The Washington Post

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.”


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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