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Did the New Yorker go too far?

Posted Monday, July 14, 2008, at 8:58 PM

The current race for the presidency continues to be fraught with controversy, and this week it got a little more outlandish, as the cover of the New Yorker shocked the nation with a cartoon intended to be satirical. Barack Obama is shown as a Muslim, and his wife is decked out as a terrorist. The obvious INTENT of this liberal magazine is to poke FUN at this idea, which is held by a certain portion of the U.S. population.

So much for their INTENT. Needless to say, the whole idea has created a firestorm of controversy, has been called "tasteless and offensive" by the Obama camp, and even John McCain has called it offensive, as well.

David Remnick, editor-in-chief of the New Yorker, explained the magazine's rationale:

"The intent of the cover is to satirize the vicious and racist attacks and rumors and misconceptions about the Obamas that have been floating around in the blogosphere and are reflected in public opinion polls," Remnick says. "What we set out to do was to throw all these images together, which are all over the top and to shine a kind of harsh light on them, to satirize them. That's part of what we do."

However, satire is a tricky device. Many, many people take satire literally. About one out of 10 Americans continue to believe that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is a Muslim, after all. For them, and for many other observers, there is no "satire" involved in this issue; they look at the cover and simply say, "So, we knew it all along!"

It's not as if Remnick was unaware of what might happen with this magazine cover:

"Satire always comes with some risk and the chance of people misunderstanding it, but if you're going to satirize things only that there's a 100% census on, there's no satire," he said. "There's maybe a certain percentage of the public that thinks there was no moon landing, should we not satirize that?"

Polls in some states show that a fifth of white Democrats will not vote for Obama simply on the basis of color. It would appear that the New Yorker may have inadvertantly added fuel to the fire.


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I think the Bloomfield General Baptist Church put those out back in '04. It doesn't imply a vote for a political candidate is a vote for Jesus but a statement of priority. Somebody, where can I get me one?

-- Posted by swift on Thu, Jul 24, 2008, at 4:12 PM

Good question...I don't know, but if you find out let me in on the secret.

-- Posted by layne staley on Thu, Jul 24, 2008, at 4:38 AM

There you go, Layne! Good name for a party! Broad enough to include everybody whether we agree or not. Only problem is, I doubt that's going to happen any time soon.

By the way, have any of you seen that "Jesus For President" yard sign on Hwy 25 in Bloomfield? I like that! Where do you get one I wonder?

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 3:18 PM


Our party name has to reach out further. Jesus allowed everyone to follow Him; there were no boundaries which is one of the many reasons why Christianity has flourished. I say we go with the People's Party of Believers. Do you believe the sky is blue...you're in. Do you believe that water is wet...you're in. Do you believe Hoon should be the next POTUS...you're in.

Your Honor, I rest my case.

-- Posted by layne staley on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 9:25 PM

Let's name our party, The People's Party of Stoddard County

I betcha, and I'm being serious, some of y'all would actually do a whole lot more for our country than some of the jokers we have up there! Can I get a witness? Oh I can't get no help up here!

(Wow that almost sounds like preaching!)

-- Posted by swift on Mon, Jul 21, 2008, at 3:23 PM

As my first move as Attorney General, I will work on the dogfighting problem that is running rampant across the country. And I will also go after steroids in baseball, because while our country should be highly concerned about terrorist militants, we need to stay the course on these very important issues that really don't matter a whole hell of a lot to the American people. Roger Clemens needs to pay people.

I'm layne staley and I like power.

-- Posted by layne staley on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 11:18 PM

Nice.....Will also appoint Dimebag Darrell as D of Ag. In charge of all crops. Staley will actually be my press secretary. Monica will be my intern (Clinton had it going on folks!!!!!, what an American), Cliff Burton will be in charge of transportation, and Bon will be my Secretary of Killing off WalMart.

My name is Shannon Hoon, and I can't stand NObodies who run for a worthless political office and win because no one worth a crap is running against them and then, feeling they have the power and everyone loves them, think they are big stuff.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 7:53 PM

My vote for Hoon also! Staley would make a good attorney general. lol

-- Posted by swift on Fri, Jul 18, 2008, at 3:49 PM

Jim - they aren't that smart. He's just a liberal who can speak well. I'm voting the Hoon/Ducky ticket...those guys are brilliant!

-- Posted by layne staley on Thu, Jul 17, 2008, at 11:52 PM

Osama Obama is most likely a 40+ year plan by Muslim terrorists to become President of the U.S.A. So vote him in you morons! I've got my passport.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Thu, Jul 17, 2008, at 11:42 PM

Don't waste a vote Bon.......If you are going to write in the name of someone who can't win anyway....Write in HOON!!!! I want Wolf Blitzer saying I got .000000000000000000001 of the popular vote and then my butt is demanding that all hanging chads, especially mine, be pulled.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Thu, Jul 17, 2008, at 7:21 PM

I'm not voting for McCain. I'm writing in Ross Perot, and for those about to rock....we salute you!!

-- Posted by BonScott on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 11:38 PM

FJBoy......Obama is just like GW.....screw him. What a piece of crap. GW tore down the World Trade Centers and wanted to go to war. Now he has raised the price of gas to make money for his oil friends. Obama is GW Bush all over.. Screw that. I am voting for McCain.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 11:27 PM

FJGuy - go tell JM's 94 year old mom about his "very real possiblity" of not making it through a term as prez. The guy hiked the Grand Canyon last year.

Kucinich is too far left to be a Democrat, but Paul is legit.

VP candidate for JM should be John Kasich. A fiscal conservative who helped balance the budget during the Clinton era. Can flat get it done.

-- Posted by layne staley on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 9:47 PM

Or because they are both less than desireable by the general public who cast their vote for their choice.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 2:52 PM

Hoon, the New Yorker cover is serving as just one more distraction from the real campaign issue, which is that there might be a dime's worth of difference between McCain and Obama. Obama has come out in favor of retaining if not expanding several of GWB's domestic programs (e.g., No Child Left Behind and faith-based education), and he won't do anything to reduce the U.S.' international presence: His plan is basicly to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Federal spending will continue to expand under either BO or JM. A real, but ignored campaign issue is that because of JM's health there is a very real possibility he wouldn't make it through a single term -- and since it can be expected for his VP to become President, his VP choice should be subjected to the same intense scrutiny as JM. The real Democratic choice -- Dennis Kucinich, and the real Republican choice -- Ron Paul, couldn't get national media face-time precisely because they would have upset the status quo.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 12:44 PM

You can't expect comments made by Obama and his wife over the past year not to receive bad press. That goes for all people in the public eye. When someone says or does something off color the press gets ahold of it and pulls it in 1000 different directions and we all get a good laugh. Bush is the epitomy of satire and noone gets bent out of shape when he is made fun of(for good reason I know...)The only people that are going to take ANY stock in a cartoon like this one are the people that have a hard on for the Obamas anyway. It is not going to change the views of a person that has plans of voting for him or even someone that is entertaining the idea of voting for him. There are plenty of larger problems that need to be focused on, I say if you don't like it don't look at it!

-- Posted by Hillel slovak on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 11:59 AM

Ozzine....Is that the eye drops Ozzie Smith used to use back in the 80's?

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 7:47 AM

hey what the hell lets be fare maybe dave remnick should do a little editorial about himself, a cartoon depicting him as a child molester, but guess what we know he's really not a child molester, right ?

that cartoon depicting obama and his wife as some kind of terrorist was horrible.

-- Posted by ozzinc on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 12:30 AM

Bon - at our church it is ah* men and sometimes a longer, ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhh men.

-- Posted by dimebag darrell on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 12:24 AM

FJ, I thought you seriously meant that the NY had come out with another cover, but that site has cartoons of a different ilk. It's a spoof of the spoof...! That's pretty spoofy. (Oops, Reminds me of my kids' "Smurf" cartoons. "Hi, Papa Smurf! This is really smurfy, isn't it?")

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 8:32 PM

FJBoy: Not sure what controversy Cindy McCain has been involved in which would make her worthy of satire on a mag. cover. Fill me in.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 5:39 PM

I can't believe I didn't notice this until just now! lol

-- Posted by swift on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 4:45 PM

Political cartoons are freedom of speech and politics is part of the deal. And this blog of yours answers my last question on your previous blog about obama.

-- Posted by swift on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 4:44 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I saw where you asked me if I was going to do another political blog. I don't think so - unless one falls into my lap like the last two did. They were just too ridiculous to pass up. Somebody had to write about them - there was just no choice. I'd rather write about light, fluffy topics, but I'll take a walk on the wild side occasionally.

In the interests of being fair and balanced, the following drawing at http://whatnowtoons.com is proposed as The New Yorker's next satirical cover. It shows McCain saluting in a Nazi uniform with a picture of Hitler on the wall and a U.S. flag burning in the fireplace. It is not as outrageous as The New Yorker cover of Obama and his wife -- because it doesn't include McCain's wife.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 2:08 PM

Who would believe all this controversy when the magazine hasn't even hit the stands yet. Oh well. Personally, I love satire, but Ms Madeline is correct, it is often misunderstood. It's like walking on a tight-rope; one misstep and you're toast. The cartoon doesn't offend me because I recognize the satire and realize that it's making extreme fun of what the artist sees as a stupid misbelief. Still, if I had been the editor of the magazine I wouldn't have touched it.

-- Posted by Ducky on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 11:08 AM

ooooooh I, I just died in your arms tonigeeeeht. It must have been something you said.....I just died in your arms toniiieeeeehhhht.

Cutting Crew, but Goat got me side tracked with her cutting edge statement. Sorry.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 10:50 AM

Well put, I.B.

-- Posted by huxgirl28 on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 9:26 AM

Well, yes, if the NY weren't known as a "liberal rag," and they printed such a cover, they'd be villified as a "hate group." Same outcome.

I believe they just fell off the "cutting edge."

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 5:38 AM

Having the right to do something doesn't always mean it is the right thing to do.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 12:12 AM

Long live our ever fading Constitution, God Bless this once great country, and WE WILL rise again. A*Men, or is it AH*MEN.

-- Posted by BonScott on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 11:41 PM

President Barrack Hussein Obama. Got a nice ring to it.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 11:36 PM

Horse crap, they didn't go to far. Who cares? Who does offend? The answer should be nobody. Instead of people having skin as thick as a brick, everybody seems to have skin as thin as one-ply toilet paper. I get so tired of this it makes me want to PUKE! I realize this is a liberal rag, I understand what they are doing, I am not liberal, and I still don't care. But what if it wasn't a liberal rag? Hummmmm.

-- Posted by BonScott on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 11:18 PM

I think it fits...we don't actually know these people, after all. Who's to say this isn't what they are behind closed doors?

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 11:15 PM

I'm with you, gl. I think that they definitely did miscalculate this one...satirical: yes, but also a little too far. CNN can't stop talking about it; everyone is talking about it...which of course is what they want, but many view it as straight up slander. What do you guys think?

-- Posted by huxgirl28 on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 10:11 PM

Our country is way too soft. The fact that we get bent out of shape over little things like this is comical. It would have been funnier if they would have made him look like the second coming to JFK, b/c that is not what he is either.

-- Posted by layne staley on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 10:00 PM

I found when I taught school that satire was usually misunderstood by my students. When we read Brave New World, I had to point out the satire - or they thought Huxley was seriously advocating that everybody be cloned - instead of warning against it. After they once got the hang of it, they could see the satire in the other novels we read, but it didn't usually come naturally.

I think the New Yorker seriously miscalculated this one. However, when you look back over some of their other covers, they can be pretty shocking.

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 9:50 PM

Extreme view of Obama. The New Yorker is actually a liberal rag and is sarcastically saying this is how (hicktown folk like us here in the midwest probably) America views the Barrack Hussein Obamas. I don't know about the machine gun, the Bin Laden photo and the burning flag....but several of the subtle things on the cover are not so far fetched. Barrack Hussein Obama is growing on me...add in the Clintons and this is going to be one of the greatest Presidential teams we have had.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 9:35 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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