Cartoonist Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader has responded to outraged fans who have cancelled their subscriptions, fired off angry emails, and voiced threats over his May 8 cartoon about Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. In his response, released on May 13, 2012, by the website of the Herald-Leader, Mr. Pett discussed the issue, then closed with an irony:
For all the demands that I apologize, what I really regret is that of all the subjects we cover--in news, editorials and cartoons--UK basketball is the only one, with the possible exception of the you're-with-us-or-the-terrorists Iraq war, that has inspired this level of genuine outrage and passion.
A further irony: Joel Pett issued his response following his return from Washington, D.C., and a meeting with the Cartoonists Rights Network International. Attendees at the meeting discussed cartoonists who have been beaten and threatened with death by foreign dictators and about newspapers that have been bombed by terrorists, all because of drawings on paper. The website of NBC Sports' College Basketball Talk also weighed in on the controversy, attempting to put it all in perspective by writing, "As much as we all love the games and the bragging rights that come with them, at the end of the day they’re just that: games." You might similarly say that cartoons are just funny pictures, yet time after time they have shown themselves to be a powerful force and a continuing threat to those who would practice violence, oppression, corruption, and graft.
Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley