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Hawaii official demands censoring cartoon

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chair Haunani Apoliona is taking issue with a recent cartoon published in The Hawaii Reporter poking fun at their Kau Inoa campaign to find Hawaiians willing to participate in a tribal government. The cartoon, which can be seen here, pokes fun at the campaign calling it “Cow Inoa.” Apoliona calls it a “racial slur” and small minded.

This cartoon is merely a racist piece of propaganda. OHA and all those raised in Hawaii donâ??t find it funny at all. The cartoon should be pulled and the secret author publicly identified.

You can read other reactions, both pro and con, on the Hawaii Reporter’s web site.

Community Comments

#1 Greg
January/30/2008
@ 7:45 am

Yes, let’s ban all cartoons that anybody finds offensive. Better yet, why don’t we let the government screen all the cartoons (or all news reports, while we’re at it) before they’re published. Y’know, ’cause G-d forbid somebody might get offended.

#2 Rick Ellis
January/30/2008
@ 7:54 am

I find your sarcastic remarks offensive.
Boo hoo.

#3 Dawn Douglass
January/30/2008
@ 10:38 am

“The cartoon should be pulled and the secret author publicly identified.”

I don’t think anonymity is ever a good idea, unless a cartoonist is living in a bloody dictatorship and his or her life is on the line.

Otherwise, if an artist isn’t willing to stand up and be identified, why should the publishing platform stick their own neck out?

And no, Rick, Cheney doesn’t count as a bloody dictator. For Alan’s sake, let’s not go there. :)

#4 Clay Jones
January/30/2008
@ 10:44 am

A few problems with this “cartoon”. First, I don’t see it as a cartoon. I don’t know what you’d call it, but it’s not cartoon like.
Second, the author isn’t identified. Most publications won’t publish a letter written by an anonymous author, but this one will publish something in house anonymously?
Third, it is racist. They equated native Hawaiians with cows.

#5 Chris Hardiman
January/30/2008
@ 11:25 am

I can see both sides of this issue.

On the one hand, I think that the controversy is a little overblown and that the cartoon (although it’s not exactly a cartoon, as Clay wrote) is merely a clever satire, an analogy if you will. We’ve seen this before in strips like “Bloom County” where the characters are put through a storyline and into situations that are basically analogies for a big news story. I think that the cartoonist was simply trying to make a joke about the formation of the Native Hawaiian tribal government by creating a cartoon in which cows are trying to do a similar thing to get grazing rights.

On the other hand, I think that the chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has a strong case too. I realize that political correctness is an epidemic that is leading to too much censorship, but in this case the complaints are valid. Equating an ethnic group with cows is a bit much. The anonymity thing is dicey too. The editors or the cartoonist must have realized that there would be complaints.

#6 J Read
January/30/2008
@ 11:35 am

Like Clay, I’m curious how this can be called a cartoon. There’s not a single drawn line that I can see – maybe that doesn’t matter, I don’t know. Ann Telnaes (who draws great ‘toons) recently produced an editorial “cartoon” that was basically just a doctored photograph; it was funny, yes, but not what I think of as a cartoon. I’d be curiuos to hear from editorial cartoonists willing to post their opinions on what defines their work; possibly to be a cartoon it doesn’t have to begin as a drawing?

#7 J Read
January/30/2008
@ 11:37 am

Actually, I’d be curious to hear the opinions of any cartoonists, not just editorial ones, since I’ve seen non-political “cartoons” that were doctored photos, too.

#8 J Read
January/30/2008
@ 11:40 am

And I should make it clear I’m not railing against these photo ‘toons, if they’re funny, I just don’t think of them as cartoons. Should I re-think my idea of what a cartoon is?

#9 Tony Carrillo
January/30/2008
@ 11:42 am

The ‘cartoon’ does not limit the cow metaphor to the native Hawaiians. It also talks about imported and newcomer cows. That’s everyone else. Clearly, the only reason they chose to use the cow is because it sounds like ‘Kau’.
Unless there is some history of using the cow as a racial slur against native Hawaiians, I don’t see how this is racist.

#10 Clay Jones
January/30/2008
@ 12:09 pm

Defining what is a cartoon is like defining what is art. We’re all going to have different guidelines and criteria for that. It used to be thought that the great thing about cartoons were that they were writing with drawings. You had to be good at two skills to do this and that’s what was appreciated. Taking some text and putting a picture of a cow with it might be creative, but is not a cartoon to my eyes.

Tony, a lot of people are going to disagree with this. Maybe my opinion comes from knowing Hawaii and having lived there. I hate to yell about political correctness and I’m not eager to jump on that bandwagon. I don’t think the person(s) who created this is racist, but at the very least pretty ignorant. The focus of this is on native Hawaiians. While it does compare all humans to bovine, the focus intentionally targets the Native Hawaiians.
Despite this, I don’t think it’s the job for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to tackle.

#11 Rich Diesslin
January/30/2008
@ 2:43 pm

IMO – Not a “cartoon,” it’s a written satire piece like National Lampoon might do and the picture (while a hoot) doesn’t matter if it’s there or not; not racial slur due to cows (all are cows) but definitely a hit-piece on some group’s point-of-view (so what, it’s an editorial); not PC, but a funny analogy making many seemingly valid points (that’s probably why it’s annoying to those who disagree). I am also surprised they printed it with no name on it. Best rebuttal might be to take the same analogy and see if they could turn it around or come up with an equally witty counter-analogy. Whining just seems like the whiner is the small-minded person. People and cows need to lighten up.

#12 Garey Mckee
January/30/2008
@ 5:50 pm

Not to stray too far off topic, but I’ve never understood why a cartoonist would want to publish a cartoon anonymously. I work hard at what I do and I put alot of blood sweat and tears into writing and drawing, so why would I not want to be acknowledged for it? And that is for the good AND the bad.

If an author feels he or she needs to publish a cartoon anonymously due to it’s content or message, then perhaps that cartoonist isn’t ready to stand behind their work, in which case they aren’t ready to be published in the first place.

The only time I could see this as being appropriate is perhaps publishing a cartoon under an assumed monicker to maybe move away from previous work you’ve published and allow yourself to move in a different direction from your past work.

#13 Eric Burke
January/31/2008
@ 7:45 am

It just goes to show that there’s really nothing to do on those beautiful islands…

…this is what’s considered “news” under the Hawaiian sun?

Slow news day indeed…

#14 Dave Stephens
January/31/2008
@ 2:55 pm

Racist? Not in the slightest. If EVERYONE is a cow, either ‘newcomer’ or ‘native’, then EVERYONE is treated the same, which, of course, is the exact OPPOSITE of racism.

The cartoon does point out that giving special rights to natives and denying those same rights to newcomers IS racism. Which is probably what really rankles native Hawaiians who support this foolish ‘reparations’ idea.

A fantastic cartoon, even if it isn’t hand-drawn or painted…

#15 JeffM
February/3/2008
@ 8:16 pm

I am not Hawaiian, but I grew up on Maui and this whole topic (Hawaiian sovereignty) is very, very touchy indeed. It simply is a bale of dried hay waiting for a match. The sovereignty movement is big news. It’s a people fighting for their land, and their Kingdom back. Unless you have lived there, and were fully immersed in the culture (it is a WONDERFUL culture and the Hawaiians are a WONDERFUL people), you really can’t comment on it.

That being said, not all Hawaiians want to secede from the union and install a monarch. The Hawaiians are as red-blooded American as we are and quite happy being part of the US.

The piece (it’s not a cartoon to me) is pretty insensitive and insulting to the Hawaiian people who have had their land stolen from them.

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