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Comic Riffs
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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 01/11/2010

Reader Poll: Is this 'Tea Bag' Party cartoon offensive? (Bill O'Reilly thought so.)

Every time I think political cartoons might be losing even a little of their power to offend mightily -- as long as they don't malign a prophet, a pope, a president or a Palin -- along comes a new 'toon that riles at least hundreds of vocal folk.

The latest case-in-point erupted in recent days over an animated Mark Fiore cartoon ... that was nearly two months old. (Talk about your delayed conflagration.) The cartoon mocks the intelligence of so-called "Tea Party" activists.

NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard recounts the timeline that led from the cartoon getting a mere five comments on its site Nov. 12 to, rather abruptly, more than 1,000 comments by the middle of last week. (By late last Friday, the cartoon's posting on had drawn nearly 1,400 comments.)

Also last week, Bill O'Reilly called the left-leaning Fiore's cartoon "puerile" and "sophomoric." And "not funny." And "stupid." And "unnecessary."

Meantime, Fiore -- who has blogged about the brouhaha -- says he's received death threates over the animation.

There are several hot-button issues being debated, including (1) whether the cartoon is effective satire; (2) whether NPR should hire a right-leaning cartoonist to "balance" Fiore's voice on its site; and (3) just which side is responsible for labeling the activists as the "Tea Bag Party" in the first place, anyway?

For purposes of this blog -- in which we so regularly tackle the effectiveness of political satire -- Comic Riffs will focus on the question: What do you think of this cartoon as satire?

So here's the animated "Learn to Speak Bag" cartoon, and below that, feel free to vote your conscience, your consciousness or even simply your tolerance for Darjeeling-based satire. (Note: You can vote for as many options as you see fit -- or, in the Comments section, can also offer your own term for the cartoon.)


By  |  07:00 AM ET, 01/11/2010

Categories:  The Political Cartoon, The Political Cartoon | Tags:  Mark Fiore, National Public Radio, Political Cartooning

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