Editorial: Cartoons: No laughing matter
Written by Jan Larson McLaughlin Sentinel Editor   
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 09:18
Editor_Jan.4178_story
Jan Larson
McLaughlin
Some cartoons aren’t supposed to make us laugh. Some ask us to think seriously about topics we find uncomfortable — even ugly.
By using a medium often associated with humor, editorial cartoons sometimes slap us in the face with satire.
That was the case last week, when we printed a cartoon showing an apron-clad mother handing a gun to her crying son. She offers the following motherly advice: “That bully at school punched you in the nose? Here you go honey. The next time be sure to aim for the heart. It’s perfectly legal.”
Most readers saw the link between the cartoon and the George Zimmerman trial in Florida. But at least a couple believed the cartoon — and our use of it — encouraged violence in schools.
To me, the cartoon took the opposite stance. It asked readers to examine the way we handle conflict — real or perceived. It suggested that perhaps we ought to stand up for reason rather than being so gung-ho about standing our ground. And maybe we should take a close look at what lessons we are teaching children by not making violence a last resort.
One reader said some young people can’t understand the satire behind the sketch.
To that, I say, what a great opportunity to discuss the issue. The Zimmerman trial has been the topic of several animated discussions around our kitchen table. And if an editorial cartoon can start those conversations, then it has served a purpose.
Some adults may find out that kids are way more advanced when it comes to conflict resolution. In an effort to confront bullying among children, schools across the nation have spent vast amounts of money and hours teaching kids to avoid violence and handle conflict peacefully.
I have to wonder how many school children are looking at the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case and wondering why we adults are saying one thing and doing the opposite.
Good editorial cartoons can make us stop and examine our actions and what they say about us. The last thing they want us to do is laugh at a serious topic like violence.
 

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