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Texas Guv demands apology for Ohman cartoon

Texas Governor Rick Perry has demanded an apology from the Sacramento Bee after it ran a cartoon by their cartoonist Jack Ohman depicting the Texas governor boasting of booming business followed by a depiction of an explosion. Last week, a fertilizer plant explosion killed 14 people in the Lone Star State.

In a letter to the editor, Perry wrote:

It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon. While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won't stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.

Additionally, publishing this on the very day our state and nation paused to honor and mourn those who died only compounds the pain and suffering of the many Texans who lost family and friends in this disaster. The Bee owes the community of West, Texas an immediate apology for your detestable attempt at satire.

Jack defended the cartoon on his blog

When I have to come up with these ideas, I can assure you that I am not really deliberately trying to be tasteless. I am not. What I am trying to do is make readers think about an issue in a striking way. I seem to have succeeded in this cartoon, one way or the other.

The question is whether it is tasteless or not.

My answer, respectfully, is that it isn't.

Having said that, what normal person doesn't mourn those poor people fighting the fire and living by the plant? I certainly do. What makes me angry, and, yes, I am driven by anger, is that it could have been prevented. I guess I could have done a toned-down version of the cartoon; I am not sure what that would have been, but I think many readers' objections just stemmed from the fact that I used the explosion as a metaphor, period. The wound is fresh, the hurt still stings.

 

Community Comments

#1 Donald Rex Jr.
April/27/2013
@ 3:53 am

That cartoon is dead on.

We here in Texas seem to elect governors for their comical incompetance. Traditionally they seemed to understand this and were satisfied to remain a figurehead with small involvment in crafting policy or legislation.

The West industrial explosion can be dumped at the door of Rick Perry’s ‘Rainy Day Fund’ and his dishonest political capers.

#2 Peter Kurilecz
April/27/2013
@ 4:25 pm

speak for yourself Mr. Rex unless you are saying that Texans elected Ann Richards for her comical incompetance (sic). if so then i have to agree with you. Remember Ann was the last Democrat elected governor of Texas

#3 Donald Rex Jr.
April/27/2013
@ 4:40 pm

I clearly speak only for myself.

I Respect and enjoyed Ann Richards, Chortled at Clemments, hooted at Bush and they were clearly completely different at their aims and style as classic ‘Texas weak governors.’

But Republican Rick Perry’s theiving, manipulating and gerrymandering that has culimnated in Perry’s “War on Abortion” to hold together his ‘base’ supporters, a fewer than 10% lead over Dems in Texas.

As we say here in South Texas: That turd is spinning fast around the bowl.

#4 Dave Stephens
April/27/2013
@ 10:47 pm

So, Donald Rex Jr., I have a question for you: is the cartoon STILL in good taste if the word ‘Texas’ was replaced with the words, ‘the USA’ and in the second panel the explosion had the twin towers and a couple of planes? And what if that oh-so-funny cartoon ran on the day after 911?

This cartoon belittles the deaths. I don’t care what politician is belittled, that’s just normal behavior. But the level of insensitivity this cartoon shows is beyond the pale. Which means Ted Rall is probably taking notes, I suppose…

#5 Rick Hudson
April/28/2013
@ 8:21 pm

It was a cheap and lazy cartoon. Ohman is peddling his sophomoric politcal opinion by dipping his pen in the blood of the dead. Just because you might dislike Perry, which isn’t that hard to do, it doesn’t justify this kind of shameless commentary. Ohman should apologize to the people of West.

#6 Donald Rex Jr.
April/29/2013
@ 2:31 pm

I think someone ‘needs to’ look hard at what this cartoon in question depicts.

I suggest any derived suggestion of even the existance of, let alone disrespect for first offenders, is only to be found in the guilt felt after the fact by supporters of the arrogant greed the cartoon abhores. It is sad that detachment from reality is essential to participte in ‘our’ political system.

A truely GREAT cartoon Mr. Ohman! Perhaps the best of the year.

#7 Gerry Mooney
April/29/2013
@ 3:52 pm

Speaking as someone who could care less about Texas, and who thinks Rick Perry is an embarrassment, I do think this cartoon is in poor taste, unless there is some connection, such as the “Rainy Day Fund” mentioned, that connects this tragedy somehow with Perry’s policies. But this seems like a stretch for the Sacramento Bee to be commenting on, unless there’s some connection of national importance that I’m not getting.

Also worth noting that it was not a fertilizer plant, but a storage facility, located right smack next to a neighborhood, something rational zoning laws might have remedied.

#8 John Cole
April/29/2013
@ 3:56 pm

Perry started a feud with CA and its governor a little while back, inviting Golden State businesses to transfer operations to low-reg and low-tax TX. That probably figures in this somehow.

#9 Gerry Mooney
April/29/2013
@ 3:58 pm

Oh, that’s some clarification. thanks John.

#10 Donald Rex Jr.
April/29/2013
@ 9:03 pm

Right after the explosion Perry’s creatures began blaming passing freight trains with dangerous chemicals as the likely ’cause’ of the blast. I suppose they realized though that this is yet another regulation issue that lays at the Gov’s door. ouch.

#11 Dave Stephens
May/1/2013
@ 7:56 pm

Many governors were lax in their oversight of safety at the West fertilizer plant looOOoong before Rick Perry. But, yeah, Perry was in charge when it blew up. Therefore, his policies were responsible. Whew, glad that’s settled! Such a tricky cartoon…

#12 Frank Hansen
May/3/2013
@ 3:08 pm

The cartoon is definitely jarring but it does make you think and sometimes that is the point of political cartoons. They are all not meant to be funny in the traditional sense. Sometimes they are meant to make the viewer take a closer look at the issue.

#13 Rick Hudson
May/10/2013
@ 8:03 am

Jerry Brown has begun to release prisoners from jails into the general population due to overcrowding. They were supposed to be non-violent criminals. Well, they’ve been murdering innocent people in California. Jerry Brown has blood on his hands, but of course the liberal cartoonists choose to ignore this horror. Double standard anyone?

#14 Donald Rex Jr.
June/8/2013
@ 11:49 am

I reckon Jack Ohman’s above cartoon has deeply affected Rick Perry’s behavior in the time after the flap. In the past weeks the Gov allowed himself to be photographed being chummy with President Obama, he signed a request for Federal Fema flood relief funds without his usual crap, and this morning there is a photo of Perry on his knees putting a cute service dogs paw on a bill allowing such animals into any busness in Texas.

Real change or cynical poser? Time will tell I guess.

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