Nick Gillespie takes Steve Benson to task

Nick Gillespie, editor of and, takes Arizona Republic editorial cartoonist Steve Benson to task for his cartooning of the Tucson shooting.

It’s not that we need more proof that editorial cartooning (with the exception of’s Bok, Payne, and Stantis) is the lowest of all art forms, but here you go, a week’s worth of doodling by the Arizona Republic’s Steve Benson, who is, of course, a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Nick’s political bias aside, Steve appears to be going for the sentimental angle?

112 thoughts on “Nick Gillespie takes Steve Benson to task

  1. This is just another step in the “cause and effect” dance that the left and right are doing. The cartoons seemed to reasonably reflect what was happening in AZ, the news media and politics. I don’t see anything wrong with these cartoons.

  2. Steve is a friend. He has done some amazing cartoons. But these are not his best work. The whole point, Rob, is that editorial cartoons are not supposed to “reflect what is happening.” Cartoons that reflect what is happening are called illustrations.

    Editorial cartoons should express a political opinion, to editorialize. Moreover, they should not express thoughts that are already in wide currency, such as “it is sad when little girls get shot.”

    I do wonder, however, whether Reason plans to hire some edgy cartoonists. You know, to show how it’s done?

  3. Ted – He runs (and praises) Bok, Stantis and Payne. Fair enough.

    In an earlier piece (the link is up high) he dumps on Steve Kelley based on some comments Steve made to a reporter. He then blithely admits being unfamiliar with Steve’s cartoons. May I submit that anyone who’s too lazy to google “Steve Kelley” (or is unfamiliar with a guy who’s been syndicated since the last ice age) (OK, that was an exaggeration) has little business writing anything about cartoons.

    As for Steve B’s cartoons, I think they’re fine.

  4. “I wasn?t aware that ?being an *-hole? is now considered a form of political bias.” – John Cole

    In certain circles, it is a requirement.

    Other places, “reason” is replaced with unthinking; and objectivism is a handy excuse for convenience and expediency.

    As for the “lowest of all art forms”, it is evident that Gillespie has never been to any karaoke contests.

  5. @Derf LOL

    @Ted I didn’t suggest they were great. I’ve definitely seen better. The one with the vultures (Nate Beeler) was fantastic. I said I didn’t see anything wrong with them. They do espouse an opinion. Just not very well.

  6. Well, Ted. This is your friend, SB. You’ve done some fantastic ‘toons yourself.

    Love and kisses. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  7. By the way, before folks here think that I may have gone too “sentimental,” my Palin gun-sites cartoon (drawn because she had posted an awful Facebook rant defending her anti-Giffords cross-hairs map the very day Obama was in Arizona) has got me holy hell nationwide.

    But the value of one’s contribution to the discussion, if you will, can arguably and to some degree be determined by the enemies it generates.

    Enter the Tea Party-type mob.

    I’m not complaining about the rabid reaction from the fringe to the cartoon, since it has brought them into the arena for debate over all kinds of relevant issues–gun laws, political rhetoric, mental health issues, etc.–and where it is, quite frankly, fairly easy to pick their arguments clean of any substance.

    That debate, particularly in Arizona, is raging.

    It’s ugly out there–and when Palin got ugly, I went for the jugular.

    I just hate it when folks slur me by describing my work as too nice.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  8. Gillespie has hit it on the nose. These cartoons are well-drawn liberal cliches and mush… except the Palin cartoon. It’s clever, bold and punches the reader in the eye. But these plusses are far out-weighed by the simple fact that it’s untrue. It’s a lie. A cartoon that not only doesn’t get at the truth, but promotes a venamous lie is not only a dud, it’s a cartoon that is indulging in cheap and lazy character assassination.

  9. Steve:

    You’re a bad, bad, bad, boy…

    First you do that nasty cartoon about that Nebraska football player being allowed to play in a national championship despite being charged with beating the shit out of his girlfriend, then, you go and pick on those poor, misguised patriots at Texas A&M with their bonfires and testosterone-fueled traditions, and now you have the gall to pick on law-abiding, short-dick afflicted gun guys.

    Bad Steve… bad, bad, Steve. To see your work one would think that a REAL editorial cartoonist should draw something other than “clever”, “funny”, or “clever, funny, topical” cartoons in hope of getting them in Newsweek and USA Today.

    What the hell were you thinking?!!

  10. I thought this tidbit summed it up quite well, “…imploring all of us to stop yelling at each other. But we should still keep drawing people as cyborg-like gun-ladies of course because free speech is really important, especially when it’s directed at hate-mongers who are really deep-down responsible for the actions of a insane lone gunman who had no connections whatsoever to them. ”

    Lies repeated become conventional wisdom every single friggin time… UGH!

    I am SO not a Palin fan, but I am even more so against scurrilous and baseless accusations…

  11. Liberal squish mush-mouth?

    I guess they need to rise to the level of gun-nut conservative mash-mouth.

    No, wait.

    That would be “uncivil.”

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  12. If you won’t ask, I’ll still tell–that Palin’s an absolute, divisive, irrepsonsible nut–and that, as such, she has contributed to the gun-laden, ugly, violent rhetoric that has taken political discourse in the country to abysmal lows–as well as arguably put citizen safety at risk.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    Arizona Republic

  13. @Steve

    “abysmal lows”? Dude, we’ve been rock bottom for all of my 47 years and doubtless for since before our ancient ancestors could raise a club!

    Political discourse is, by definition, LOW – demonizing the “other party” is what BOTH parties do and it is sickening, sad, shallow and foolish. And it has always been the norm though I think before the internet this hatred of the “other” was not often caught on camera though it was seen in print in smaller publications…

    When I was younger, I remember demonizing Reagan both with my words and my drawings – how I hated him! As I’ve aged, I see things very differently but especially I see the shallowness of my attitude back then. I have no time to waste ‘hating’ another political party – I hope I have better things to do than to stare wide-eyed at the carnage wrought by a nutjob and his automatic and leap to foolish conclusions like, “Sarah Palin is angry too! Oh noes!!! Lookie what she done!”

  14. A cartoonist who jumps to the conclusion that Palin, or anyone for that matter, was somehow indirectly responsible for the murder of 5 adults and a 9 year-old child – and says so in his published work – had better have more than a righteous feeling and the good ol’ liberal narrative that all conservatives are angry, frustrated, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals clinging to their guns and religion (gee, where have I heard that before?)to undergird his cartoon. Perhaps Benson drew this cartoon before it was revealed that the shooter was a psychotic nutcase, it which case he was being irresponsible. Or he drew it after this was known, in which case he was being not only grossly irresponsible, but libelous. Either way this is an excellent example of a talented cartoonist – and Benson is very talented – crossing the line that separates “fair game” from “disgraceful.

  15. Carl, I’d have a lot more sympathy for the right-whine view that hateful, violent rhetoric has no impact on the mentally unstable if the same group of tight@ss Puritans were not, at the same time, insisting that simply having a gay man in the building will turn schoolchildren into homosexuals, or that a micro-second, distant view of Janet Jackson’s breast (which you had to Tivo in order to even confirm) was worth running the entire broadcast industry through the mill because of its impact on the nation.

    I’d also be more tolerant of their verbal lynching of the local sheriff for expressing his views of what he sees in his district, if they didn’t put “support the police” stickers on their cars and get all misty over photos of the rescuers at the WTC, after which, of course, they try to deny them medical care.

    As for Obama’s horrible, liberal accusation that, in a bad economy when they feel that outside forces have taken control of their lives, blue collar folks will go back to their basic Constitutional rights and try to get some comfort from religion, well, yes, that was a terrible thing to say. It also seems like the founding principle of the Tea Party.

    Meanwhile, there is nothing disgraceful in using an editorial cartoon to criticize inconsistency, hypocrisy and plain bad manners.

  16. These ideological battles over my ‘toons (even among cartoonists) isn’t new.

    Rick West of the now-defunct “Target” magazine (ironic title, eh?) acknowledged several years ago when he was editor of that commentary mag on the editorial cartoon profession that his criticism of my work had roots in his own political perspective.

    At least he admitted it.

    Just so that we understand the multi-dimensional dynamic at play here. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  17. Mike, there you go again–politically.

    Which is OK. What are you trying to do–turn this forum into the right-wing version of the Huffington Post?

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  18. I had no idea Sarah Palin’s entire family had been gunned down in Tuscon. If only the liberal media hadn’t suppressed this story, Palin wouldn’t have had to take to the air like she has …

  19. Not at all. Unlike a few of our members, you’ve never written me privately to ask I “tone it down”. (talk about motivating) To the contrary, we’ve always had a respectfully contentious relationship. I’m not changing that here which is why I ended my post like I did.

    You just happened to make that last statement about Palin that seemed personal rather than factual and smacked of misplaced energy. But again, your call. It’s no secret I don’t like BHO but at least he’s the head dude that can raise my taxes.

    I’m just amazed that a Mother of five who writes on her hand like a middle schooler and used to govern the biggest national park in America is called a Nazi, her kids are derided and she’s blamed for everything from Tucson to the Lindburgh Baby kidnapping. Here’s a newsflash: she’s not ever going to sit in an oval office unless her contractor screws up her addition.

    But I’m on a new scent: I swear Babs Streisand is the 19th hijacker, I just know it.

    Draw what you want, Steve and so will I.

  20. @Mike Peterson. Who cares what your view of right-wingers is? What’s that got to do with the point I’m trying to make – that, yes, editorial/political cartoonists should be given wide lattitude when it comes to controversial issues, but isn’t there at least some standards of decorum beyond which no one should go? I’m arguing that Benson’s cartoon crosses that line of decorum. With absolutely no evidence to go on, he’s attacking someone for being, at least indirectly, responsible for murder. Shouldn’t there be at least SOME evidence at hand – I mean just a smidgen, for God’s sake – before we cartoonists accuse someone of complicity in murder? Are there no boundaries for cartoonists? Anything goes – even baseless character assassination?

  21. “[I]isn?t there at least some standards of decorum beyond which no one should go? I?m arguing that Benson?s cartoon crosses that line of decorum.”

    I hear this all the time from the great unwashed who differ politically/ideologically with my cartoons.

    Now I’m hearing it in cartoonist forums.

    Sigh . . .

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  22. Deep breath and read it again, Carl.

    What I’m saying is that right-wingers spend a lot of energy making assertions about cause-and-effect, including some pretty far-fetched and preposterous ones.

    In my opinion, this limits their right to hoist their petticoats and scream when someone else makes an assertion about cause-and-effect which at least has a demonstrable thread of logic.

    I also find it particularly offensive when people across the country attack an observation from someone who is on the ground and working in a relevant field in the specific place where an event has occurred. What do these East Coast rightwing media elite know about law enforcement in Arizona that the sheriff there doesn’t?

  23. “‘?State of the Union? offensive

    “I am writing concerning the ‘State of the Union’ political cartoon by Carl Moore. The cartoon in the Jan. 6 issue, which portrays Cindy Sheehan wearing a turban, is ignorant and offensive.

    “Whether one agrees or disagrees with Sheehan?s actions, her ‘anti-war shtick’ is her right as an American citizen; frankly, she has given more to this nation, in the form of her dead son, than Moore ever will.

    “This garbage perpetuates the idea now in vogue in this country that disagreement with the Iraq war makes one a traitor or worse, a terrorist. Is Sheehan supposed to be the equivalent of Osama bin Laden?

    “It is, moreover, offensive to Arab-Americans who may choose to dress this way.

    “I will refrain from spending my money on Stars and Stripes for the time being. If I want to subject myself to slanted, shock-jock right-wing propaganda, I can tune into American Forces Network Radio and listen to Rush Limbaugh for free.

    “Maj. Charles R. Bowery Jr.
    Katterbach, Germany”×130321


    Tsk, tsk, Mr. Moore. Isn’t there at least some standards of decorum beyond which no one should go? Your cartoon crosses that line of decorum.


    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  24. Oh snappitty snap snap SNAP!!

    But seriously, there ARE standards of “decorum” beyond which your paper (and others) will NOT publish – it is newspapers, not editorial cartoonists, who decide what is “fit for print” or not…

  25. @Mike,
    I’ve been in law enforcement for 21 years, so although I’m not the worlds foremost expert, I do think I know something about it.

    And I know that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is a grandstanding idiot of the highest order. I don’t care what your politics are. 6 people have been brutally murdered, including a 9 year old girl and a Federal Judge, and a Congresswoman shot in the brain, and this ass goes on TV to politicize the event and try to get traction for an obvious, transparent political agenda. It was disgusting.

    The man embarrassed his own department, his fellow officers, his county and his constituency.

    No matter what anyone thinks about the surrounding circumstances of our political climate, one man with a gun pulled the trigger and as a result those people dead and injured. Period. As a law enforcement officer, especially the head of the agency, it should be profoundly obvious that the utmost professionalism is demanded in order to deal with such a heinous crime that shocked, injured and grieved a community so.

    For him to use to try to throw political feces on those with whom he personally disagrees with is mind blowing. Trying to insinuate those who want illegal immigration halted, the Tea Party or talk radio were to blame when the echoes of the shooting had scarcely died show how monumentally unsuited he is for his job.

    Because in jumping out so quick in such a reactionary political way, he set himself and his agency up to look the fools. And bam, what did we find out: Jared Lee Loughner did not listen to talk radio, wasn?t into right wing politics and in fact was described by his friends as very left wing, hating and railing on George W. Bush regularly.

    Just imagine if the shooting had occurred in Maricopa County and Sheriff Joe Arpaio came out and said ?This was partially the result of all the caustic politics of the current President and his party, the editorials of major newspapers, the opinions of the majority of actors and singers as well as the vitriol stirred up by professors and teachers in academia.?

    The high pitched screams from the media would deafen every dog in America. Oh, how they?d yell ?How dare a law enforcement officer comment about a tragedy and blame others politically!! He must be fired!! NOW!!? And he would be. And if Arpaio did that, he’d deserve to be fired. Just as Dupnik does.

    I?m not taking political sides here because it was a killing spree and such a terrible event rises above partisan politics. They have no place in a thing like this. Only one man is to blame and one man must, in my opinion, pay the ultimate price.

    What stands out here is this:
    1.What Dupnik did was a betrayal of his profession, whatever political stance he proceeded from
    2.If the political roles were reversed, he would have been crushed by the media already and put out to pasture.

    No law man with any integrity would ever, under the color of office and in the line of duty, use his position to use the horrific deaths of innocent people to politically attack others or to try to get political whoopee points for himself. That’s just sick.

    I predict he loses his next election by a healthy margin, at least I hope he does because he deserves to be impeached for his unforgivable insensitivity, incompetence, arrogance and selfishness.

  26. Well said, Shane. I hope that you are correct about his re-election – squawking like political parrot in the midst of profound horror is about as irresponsible as it gets…

  27. I was a fully-sworn cop in Arizona for nine years (Town of Gilbert, patrol officer reserve)–having graduated first in my state-certified law enforcement academy class–and I disgree with Mr. Davis.

    So there.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  28. (spell-check corrected, per report-writing 101):

    I was a fully-sworn cop in Arizona for nine years (Town of Gilbert, patrol officer, reserve)?having graduated first in my state-certified law enforcement academy class?and I disgree with Mr. Davis.

    So there.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  29. Chuckle. Spell check stll not working:

    Make that “disagree.”

    Steve Benson
    (formerly PSN 4204)

  30. Steve,
    You are an editorial cartoonist now. Your job is to make political commentary, you get paid by your paper to do so. I get that.

    Dupnik is not an editorial cartoonist, essayist or talking head consultant. He is public official represents ALL the taxpayers in Pima County, despite their political leanings. His job is to enforce laws, stop crime, maintain a jail and keep the peace. It is NOT to make political speeches in the immediate shadow of senseless murders.

    He either knows better and is too crass and unprofessional to care or too ignorant to understand. Either way, he’s unqualified for his job.

    And I never took Report Writing 101, it looked to hard.

    So there.

  31. So Officer Benson, did you invent spurious connections as needed or on an ad-hoc basis when talking to the press? Inquiring minds want to know… πŸ˜‰

  32. I’m saying that invoking law enforcement status is not the end-all or be-all, particularly when it comes to Mr. Davis’ attempt to speak in behalf of the Pima County sheriff’s “department, his fellow officers, his county and his constituency.”

    As a cop, encountered and interacted with police officers of various political persuasions. As a result, I am reasonably confident that there are bound to be disagreements among fellow law enforcement officers as to the priority and content of the statements made by Sheriff Dupnik, regardless of what Mr. Davis might wish to suggest.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  33. Mr. Davis–

    If you can speak as a person in law enforcement (albeit the exact nature of your status there having not been clearly articulated by you here), then I can speak as a political cartoonist with experience in law enforcement.

    Meaning, if you are going to invoke your perspective, then I can certainly invoke mine–from both past experience in law enforcement as a police officer and from current experience as a political cartoonist.

    Sorry, but you don’t establish the lines as far as who can speak about what.

    Nor to you speak for the Pima County sheriff’s department, Pima County at large or the Pima County sheriff’s consituency–unless, of course, since the Tucson shootings you have been officially designated as their PIO.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  34. You are operatring on the premise that the Sheriff’s criticism of speech which he links to the Tucson massacre is on the same level as flying pigs.

    Of course, you are entitled to that view–if you intending to call the Sheriff a pig and claim that he flies.

    Or if you intending to say that the Sheriff’s assertions are the equivalent of flying pig fantasies, which of course you can also do–which then makes your views as political in their nature as you seem to be implying the Sheriff’s are.

    See how this is fast becoming a political debate and not a cartoon one?

    But, wait. Political cartoons are designed to provoke political debate–and a robust one seems to be developing here..

    Mission accomplished.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  35. I don’t need evidence to claim flying pigs influenced the shooter.

    And Sherrif Dupnik didn’t need evidence to claim the Talk Radio influenced the shooter, either.

    No evidence = making stuff up.
    Evidence = NOT making stuff up.

    Free speech is wonderful – the sherrif can make stuff up freely and we the public can call say, “hey! Where’s your evidence, you nincompoop! Stop inventing connections!”

  36. And you can attempt to make up your case for the conservative crank machine about what you regard as leftist inventions.

    I have no problem with that. Have at it. Free speech and all that.

    This has obviously become a political debate–prompted by a political cartoon. Go figure. πŸ™‚ Might want to think about taking your worldview to bigger audience: Try K-RUSH, on the far-right side of the dial.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  37. That deep thought brought to you by Flying Monkeys on the Right.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  38. Steve, your Sheehan example won’t wash. Sheehan, in her zeal to badmouth Bush and enjoy the spotlight of the liberal media, began parrotiing the Arab jihadi line that America, because of her policies, deserved 9/11, that we are the cause of turmoil in the Mid-East, that Bush is a war-monger, blah, blah, blah. Putting a turban on her head was appropriate and deserved. Her own words were the basis of the cartoon… unlike your Palin cartoon which sits on no evidence whatsoever except your own fevered wish to make a connection between Palin and a crazy murderer.

    I plead guilty however, to having – more than once – attacked a public figure undeservedly and later regretting it. (The Sheehan example is not one of them.) I suspect that any cartoonist who has been at it over several years has done the same – that is, attack someone and later regretting it because it wasn’t true or supported by at least some evidence.

    As I’ve said before, I respect your talent and ability as a cartoonist. I just think – no, I know – you went over the line on this one.

  39. Oh, it washes, alright.

    By the application of your own argument (and by the suggestion of the critic which I quoted), your cartoon amounts to “character assassination” of Sheehan.

    An Arab?

    A member of the Taliban?

    An anti-American?

    An enemy of the United States?

    A traitor to her country, despite being the mother of a KIA U.S. soldier?

    Why did you place that turban on her head, if you meant not to suggest any or all of the above labels apply to her?

    Live by your pen, my friend, die by your pen.

    I think–no, I know–you are applying a double standard. In doing so, you have gone over the very line you have, um, drawn. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  40. I took Mr. Moore’s turban and turned it back on him.

    A character assassin accusing me of character assassination.

    Doesn’t get better than that.

    ?I am writing concerning the . . . political cartoon by Carl Moore. The cartoon in the Jan. 6 issue, which portrays Cindy Sheehan wearing a turban, is ignorant and offensive.

    ?Whether one agrees or disagrees with Sheehan?s actions, . . . she has given more to this nation, in the form of her dead son, than Moore ever will.

    ?This garbage perpetuates the idea now in vogue in this country that disagreement with the Iraq war makes one a traitor or worse, a terrorist. Is Sheehan supposed to be the equivalent of Osama bin Laden?

    ?It is, moreover, offensive to Arab-Americans who may choose to dress this way. . . .

    ?Maj. Charles R. Bowery Jr.
    Katterbach, Germany?Γ—130321

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  41. Here is some biographical information on Major Charles R. Bowery, Jr., who has taken Mr. Moore to task over Mr. Moore’s character assassination cartoon of Cindy Sheehan:

    –As of February 2007, Major Bowery was the exectuive officer of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, stationed in Katterbach, Germany.

    –Major Bowery is also a noted military historian and author, as well as a former instructor at West Point.

    –And finally, this summary bio info on the Major:

    “Major Charles R. Bowery, Jr. is a United States Army officer, and a former history instructor from West Point, who [at the time of this biographical sketch was] . . . serving as a U.S. Army officer in Iraq.

    “He brings a proud heritage and personal experience in military command and combat positions to his study of leadership in the Civil War. Counting three Confederate Army soldiers among his storied ancestors, he was born and raised in New Kent County, Virginia, a suburb of Richmond on the outskirts of the Army of Northern Virginia’s first battlefields. His early fascination with the War Between the States led him to the field of military history. [His] ‘Lee & Grant’ is one military historian’s attempt to take a fresh look at a great contest of wills and extract lessons for today’s business and political leaders.

    “Before his combat tour in Iraq, Bowery completed the Command and General Staff Officer’s Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and served with the First Infantry Division in Ansbach, Germany. He [was] scheduled to return to Germany sometime in early 2005. . . . . [H]is wife . . . [also at the time of the posting of this biography was ] an Army lawyer with the Judge Advocate General’s Corp, . . . ”

    Congratulations, Mr. Moore.

    Your cartoon character-assassination of the mother of a KIA soldier, Cindy Sheehan, led to Major Bowery’s decision to suspend his reading of the “Stars and Stripes,” in which your venomous personal attack on her was published:

    ?I will refrain from spending my money on ‘Stars and Stripes’ for the time being. If I want to subject myself to slanted, shock-jock right-wing propaganda, I can tune into American Forces Network Radio and listen to Rush Limbaugh for free.”Γ—130321

    And you, Mr. Moore, have the temerity to lecture me about appropriate cartooning.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  42. To be fair, Steve’s own paper seems not share his view:

    But regardless, it’s palm slap to forehead hypocrisy that the day after the shooting NYTKrugman starts the week long demand/accusation civility noise machine by blaming everybody who doesn’t recycle drowning polar bears for their incendiary rhetoric that -of course, is responsible for the murder of 6 people. But 10 days later when health care comes up for vote guess who’s calling who a nazi?

    And it appears Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (now there’s name that was familiar his share of wedgies) statements have prejudiced case against Loughner.

  43. But, back to cartooning, this statement was interesting for a couple of reasons:

    “It’s not that we need more proof that editorial cartooning…is the lowest of all art forms..” -NGillespie

    1. It was meant as a slap but if you do this long enough, you realize that it’s quite the opposite: readers may hate you but we have a privilege and an opportunity available no where else to literally force someone to think. It’s also a responsibility.
    “SHOE”, not so much.

    2. Evidently Mr. Gillespie is unfamiliar w/ webcomics. (and before you webbies spew your FUNYUNS, I’ve got a webcomic.)

  44. Since when do you let a newspaper’s institutional editorials ultimately determine your cartooned viewpoint, Mike L.?

    Aren’t we independent commentators–or at least don’t we try to be?

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Repuublic

  45. Steve,
    First, to clarify my position I am a Texas State Trooper and have been since 1995. Before that I served on a SRT Team at a nuclear weapons facility and held a peace officers license as a deputy sheriff for a Texas Sheriff’s office. Before that (when I was young and skinny) my first commission was as a campus police officer at a university. I’ve been commissioned since around 1990. I hope that clears up your suspicion concerning my standing in law enforcement.

    Second, you are certainly free to speak then as a political cartoonist with experience in law enforcement. But you are not a professional law enforcement officer. Your current position calls for you to create images that provoke strong reactions for varying reasons (to incite thought, anger, passion or simply to shill for attention – I don’t know your motivations). It is your job to incite, enflame, challenge and editorialize.

    Since boring editorial cartoons are scarcely useful to newspaper opinion sections, editorial cartoonists understandably engage in work highly charged in emotion or politics. But this is not what police officers do and you should know that.

    I would ask you to lay aside your political allegiances for a moment and reflect on how the families of the slaughtered victims felt when they saw the man charged with protecting their community use the deaths of their loved ones to engage in political speech. That is simply a betrayal of public trust.
    Professional law enforcement officers absolutely cannot afford to lose that public trust because that is the only currency with which they can effectively operate in their community.

    Once public trust is lost, a policeman is virtually useless. How can you file charges and claim you are fair and even handed when you’ve gone on television and made baseless accusations that undercut your own investigations? How can you ask for an indictment when your own words show you lack the wisdom to withhold judgment until the facts are in? How can you ask a jury for a conviction when you’ve shown you have no respect for the process by politically publicly trying and convicting uninvolved parties to advance a personal agenda?

    I get that Dupnik was friends with Giffords. But to go on the attack like that reveals a startling lack of maturity. Plenty of police officers have had to respond to domestic disturbances, murders, suicides or horrific DWI traffic accidents where they knew the victims. But you don’t start yelling and making judgments out loud about what happened to your friend. You don’t jump to conclusions in front of the media and damage the very investigation you’re paid to undertake just because your emotions are raw. You don’t LET your emotions get raw.

    That’s the very definition of professionalism in law enforcement – that is why they pay us. To not get rattled, to not be biased, to not go off half cocked, but rather to provide courtesy, service, protection and do so in a fair, impartial manner. That’s the job. If one can’t do that, get out of the job.

    One wonders, if it ever occurred to Sheriff Dupnik in his pressers that by dragging political rhetoric and conservative political figures into the situation and making them objects of blame, he was engaging in biased political rhetoric himself and essentially became that which he condemned?

    In the real world that is called colossal hypocrisy and that is exactly why police officers are NOT supposed to go there while on the job and in uniform. It violates the very oath of office we take to serve ALL fairly and in a non-biased manner.

    Dupnik is a foolish partisan. If he had any integrity, he’d save his Department’s reputation and resign.

  46. OK, so we’re both guys with law enforcement experience who disagree on what’s going on in Pima County with their sheriff.

    You’re in Texas. (I used to live in Texas, by the way; grew up in Dallas and my former editorial page editor, Keven Ann Wiley is the current editor of the Dallas Morning News, not far from where I used to live in the north Dallas suburb of RIchardson).

    I’m in Arizona, a mere 110 miles from Tucson, which is a lot closer than for you in Texas.

    Perhaps I’ve got a better bead ‘ read on this than you, Ranger Shane.

    Everything isn’t always bigger and better in Texas, despite what y’all may say.


    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    Editoiral cartoonist

  47. Ms. Wiley, more specifically, is the editor of the DMN’s editorial pages.

    Being that you are from Texas, I now reckon that you speak even less for the county of Pima AZ, for the sheriff there, for his constituents there or for his deputies there.

    When was the last time you made a trip to Pima County or visited Tucson?

    Know much about the place or its people?

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  48. “Since when do you let a newspaper?s institutional editorials ultimately determine your cartooned viewpoint, Mike L.?” SBenson

    I don’t and I didn’t say otherwise. I’ve gone out of my way to underscore the independence of thought slingers like us. -Even from our own editorial boards. (My editors,newsroom? They treat me like you treat Palin. Except I’ve give the reason.)

    That’s the problem w/ these threads (as Wiley keeps reminding me and I’m too stupid to listen) Supposedly funny, humorous cartoonists become neither. Why so….serious?

    Mike Lester
    Big Deputy Dog Fan
    Does That Count?

    P.S. you know you’re reading some heavy weight debaters when they break out the “so there” ‘s.:) What’s next? Your mama’s so fat…

  49. Ok, so it’s MY fault that I’m not funny or humorous enough to get your meaning.

    If this is an ongoing problem for you Mike, perhaps you should look inward. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  50. P.S.–and so there.

    Or didn’t you get the humor and funniness of that remark the first time, Mike?


    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Repubic

  51. Actually, the fascist sheriff of Maricopa County has made many unfounded political statements.

    I don’t agree that the Tucson shootings can be laid at the feet of Sarah Palin, but if anyone is going to talk about truthiness it can’t be someone who supported Bush or his two wars totally based on lies–which rules out anyone who votes Republican.

  52. Actually I think Steve’s work is top notch.
    As far as the Palin toon, I don’t see it as blaming her specifically for the shooting, but it does bring to light the type of rhetoric this is carelessly thrown about by potential presidential candidate.
    I wonder what we woud be discussing if the Gabby had been a republican? I wonder how that would have played out?
    Personally, I think we may find that it had more to do with her being a local celebrity that the shooter knew he could get close to as opposed to her actual politcs.
    In his mugshot he looked fairly smug and pleased with himself. Maybe someday we’ll find out.

  53. Hugging eagle aside, after reading these comments I now like and respect Benson. Besides, I can’t get that Sarah Gun-mouth out of my head.

    Who cares if Palin is inspirationally involved? She is friggin cartoon gold! Someone here wrote that she’ll never gain the Oval Office, and she won’t, which is a darn pity, because America surely deserves a president with fake, plastic boobies. But until she blows away, let’s be thankful for the moron Alaskan gasbag cracker…. and her obnoxious brood. I still get a smile thinking of her trollop daughter clomping around the stage on Dancing With the Stars while millions stared in horror. And we wonder why cartoons are falling out of favor. How can any of us top THAT visual?

  54. @Benson. “And you, Mr. Moore, have the temerity to lecture me about appropriate cartooning. ”

    Well, yes I do, Mr. Benson. I guess you didn’t see where I admitted to doing inappropriate cartoons. In the spirit of it takes one to know one, you’ve drawn not just an inappropriate cartoon, you’ve drawn a libelous cartoon – one that is drawn to harm someone’s character even though you knew there was no evidence for it.

    Attacking Sheehan after her son died would be inappropriate. Attacking her after several months of her sounding like one of Osama Bin Laden’s useful idiots may or may not be appropriate, but at least it carries some truth. Her own words and actions put that turban on her head. (The military man’s credentials and taking offense at it matters not a wit).

    I once drew a cartoon of Clinton viciously attacking and raping a woman. My editors spiked it for being “inappropriate

  55. Sorry about that, a power surge interrupted.

    I did a cartoon showing Clinton attacking and raping a woman. (done in good taste, mind you… wink, wink) It was sdonpiked as lacking in evidence in spite of Juanita Broaderrick’s accusations on “60 Minutes.” Yet here’s a cartoon accusing someone of complicity to murder and the lib community yells, “hooray! Put it out there! It’s that crazy nutcase Sarah Palin!” The double standard lives on… and on… and on.

  56. The Majjor said it all, Mr. Moore. You have no credibility in this arena.

    So, she is a terrorist, in your view.


    Pathetic, little assassin.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  57. ?Whether one agrees or disagrees with Sheehan?s actions, her ?anti-war shtick? is her right as an American citizen; frankly, she has given more to this nation, in the form of her dead son, than Moore ever will.

    ?This garbage [of Mr. Mooore’s] perpetuates the idea now in vogue in this country that disagreement with the Iraq war makes one a traitor or worse, a terrorist. . . .

    ?I will refrain from spending my money on ?Stars and Stripes? for the time being. If I want to subject myself to slanted, shock-jock right-wing propaganda, I can tune into American Forces Network Radio and listen to Rush Limbaugh for free.?

    ?Maj. Charles R. Bowery Jr.
    Katterbach, Germany
    letter to “Stars and Stripes”

    Wear that badge with pride, Mr. Moore, you hypocrite

  58. What is more notable (and, therefore, more deserving of comment) to me is that the editor of Reason claims editorial cartooning is the lowest of all art forms. Sure, lame cartoons are being done today (and always have been), but there are so many good, thought-provoking cartoons drawn every day that to dismiss editorial cartooning outright makes me not give a s**t who Nick Gillespie “takes to task.” Just like I don’t want to read movie reviews by a critic who thinks movies suck.

  59. @John: I worry that he may be right.

    Readers can’t judge an artform by its potential or the good intentions of its practitioners. They have to judge what they see. And what readers of American newspapers see, day after mindnumbing day, is a parade of simply atrocious, stupid, unfunny, lame and downright ineptly executed crap.

    Yes, there are a lot of good editorial cartoons out there. But very few major venues print or post them, so very few people see them.

    If a hard-hitting political cartoon falls in the woods…

  60. @Benson It amazes me that you are so vehement in your denial of unfairly libeling someone. Feeling a little guilty, are you? C’mon, Benson, you don’t really believe her little crosshairs graphic and martial talk caused someone to go nuts, do you? If so, I’ve got some beachfront property in Needles I want to sell you. Heck, even Ted doesn’t buy this Palin and conservative rhetoric triggered the Tucson attack crud. People who do buy it – and your cartoon says you do – look silly.

    Why liberals get their jollies off attacking Palin mystifies me. I don’t think she has a prayer of getting the nomination, but just in case she might, you guys should be cheering her on. She would clearly be Obama’s easiest opponent in the general. He would crush her.

  61. I wonder if we’ll be able to call close political races “battle ground states” for fear someone might mistake the metaphor and launch an actual battle… then we can all blame terminology instead of the nuts themselves.
    But I’m sure once we end all innuendo to shooting or war the insane will just magically forget about guns and violence and mellow out.

  62. Mr.Moore–

    Cindy Sheehan opposed the war in Iraq.

    Her son was a KIA member of the U.S. military.

    You allowed her child’s corpse to cool for a few months, then proceeded to attack Ms. Sheehan as an Arab-tunic-wearing enemy of the United States in league with Osama Bin Laden.

    You vehemently denounce my Palin cartoon as lacking what you call “decorum.”

    Yet your assault on Ms. Sheehan is Exhibit A in a lack of “decorum.” Why do you keep vehemently denying that fact?

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  63. @Phil:

    You might want to choose your words carefully, as in “battle ground.”

    When Tea Party types hear that kind of stuff they literally strap on their guns and come a-runnin.’


    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  64. @Benson. Hypocrite? I’m a hypocrite? Let’s see, we both have drawn cartoons that unfairly attacked someone. I admit that I have drawn such cartoons. You don’t seem to be able to do that. The hypocrite is in your mirror.

    At first, I used the word “decorum” but I soon realized it wasn’t a strong enough word. I now call your cartoon “libelous.” It’s a better fit. Yes, my Sheehan cartoon is obviously “indecorous.” But it’s not libelous. Libel is knowingly harming someone’s character in print when there is no evidence for doing so. You’ve obviously done that.

    It’s striking how you avoid defending your cartoon. Your only response is to call people names.

    As I said before, you should be cheering Palin on, not drawing cartoons that make both her and you look bad.

  65. This is getting tiresome I’ll let you have the last word. You need it. Maybe there’s some way you can rationalize this badly thought-out cartoon. If there is, I haven’t seen it yet. I look forward to it.


    And Satire, while an affirmative defense is and pretty much always has been a successful defense against libel. While I’m far more sympathetic to Mr. Benson’s position simply because as a former Republican and former campaign worker for McCain 2000 I loathe what the right has become and have a great deal of sympathy and empathy for Ms. Sheehan (as a disabled combat vet myself); I think you guys are both just doing what you think is right from the perspective of your political views. Which is what you do.

    To suggest any of this work is inciting… the stuff you guys are doing or what Palin did with her cross hairs and so on implies that the speaker makes a call to action explicit enough to move the reader to action. You may BELIEVE that but that doesn’t make it true. It’s a pretty clear line and it’s been pretty well defined in court.

    The whole argument that rhetoric is harmful is a veiled attack on free speech. We’d all be much better off supporting Vermont’s constitutional amendment to try and disassemble the corporate entity so we can have discourse free of corporate influence in political debates. Removing the corporations obfuscation in such debates and breaking up the media conglomerates would lead to a much more truthfully informed public which in turn would lead to less divisiveness, less contention and frankly more decorum.

    I’m really not sure what you guys are arguing about… who’s better at being insensitive maybe? Does it really matter if you both think you’re doing your job and your employer is happy and your readers are enlightened, informed or inspired?

    And just so there’s no confusion:

    the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

  67. Are we all still talking about why a bunch of right-leaning libertarians are whining about something? It’s getting in the way of the thread about the Pope’s religion.

  68. Mr. Moore–

    Indeed, it is getting tiresome. Why are you so vehemently defensive in regard to your non-decorous smear of Ms. Sheehan?

    I think using your own words here gives us the answer:

    “Feeling a little guilty, are you?”


    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  69. Here’s a critic, within the context of the Palin cartoon, demanding that all of us editorial cartoonists be put to pasture and that our art form be officially discontinued:

    “Benson on Palin as glock [Note: I didn’t draw her as a Glock; rather, her mouth was depicted in the form of a REVOLVER’S muzzle but, hey, details, details]

    “The escalation is inevitable. . . . Benson [c]artoon . . . would have been outrageous even if there weren’t calls for civility. Benson is no mere local commentator. He’s not like a Tucson talk radio host. Benson is a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for one of the largest papers in the nation. His paper also happens to be the paper of record in the very state in which the incident occurred. Benson helps set the national tone. We’ve already seen Palin respond to her critics with charges of ‘Blood Libel’ then we’ve seen a full news cycle responding to her use of the term. So much for civility.

    “So now the ‘[Tucson Daily] Star’ is reporting that local politicians are toning it down. If you ‘tone Benson down,’ his cartoons will be about as interesting as the illustrations in ‘Highlights’ magazine. Retire him.

    “The era of the provocative editorial cartoon is over. People will look back on this era the same way we look back on ehnic [sic] jokes, or cigarette smoking characters on our Saturday morning cartoons. Or maybe cigarette advertising is a better example–Benson and Fitz [David Fitzsimmons, editorial cartoonist for the ‘Star’]a re Joe the Camel. They were funny and effective for a number of years, but they do much more harm than good and eventually, grown ups decided to retire them. ”

  70. You’ve been DEMONIZED!! LMAO!!

    Steve, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind redrawing that Palin cartoon with YOUR face instead of hers, right?

    Could it be that political cartoonists are just like Talk Radio, spewing hooooorrrrrrribble opinions that cause nut jobs to shoot at people?

    Does ‘political correctness’ require a lobotomy? Based on this critic, I’m thinking it does…

    “Tone it down” translates to “Shut UP!”

  71. @Rob–

    The notion that rhetoric is inciting is not a veiled attack on free speech (despite .what pistol-packin’ Tea Party nutwads would have us believe).

    It’s simply the idea that rhetoric can, well, be inciting.

    No one is calling for Palin to be gagged and thrown into Guantanamo for being a blithering idiot, firing off inciteful (as opposed to insightful) rounds from her muzzle mouth.

    They’re just urging her to tone it down, especially on the day that Obama was in Tucson memorializing the dead and wounded. But what was Palin doing that very morning? Defending her gun sites map on Spacedbook (and she continues to do so, her latest mouth-off taking place on Hannity’s FOX Spews).

    Earth to Sarah: Even you own pac took down your map gun sites from your website. When your own people start reining you in, that should tell you that your rabidness has gone beyond the pale-lin.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  72. @ Dave–

    When does “tone it down” translate into “you must tone it down, by order of the Fuherer”?

    One would hope Palin-pumpin’ mudpots would suppress their own burblings as a matter of decency, but do you really think there’s going to be government enforcement action taken if she doesn’t?

    And, of course, people are telling cartoonists to “tone it down/shut up” all the time. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. I haven’t been sent to some CIA prison in Eastern Europe, though, for failure to comply.

    If Palin doesn’t want to shut up, she won’t. Which is a good thing–for cartoonists.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  73. Steve,

    You?re a very talented cartoonist, who?s very partisan. Good. Editorial cartoonists should have a strong point of view, anything else would be boring. You hate Palin and think she?s an idiot. OK, nothing particularly original or unexpected in that, but lots of people share your distain so you have an audience. What I don?t get is how you can think of yourself as intellectually honest and still try to make a connection of Palin or the Tea Party with Loughner?s actions (there just isn?t any) or pontificate about hyperbolic rhetoric as being destructive when you indulge in exactly that with your cartoons and comments here? That strikes me as masturbatory cartooning rather than pointed satire or commentary.

  74. I am a cartoonist with opinions.

    Perish the thought.

    Palin’s rabid revolver rhetoric and that of her conservative chamber of cohorts contributes to the national diss-coarse.

    If you don’t think so, then please explaiin why Palin’s people took down her gun site map. Couldn’t stand the heat or perhaps decided it was actually a bad call to put up then leave up crosshairs over a Congresswoman who has now been shot?

    And you can quit the “you hate Palin” routine. Let me throw it back if you won’t: You hate cartoons that criticize Palin. Your “hate” card really isn’t an effective ace. It makes you sound like you’re part of the Palin pom-pom parade.

    Cartoonists go after political idiots because they deserve it, not because cartoonists supposedly have some kind of deep hatred of the idiots. Palin is one of the most deserving in that clueless category.

    If you don’t agree, then your own partisanship is showing. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  75. Steve, you are making a really strong case against yourself. Not that it matters, but I had more regard for your cartoons before you attempted to defend them. This is why it seems to me that editorial cartoonists are better off being seen and not heard.

  76. “(despite .what pistol-packin? Tea Party nutwads would have us believe)”

    You must be fearing for your life with all those gun carrying Tea Party crazies. Come to Camden, NJ where it’s safe.

  77. When going to the movies, do we ever see the director?…if we did perhaps it would change our opinion of the movie.
    ::::Raising my coffee cup, keep drawing those cartoons and let the characters do the talking…it’s what you do.

  78. @ Phil–

    How many crazy libs are bringing guns to knife fights (per Obama’s use of the phrase)?.

    As, say, opposed, to goofballs who sling semi-auto rifles over their shoulders or strap guns to their hips and thighs to attend wacky political rallies amid calls for “Second Amendment remedies” or admonitions to “don’t retreat; reload”?

    A fundamental brain disorder of the Far Right appears to be their cognitive inability to comprehend metaphor.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  79. @Rich–

    I wouldn’t currently be in this cartoon forum were it not for the fact that I was referred here by those relaying news that folks like you were here busy debating the cartoons in question.

    Your present grumpings are making a really strong case that political cartoons stir up political debate

    Still, perhaps you should take your own advice and be seen more and heard less?

    For the cause of free speech, of course. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  80. @Steve – again I cannot fathom much consistent logic in your arguments – they seem almost self-contradictory (i.e., regarding free speech for one). In my case being seen isn’t much of a help either and I generally do try to keep most of my posts positive.

    I have no problem with you stating your case, all I’m saying is that I find that it is weakening your position because it is so clearly full of bias, and what logic is there seems to be denying the opposing view the the same right to disagree that you claim for yourself. But by all means, feel free to defend your position, it has brought some clarity to where you are coming from.

  81. @Rich–

    It is not self-contradictory to criticize the likes of Palin for her irresponsible muzzle-mouth syndrome, while at the same time advocating for expression of idea in the arena of political debate.

    Keep in mind that I was not the one who here initiated politically-based diatribes regarding the cartoon in question. The drawing clearly gored some sacred cows among certain conservatives in this forum and they readily waded into the fight, loaded for bear and accusing me of, all things, libel.

    If partisan inkslingers in this forum are going to lob their verbal arsenals at me and my work, then I will lob back. If they are going to, as they have, accuse me of “assassinating” those whom I dare criticize in my cartoons (and for whom they obviously harbor personal political sympathies), then I will point to their own “sins” in that regard.

    Your problem with my “bias” (as you call it) is that it doesn’t agree with your bias. Since when are political cartoons supposed to be devoid of slant or position? You throw the loaded word “bias” at me because I suspect you don’t appreciate the fact that my political views do not comport with your own political ideology. (For chrissakes, I just heard from a reader recently who made the absurd suggestion that editorial pages be reworked so as to reflect neutrality on the issues of the day. Say what??).

    If you are so concerned about keeping your posts positive, then why stoop to accusing me of bias? It seems that we’ve got yet another case here of the pot vs. the kettle.

    This all reminds me of dealing with offended readers who demand that I draw cartoons that are fair, balanced–and from their point of view. And when I don’t comply, I’m therefore “biased.”


    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  82. Point from one contributor here:

    “Hugging eagle aside, after reading these comments I now like and respect Benson. Besides, I can?t get that Sarah Gun-mouth out of my head.”

    Counterpoint from another contributor here:

    “Steve, you are making a really strong case against yourself. Not that it matters, but I had more regard for your cartoons before you attempted to defend them.”

    Well, shucks. Just can’t seem to keep everybody happy here.

    So, continue to have at it.

    And I may continue to join in along the way. πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  83. So, in summation, don’t muzzle Palin, let her say whatever she wants no matter what, and don’t muzzle editorial cartoonists, either, let them draw whatever they want… Even if they draw a cartoon that appears to call for muzzling… Hmmm…

    Makes perfect sense to me. πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, what would Steve Benson’s reaction be to HIS face turned into a gun? Just wondering…

  84. I’m not for tossing her in jail and throwing away the tea (and my cartoon certainly didn’t call for her muzzling).

    Palin can continue to play the role of the gun goof that she’s made herself out to be and continue to infect the political diss-coarse with her rabid and stupid remarks–just as she did the very day Obama came to Tucson, when she went on Facebook and babbled out a bewildering justification of her gun site map targeting a by-then shot Congresswoman. (No matter that her own handlers had already yanked the map from That fact didn’t keep Palin from being Palin. The cartoon was timed as a direct response to her muzzle-loaded misfire.

    In summation, Caribou Barbie has pretty much cooked her own goose in her loony-loose juice. Long may she tweet.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  85. Steve, it’s true that our bias’s don’t agree, but believe it or not I have not problem with that. It’s just my opinion that your defense puts you pretty much in the same camp as Palin … on the nutty end of the extremes. That’s probably not a bad place for a political cartoonist to be though. So I’ll second Dave’s summation on the no muzzle policy. You may have the last word, I think I’ve made the only point I was trying to make.

  86. I believe I am sensing what you think on that score, as it comes through the filter of your own acknowledged bias.

    I called Palin out for her irresponsible rhetoric, coupled with her irresponsible justification, on her stupid gun sites map. She has continued that attempt at self-absolution in similar fashion on FOX Skews (in an Hannity interview “exclusive,” so-called. I mean, how “exclusive” is it to get chat time with someone who works at the same network you do? This must be FOX deep-digging journalism at its finest).

    And all the moaning and groaning I hear from Palin apologists about how my cartoon didn’t comport with the President’s call for civility. That’s a disingenuous complaint by Sarah supporters who are using the President in a pathetically transparent attempt to protect Palin from Palin.

    Finally, you think I’m nutty because you are admittedly politically biased in the other direction.

    It all depends on your vantage point along the ideological spectrum. Let me put it to you directly: You are not all that different than the partisan callers I hear from defending Palin, their Queen of Political Mean (as Arizona Republic columnist Linda Valdez recently dubbed her).

    And since when do I have the last word? This is an ongoing exercise in political cartoonist theater. If you’re giving up, then someone else will probably step in with their word. And who knows how long it will last? πŸ™‚

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  87. Steve,

    That was quite an effort to avoid responding to my main point. I was enquiring about your intellectual dishonesty regarding tying the Arizona shooting to right-wing political rhetoric, as well as critiquing a style of political discourse that you have shown, both in your cartoons and comments here, to be a prime practitioner of.

    I?m a conservative. I?m not a big fan of Palin, but I don?t she?s Beelzebub either. I?m a fan of good cartoons that criticize all politicians. There?s plenty of juicy material to take advantage of with Palin and you should have your cartooning license revoked if you didn?t take advantage of it. However, Obama?s a goldmine too and I think more relevant than Palin to editorial cartoonists because he is the most powerful player in the field, having the most effect on policy and the country. Truth to power and all that. But that?s neither there nor there, I have no problem with left-leaning cartoonists only taking conservatives to task. What I do have a problem with is cartoonists taking gratuitous shots at conservatives (or liberals) just because they don?t like them, or pontificating about something that they themselves, or the party they favor, practice with equal fervor. That?s lazy, weak and vapid stuff.

    To comment on negative or inciting discourse is a legitimate topic. To try to tie that topic to a tragic crime, when there is not one scintilla of evidence connecting the two,
    is either evidence of self-diluted, myopic partisanship or a purposeful disregard of truth for political gain. Both equally ugly, no matter how well drawn.

  88. It took no effort at all.

    Thanks, in contrast, for your devil of an effort (vain, but nonetheless gallant) at essentially excusing Palin for her poison plate pandering to those on the extreme right who keep ordering up their favorite diss-coarse fare.

    If Palin hadn’t taken cynical advantage of the Tucson massacre to narcissistically defend herself in a “blood libel” it’s-all-about-me exercise in persecuted complex, that cartoon would not have appeared in the timeline she created.

    Both you and her have unwittlingly assisted in highlighting the danger of a conservative red meat diet. But like many conservatives who refuse to own up to what Palin did, you want me to go after Obama more.


    Why does that not surprise me?

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  89. Your lack of effort shows, Steve. Again, is a cartoonist’s invented connection between a massacre of six people to a political movement or a controversial politician’s actions or statements (no matter how distasteful they may be) to make any point, defendable or intellectually honest?

    It?s a pretty straightforward question. If you don?t buy the premise, then please tell us what your evidence is that connects the two things. If you accept the premise, then please explain how it could not be seen as anything but a grotesque piece of propaganda, worthy of criticism regardless of what you think Sara Palin has done.

  90. So you say.

    You sound like a hot-button bullhorn at Tea Party rally, so please spare me the far-right lecture on propaganda.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

  91. Why is it when I step on political cartoonists’ personal political toes (particularly in the present climate among the bull elephant herd), some of them start acting like those wild-eyed, thin-skinned righties who claim they’re so tough but can’t stomach views regarding goofball politicians that are different from their own?

    I kid you not, the kind of predictable, right-wing rhetoric I’ve been witnessing here is virtually indistinguishable from uber-right extremists who look at my cartoons and proceed to get very cranky.

    Here, Pete, a hanky.

    Steve Benson
    Editorial cartoonist
    The Arizona Republic

    1. It’s become clear this thread isn’t going to taper off and it’s soo far past anything remotely close to productive. We’re done.

      Go get some work done fellas.

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