Buffoons A Threat To Cartoonists?

How social media has changed the landscape for editorial cartooning by Ann Telnaes.

At the center of the social media outrage that Ann describes was her cartoon:


I did not see the original Washington Post political attack ad featuring Cruz and his daughters, but the use of family as props is traditional American politics. I took Ann’s cartoon as criticism of that practice in general and Cruz’s use of it in particular.

Even more of a tradition in American politics, is the intellectually and morally dishonest failure to engage the issue at hand. Rather than responding to the criticism of his exploitation of his own children, Cruz attacked Ann as though she was the one at fault.

That should not have been unexpected, given Cruz’s party is responsible for the “Checkers” speech and other notable acts of national deception. (If you don’t know the “Checkers” speech, check it out. TV was just becoming a player in national politics, much like social media now.)

As you can tell, I think the response by Cruz and others was a deliberate distortion of the original cartoon and certainly the abuse heaped upon Ann was unjustified, but what I am missing is the threat posed by “social media lynch mobs?”

What if every buffoon on Fox, social media, etc., all took to social media to criticize Ann’s cartoon?

Certainly a waste of electricity and data packets, but so what? They are theirs to waste.

Ann’s fellow cartoonists recognized the absurdity of the criticism, as would any rational person familiar with American politics.

Ann suggests:

How should the journalism community protect cartoonists so they can do their jobs? We need to educate and be ready the next time a cartoonist aims his or her satire against a thin-skinned politician or interest group looking for an opportunity to manipulate fair criticism. Be aware when a false narrative is being presented to deflect the actual intent of a cartoon; talk to your editors and come up with a plan to counter the misinformation.

Sorry, what other than “false narratives” were you expecting? Shouldn’t we make that assumption at the outset and prepare to press forward with the “true narrative?”

Ann almost captures my approach when she says:

It has been said cartoonists are on the front lines of the war to defend free speech.

The war to defend free speech is quite real. If you doubt that, browse the pages of Index on Censorship.

Where I differ from Ann is that I don’t see the braying of every buffoon social media has to offer as a threat to free speech.

Better filters are the answer to buffoons on social media.

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