RICK PERRY CONTROVERSY: Houston cartoonist Nick Anderson responds to dust-up over fertilizer-plant cartoon

NOW A TEXAS CARTOONIST has weighed in on the Ohman/Perry controversy.

Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer-winning political cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, rendered his commentary Tuesday, in which Texas Gov. Rick Perry is depicted as getting more outraged over a cartoon — by Sacramento Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman — than the actual oversight and regulation issues involving the West, Tex., fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing at least 15 and injuring scores more.

Last Thursday, Ohman drew a cartoon that criticized Perry’s pro-business stance that involves lower regulations, tying the governor’s approach to the explosion. In a Letter to the Editor of the Bee published the next day, Perry called Ohman’s cartoon a “detestable attempt at satire” and demanded an apology; the newspaper has not apologized.

Asked to share the thinking behind his cartoon, Anderson tells Comic Riffs: “I just have a question: Why do people seem more offended by a cartoon than they are by the lax regulatory climate that likely contributed to or even caused this tragedy?

“Jack’s cartoon was clearly motivated by a desire to protect life, not to mock the loss of life that is more likely in an atmosphere of open hostility to government regulation.”

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Anderson’s Houston Chronicle cartoon skewering Gov. Rick Perry’s reaction to the Jack Ohman cartoon. (Used by permission of NICK ANDERSON/.)

On Tuesday, Barbara Boxer, as head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that her panel will “hold a hearing in the near future’ on the disaster and will probe whether there are any gaps in the enforcement of U.S. chemical-safety laws,” according to Reuters.

In Texas, a state House committee was scheduled to hold a hearing today on the explosion.

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists industry group issued a statement expressing support for Ohman. Texas’s lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, reportedly urged that the Bee fire Ohman.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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