Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A modest proposal...

...that we all stop frothing at the mouth over the cover of the latest The New Yorker. I'm with Jack Shafer on this one:

Calling on the press to protect the common man from the potential corruptions of satire is a strange, paternalistic assignment for any journalist to give his peers, but that appears to be what The New Yorker's detractors desire. I don't know whether to be crushed by that realization or elated by the notion that one of the most elite journals in the land has faith that Joe Sixpack can figure out a damned picture for himself.

Yes, I understand why some people are taking offense, and as an Obama supporter I certainly understand the danger the cartoon poses. Satire can be easily misinterpreted or taken at face value. My grandmother, I'm sorry to say, was one of the most bigoted people I've ever known (rest her soul), yet she loved "All in the Family." And I'm sure she wasn't the only one. That doesn't mean that Norman Lear or Carol O'Connor should have been pilloried for lampooning racism.

What I find depressing about this episode is that it reinforces the stereotype that liberals are humorless, politically correct scolds. Some have even gone as far as to call The New Yorker "gutless" for failing, on its cover, to criticize John McCain for benefitting from the ugly rumors being floated about Obama.

Come on. Few mainstream media outlets have been as aggressive in covering the Bush administration as The New Yorker. They don't have to prove their chops to anyone. Besides, the Internet echo chamber aside, if Obama needs to rely on a magazine whose readers probably already support him, then he's got problems.

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