19 January 2006

A Letter to the Editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader

Here's a nasty little cartoon:




I didn't like it. In fact, I didn't like it a lot, so I wrote the Editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader a letter.
Sir,
The cartoon you printed on 17NOV was not a political commentary; it was vandalism, appreciated only by the same crowd who think that religious symbols covered in urine and dung somehow constitute art.
You should be ashamed for having printed such puerile filth, and poorly drawn filth at that. If you insist on sinking to this level, it could at least have some talent behind it.
Yes, I am a Republican. No, I would not find value in sick jokes which tear and strain to link Democrat policies with cannibalism and the grisly practices (live beheading) of our enemy. If you doubt that al-Zarqawi and his minions are your personal enemy, I suggest you travel there and ask him yourself. And if you go, please take that disgusting cartoonist with you. He can interpret for you. He speaks their language.
Sincerely,
Haakon B. Dahl, LT USNR
Yokosuka, Japan

Note that I wrote that letter to the EDITOR of the paper, not to the cartoonist. What happened then? I received an answer from the cartoonist himself, who is presumably not also the Editor in such an auspicious paper as the Lexington Herald-Leader.[SEE UPDATE BELOW] I therefore consider this correspondance to have been made public. Accordingly, this is the "letter" I received from the cartoonist via e-mail:

sorry you didn't like the cartoon....i don't really understand your angry response...it seemed like a run-of-the-mill anti-cheney toon to me....everyone has their opinion.....thnx for your service and happy holidays!
joel pett

I didn't write to the cartoonist, I wrote to the Editor. I expected that my letter would be printed, responded to, or summarily ignored, and I confess that the last option is the one I most expected. I did not expect my criticism of (an employee? a contractor?) to simply be forwarded to that person for disposition. I ask the reader, Does your business work like that? Why not?
I did not expect the cartoonist to be able to "really understand" my "angry response". That's why I didn't write to the cartoonist. I can tell by the quality and content of the cartoon itself that the cartoonist will not understand the point I am making, or he would never have penned that foul little cartoon!
No, I wrote to the Editor of the paper in the same fashion in which one may complain to the manager of restaurant where one has been insulted by a wayward employee. Because the "author" did not attempt to write in English, I will not criticize his grammar, and while I may or may not appreciate the sentiment he attempts to express in his last "sentence", depending on just what the sentiment is, I find it hard to accept his thnx for my service. Really, I don't wish to seem ingracious in accepting thnx, but what is the correct response? ur wlkm? I just can't do it.
So assuming that "thnx" means "thank you" in this case, as opposed to the sound one might make when afflicted with congestion, I find that to be the one "sentence" with which I do not take issue. Would you say that the first sounds less than true? That the second is manifestly obvious? That the third is disingenuous? That is, if the cartoon is "run-of-the-mill", does the cartoonist expect to get paid for it? In the fourth sentence, he tries to be mealy-mouthed, but fails even in this as his grammar is not up to the task.
And that's it. I have not re-addressed my initial complaint; that has gone ignored in the original letter. And I have posted the cartoon here without permission; I do not fear a letter from their lawyers, but rather would welcome such a thing--any response not written with a crayon would be better than what I have gotten to date. Besides, I assert that this is Fair Use.
If I had wanted to engage in this sort of note-passing, I would have written to the cartoonist. Furthermore, I would have sent him a crudely drawn picture rather than go to all the trouble of writing an actual letter. I cannot bring myself to communicate in little ellipsis-separated snippets, completely devoid of any capitalization. Perhaps we all speak like this from time to time, and it is certainly not a matter of life and death whether or not some prescriptive grammar is followed. What has me so exercised is the utter and surpassing laziness, not even thinly veiled behind a form letter. This is laziness on parade, a militant apathy. And do not forget, this is the response garnered by a letter to the Editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

thnx 4 nthng.




UPDATE: Thanks to LGF reader and blogger J.D. , I learned that Mr. Joel Pett is indeed "on the editorial board" of this paper. My earlier qualms about private correspondance, however, are gone. This was a letter to the Editor, obviously for publication. I intended that my letter be published; I intended any response to be published. This is the way of letters to the Editor--nothing has changed. A paper's refusal to print criticism or its own weak-kneed response does not make the criticism or response private correspondance.

But what of Mr. Pett and the paper? Is this the best cartoon the paper could come up with? Is the Lexington Herald-Leader a little tight for cash, and has it asked an editor to fill in as a cartoonist? Editorial cartoons are the sort of thing many people would like to do, even for free. One need not suddenly add it to the job description of an obviously overworked and hurried Editor--look what happens to the quality!

So Mr. Joel Pett writes the editorials (?), prioritizes the news to be printed (?) and also pens the cartoons? Is he a man of such talent that more than three hundred people pay to read his writing, share his priorities, and chuckle at his vandalism? He must be an imposing figure. We shall try to find pictures of this man. Stay tuned.


Michelle Malkin has posteda Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post from no less than the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are not happy with a different cartoon. I will run a side-by-side of the responses when the WaPo responds.

4 comments:

J.D. said...

YEA! YOU BROUGHT BACK THE CARTOON!
Do you mind if I pass along a link to it?
J.D.

Haakon B. Dahl said...

J.D., not only do I not mind if you link to this blog/post, I would be grateful! Thnx!

J.D. said...

I would be delighted!

J.D. said...

Heeerrre's Joel!
http://editorialcartoonists.com/
cartoonist/profile.cfm/PettJ/