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The Comics: Serious Business

Saturday, October 23, 2004; Page A21

I was shocked by your paper's decision to run the "Boondocks" cartoon in your Comics section of Oct. 16.

Imagine my surprise over my Saturday morning coffee when my 6-year old son said, "Uh-oh, President Bush is in trouble!" "Why?" I asked. "Because," he answered, "he's doing that finger thing that you say is a bad thing to do." That's when I went to the comics and read Aaron McGruder's strip, which intimated that the president "flipped the bird" at Sen. John Kerry during the first debate.

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While I respect the cartoonist's right to express his political opinions, I found the cartoon exceptionally offensive -- particularly because it was run in the one section of the newspaper geared toward children. The Post wouldn't print that particular four-letter word in an article; why would it print a visual representation of it? The cartoonist's weak attempt to disguise the offensive finger gesture fooled no one, not even my 6-year-old son.

My parents taught me that people resort to profanity because they're too dumb to express their ideas intelligently in English. I guess we know where Aaron McGruder stands on that spectrum.

-- Robin K. Myers

Stafford

The Post's decision not to run "Boondocks" during the week of Sept. 19 was paternalistic in the worst of ways. Yes, some people would have been offended by the strip -- but that is precisely the point. The fact that McGruder is willing to be cutting-edge and, at times, to cross the line is the reason why "Boondocks" is one of the few comic strips that I bother to read -- and I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling.

Although it is easy to understand your editors' worry about running controversial comics in the middle of a page full of strips aimed at children, history is replete with proof that censorship is never the answer. Furthermore, there are obvious solutions here. For example, few would object if your editors were to move "Boondocks" to the op-ed page or to Page 3 of the Style section. But the decision not to run the strip at all, and not even to mention the censorship of it, was insulting to your readers -- not to mention stupid, as it was easily available online.

-- David Gossett

Washington


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