Washington Post Humor Columnist Defends Paper's Amputee Cartoon

In his web chat today, Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten stated that there was "nothing wrong" with Tom Toles' now (in)famous amputee cartoon -- a cartoon which, in Weingarten's words, "is deeply critical of a callous administration that deserves deep criticism."

Here's the Q&A from the chat:

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Gene - You are the arbiter of all that is funny. What are your thoughts on the recent controversy over Tom Toles' cartoon depicting a soldier who had lost both arms and legs in Iraq? Does it cross the line, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff are claiming?

Thanks. This chat is one of the highlights of my week. I can't decide if that is wonderful, since I really enjoy the chat, or pathetic, since it means that one of the things I most enjoy is staring at a computer screen.

washingtonpost.com: Tom Toles, (Jan. 29)

Gene Weingarten: I'm going to try to be calm here.

The administration's attack on this cartoon is cynical, hypocritical, demagogic, and disgusting. The Post has defended it, but I wish they had defended it even more strongly.

There is nothing wrong with this cartoon. It does not trivialize or make a joke of the injured vets' plights. It is deeply critical of a callous administration that deserves deep criticism. The government's response to this cartoon, in fact, proves that the cartoon's central thesis is true. This is an administration that ruthlessly and dishonestly manipulates language and distorts facts in the service of its own agendas -- and does so by cynically flogging political bromides and pushing emotional hot buttons. That's demagoguery.

I can see why the Rumsfelds in our government would like to cow other cartoonists into not expressing opinions like this. So they coordinate a great hue and cry about how this cartoon is somehow disrespectful of injured vets.
A big, transparent, cynical lie.

Is there any defender of this administration out there who would like to defend the government's reaction to this cartoon?

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters