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BAILEY DABNEY: Editorial cartoons are expendable

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Last week, a syndicated editorial cartoon we published touched off a firestorm of emotion. I was aghast that it found its way into the paper. Sometimes busy people make mistakes. I know our editor well enough to know it was just that – a mistake.

Some readers were insulted, hurt, angered and/or otherwise unhappy by its publication. Readers were right to feel that way, and we apologize.

It was a terrible error on our part to publish such an inflammatory cartoon. We have apologized online, in print and in scores of emails, phone calls and text messages, and again here today.

We consider our editorial page to be a broad marketplace of thought. Very little of it is our own. The syndicated pieces and letters are endorsed only by their writers, certainly not us.

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In my mind, editorial cartoons are expendable. None of them are produced by our staff, and rarely do they depict a local issue. They are produced by an artist in some other city who never has to face his or her readers.

Almost all editorial cartoons these days take a hard swipe at somebody. Very few are funny. Instead, they are more often divisive and heartless.

The process of choosing editorial cartoons is a vulnerable one. There are often cartoons that mean one thing to one person and an entirely different thing to another person. Often there are no good options. I don’t see any reason to keep publishing bad editorial cartoons.

We will continue to take responsibility for publishing an offensive cartoon, but after the uproar we caused last week, we have made a decision to suspend the use of editorial cartoons on our Opinion page for the time being.

There might come a time when we decide to once again publish editorial cartoons. But that time is not now.

For the foreseeable future, we will fill that space with other content, better content.

Bailey Dabney is the regional publisher of the Morning News.

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