Fitzsimmons Reacts to Texas Furor Over Cartoon

As reported here a Texas school district came under fire from parents, police organizations, and, eventually, the state’s governor for including a David Fitzsimmons cartoon that didn’t show law enforcement in the best light as part of an eighth grade project. As Fitz put it:

The good folks of Wylie, Texas, a very white suburb of Dallas, were so shocked by my assertion that whites have been oppressing blacks since before our nation’s founding that they could not catch their breath.

And what about the freedom of expression, democracy and the Bill of Rights?

And what did we learn today, children? We must not criticize law enforcement. Ever. Ever! We must not teach history. And we must not question.

Fitzsimmons doesn’t defend the cartoon, instead he asks those objecting to justify their position.

Persecuting, smearing and scapegoating public school teachers for teaching truth, civic dialogue, historical context and critical thought is beyond unacceptable. It’s un-American.

Read Fitz’s column here.


At the same time Daryl Cagle, who runs the syndicate that distributes Fitzsimmons’ cartoons nationwide, also took the time to write about the hullabaloo and the school district kowtowing to the raucous objections.

The interpretation of an editorial cartoon is part of state-mandated AP History testing in 8th and 11th grade throughout America. School textbooks that “teach to the test” are big clients for editorial cartoonists. Some of Fitzsimmons’ best clients for licensing cartoons are test-preparation companies.

It is the role of eighth-grade teachers to prepare students for these tests and teach them to evaluate controversies in the news by exposing them to different points of view about the issues of the day. There’s no better way to do that than through editorial cartoons. Fitzsimmons’ cartoons are widely used in middle and high school curriculums, not only in the U.S., but around the world.

Classroom discussions of “what did the cartoonist mean by this?” effectively engage students and prompt them to think about issues from different perspectives.

Read Daryl’s observations as he evaluates those involved.




One thought on “Fitzsimmons Reacts to Texas Furor Over Cartoon

  1. I’m from Wylie, and yes, there was (is) quite a hubbub over that cartoon being shown to 8th graders, partly because the conservatives didn’t want to admit to the truth. But on the surface, they feel it was just too in-your-face for 8th graders, especially since it was an online class, and the teacher wasn’t there to immediately bring context to the perceived shock. Since I’m old, I have no idea what 8th graders can handle these days, but I tend to agree with Fitzsimmons and Cagle on principle.

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