pm

@Stephanie- you are now concluding and proclaiming on a public board that he is guilty of a “misogynist crime”. Again, none of us know what really happened. This is precisely why the item should not have been posted as the speculation does nothing but smear Mike’s reputation. You have tried and convicted him without knowing the facts. Such is the nature of gossip.

#34 Stephanie McMillan
August/22/2009
@ 5:50 pm

@ Wiley,
I was careful to word my comment to not indicate that I drew a conclusion about his guilt. I compared this incident to being “accused” of another kind of crime, not to having “committed” another kind of crime. Perhaps I wasn’t explicit enough.

#35 Alan Gardner
August/23/2009
@ 3:46 am

I appreciate the feedback on both sides of the debate as to the merits of this story and the civil manner in which it was discussed.

I think the first thing we need to settle is that this is a news blog as opposed to a water-carrying, cheerleading, only report the good stuff blog. It exists to provide relevant news about the industry and the people inside it. Most of the time, it’s all good and warm fuzzy stuff, but unfortunately sometimes that involves reporting on some of the less stellar moments in the lives of cartoonists. It’s sad, and there is no joy in reporting it – more so when the person in question is an active participant on the blog. Be assured, I don’t post rumors or gossip. If the topic is speculative, I identify it as so. Every post I run contains a link to the source where I got my information so you can determine the credibility of the source. If it doesn’t have a link, then be assured I have an email or notes taken from a phone conversation with my source. In this case I made sure I had two independent, credible sources – one of which was Mike’s employer.

I reported on the Tinsley DUI, and had the blog been in operation during other cartoonists’ brushes with the law they would have been reported too. Those worried about the cartoonist’s reputation should be directing the concern to the cartoonist in question.

With regard to Mike, I hold no ill feelings toward him and will understand if he doesn’t participate on the blog anymore. It should be noted that while the thread has diverged on the appropriateness of the story, there is a genuine hope (including mine) that all is resolved well for the Lesters. He is a member of this community and the door is still wide open for his return should he decide to do so.

If you have further questions about my decision to post this story, feel free to email me.

#36 Alan Gardner
August/23/2009
@ 4:00 am

Just so no one is surprised, I will probably close the comments before the Monday increase in traffic. Mike Peterson raises the question of the appropriateness of keeping the comments open for stories like this. I’m open to turning off comments in these cases. Any final thoughts on comments before I close the thread?

#37 Mike Beckom
August/23/2009
@ 6:14 am

should he decide to post, I ask that you only allow MIKE LESTER to continue any thoughts in this thread. Nobody else really ‘has a dog in this fight’. Apologies to PETA, dog-lovers and Mike Vick for that lil thought.(said tongue planted firmly in cheek)

#38 John Read
August/23/2009
@ 6:36 am

When I read “Iâ??m open to turning off comments” for “stories like this,” the first thing that popped into my head was, why post any particular story if you think it is “appropriate” to deny commentary about that story?

I suppose it is up to you, Alan, to decide what purpose you want TDC to serve.

#39 Ted Rall
August/23/2009
@ 7:26 am

It’s your call, Alan, about the comments. But most moderators keep comments sections open unless and until they degenerate into pointless and/or obnoxious and/or repetitious name-calling. That hasn’t happened here. Why not let the working cartoonists who only go online on weekdays get their thoughts in?

#40 Ted Rall
August/23/2009
@ 7:27 am

I don’t think this item should be here at all. But now that it is, the cat’s out of the bag. You’d might as well let the comments run their course.

#41 Wiley Miller
August/23/2009
@ 7:39 am

I think the comments have run their course. Since the item should have never been posted in the first place, that doesn’t mean it has to stay, does it?

#42 Randy Bish
August/23/2009
@ 10:39 am

Speaking as someone who has suddenly had their own life thrown into the media spotlight (not of my own choosing), I would offer the following advice….
Anytime something like this happens, the media as well as the internet grab onto it. Personally, I find that much too often the media latches on to the personal upheaval in people’s lives and serves it up on a dish solely for the entertainment of the public.
If that was not true, Jerry Springer would be a car salesman today.

Before any story is thrust into the spotlight, the people who make the story public should consider the ramifications of their actions… especially in any case where children are involved.
Think of what the children of Octo-Mom and Kate and John will have to endure in the future…all because their parents were put into the spotlight.

Before any of us rush to judgement and defend or condemn any man in a public forum, we should stop to think of the children and the family members of the people involved.

After all, they may be the next people to read or see the story.

My thoughts are with Mike Lester, his wife and family as they are dragged through the spotlight.

#43 Wiley Miller
August/23/2009
@ 11:22 am

That would be the perfect post to end this thread, Alan.

#44 Nick Anderson
August/23/2009
@ 4:47 pm

Tough call on whether or not to publish…I’ll just say that I hope everything works out for the Lesters.

#45 Shane Davis
August/23/2009
@ 5:40 pm

What else can said that hasn’t already? Anything further would be up to Mr. Lester, if he so chooses.

I’d like to see it end here.

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