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   Undertoad  Thursday Mar 7 01:29 PM

3/7: Ted Rall's "Terror Widows" cartoon



I like Ted Rall, and I've bought one of his books, but I agree with the folks who say he went over the line on this one, which was retracted by the NY Times.

Rall is entitled to a mistake if he agrees he made one, but I haven't heard his own take on the whole thing. He hasn't said anything on his website .



dave  Thursday Mar 7 01:33 PM

People will deal with the grief in various ways. Many of them need to get over it. They do that by returning to normal - such as complimenting someone on their bitchin' tie. It's kind of disappointing, I guess, to see someone making fun of it. I don't think he'd be drawing that cartoon if he lost someone this past fall...



hairdog  Thursday Mar 7 01:57 PM

Rall did not apologize for the cartoon. He told CNN that "I've done a few lousy cartoons in my time that I'd love to take back, but this isn't one of them."



dave  Thursday Mar 7 02:01 PM

DAMMIT! Beat me to the punch

http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/News....ap/index.html



Clutz  Thursday Mar 7 03:52 PM

Free Speech

You can't sanction a "little" free speech.
Anyone can accept content which they agree with, but the concept of freedom and an individuals right to free speech is the tolerance of that which we don't agree.

Personnally i think it's a cheap shot at the families, and do not agree with the comedic manor it was presented. But at least Ted has the stones to stand behind his view, rather than apologizing for something he obviously believes.



dave  Thursday Mar 7 04:14 PM

No one's being intolerant. The New York Times simply does not want to suffer the backlash of running this cartoon. Remember - Congress shall make no law to infringe on the freedom of speech. That doesn't mean that the newspaper has to run his cartoon.

I'm all for free speech, but some of it is going to be in bad taste. I can understand this cartoon, even if I don't condone it. However, it's still pouring the proverbial salt on a pretty big wound.

I have a rule that I try to stand by, and I wish others would do the same: If you're going to make fun of others, fine - but make fun of something that they can control. It's no fun being made fun of for something that you have no control over. Case in point: I am not slim. I don't care if you call me fatso or tubby or <b>whatever you want</b> that has to deal with something I have control over, but I would be a bit more if you started poking fun at the fact that I am half blind after being shot in the face 6 1/2 hears ago.

No matter what pain I may feel from people saying things like "Hey, Blind man!" and calling me "cyclops", it's nothing in comparison to the <b>grief</b> that losing a loved one surely brings. Over 3,000 innocent civilians were murdered on 9/11, and the plight of those that loved them is, in two words, <b>not funny</b>. It's simply not, and anyone that lost someone would agree.

Notice the jab at Daniel Pearl in the cartoon - "Of course it's a bummer that they slashed my husband's throat - but the worst was having to watch the Olympics alone!" - does anyone find that funny? Can that be funny at all? Imagine the suffering that Marianne Pearl is enduring right now - knowing that she will have to raise her child without a father, knowing that the man that she loved had his throat cut, was decapitated, and his dead body stabbed numerous times by his captors. She will, over the course of her life time, think about how her husband felt during the last moments of his life - and it will eat her up inside.

Here's this asshole making fun of that.

I'm all about free speech, but I've got no problem with this offensive cartoon getting pulled from a private publication. If he had to deal with the pain and suffering that those who lost loved ones are going through and will continue to experience, he wouldn't have drawn that cartoon.

I'm all about free speech, but I won't make excuses for shit like this.



hot_pastrami  Thursday Mar 7 04:56 PM

dhamsaic: Amen, brother.

Hot Pastrami



jaguar  Thursday Mar 7 06:15 PM

hmmm.
It certainly is black humour, but he does have a point to make. I find the woman who called the 5 MILLION dollars she got in compensation for her husband who died in the towers a "sick joke" (becuase it was too small) even more offensive. He's not so much making fun of the victims as thier reactions, some of which have been pretty damn disgusting. Good on him by standing behind it either way.

As for NYT not publishing it, i guess considering thier audiance it wasen't a bad move, at the same time, media publications have to show some guts every now and then.

*ducks for cover*



dave  Thursday Mar 7 07:13 PM

I guess it never occurred to you that maybe "compensation" for losing a loved one is a "sick joke" because it doesn't begin to compensate for her husband?

There's a difference betgween showing some guts and publishing useless, offensive material. See the opinion piece Fox ran earlier today about the SSSCA (on Slashdot's front page) for showing some guts. This is nothing of the sort. I agree with you that the media should be free to publish what it wants and should show some guts sometime, but his cartoon isn't "guts".



jaguar  Thursday Mar 7 08:04 PM

So....30million would make up for her husband? 100million? Please, if you die in a drive by shooting your SO gets roughly 10 grand, she should she got anything at all for crying out loud.



dave  Thursday Mar 7 08:07 PM

You are missing the point, jag. It's not about how much money - it's about the notion that having money eases the suffering at all.



Griff  Thursday Mar 7 08:23 PM

dh is right however I know tubby and you my friend are no tubby.

http://www.emusic.com/aasearch.html?...l_art&id=10504



sleemanj  Thursday Mar 7 09:00 PM

Re: 3/7: Ted Rall's "Terror Widows" cartoon

Quote:
Originally posted by Undertoad

I like Ted Rall, and I've bought one of his books, but I agree with the folks who say he went over the line on this one, which was retracted by the NY Times.

Rall is entitled to a mistake if he agrees he made one, but I haven't heard his own take on the whole thing. He hasn't said anything on his website .
Living well outside of the US I can see where he is coming from.

At night here in NZ around 12pm we get to see the ABC news broadcast on one of our free to air channels. For MONTHS after 9/11, infact pretty much still now, you could garauntee that there will be something about 9/11 on the show - often some grieving person. Wah wah wah. People die every day, many horrifically, what makes these people so special that they get 5 mins of fame because of it. You don't see "Mabel, your husband died of a brain tumor yesterday, the pain you feel now must be just unbearable." - no of course not but is her suffering less than that by any of the 9/11 bereaved ?!

And for those that ask for compensation from airlines, or airports or whoever - jeez, can anybody say gold digger. I'm lucky to live in a country where suing somebody or something is a very rare occurance, infact it is not possible in this country to sue for damages resulting from an accident (we are compensated by the government for accidents). Frankly - we are much better off without it.

It's black humor people, and most of us live in a free nation where a person is entitled to say what they think which includes black humor. If you don't like it - move to china.

It's *never* a mistake to speak (or draw in this case) your mind (unless of course you're speaking it to some 7ft behemoth while standing within arms reach :-)).

(Edit : removed image .. doh.)


jtm  Thursday Mar 7 09:20 PM

The cartoon rings a bit true

Hall is ridiculing the "gold-diggers" among the widowers, not all of them. The distinction isn't obvious, hence the offensiveness, but clearly there are some widowers who are more mercenary than others, and they deserve the ridicule.

Almost 3000 people died Sep 11, leaving behind MANY widows and families. Do you believe that ALL of them are good human beings with no greed?



dave  Thursday Mar 7 10:37 PM

No. But it's offensive to the pain of those who are truly suffering right now and don't want money.



elSicomoro  Thursday Mar 7 10:56 PM

I'm alright with it...I didn't find it particularly offensive or humorous. It was just a comic. We knew the day would come when someone would poke fun at this situation. (In fact, Count Zero posted some stuff regarding it shortly after the attacks.) I can appreciate it b/c I make fun of damned near everything, including 9/11.



xant  Friday Mar 8 02:15 AM

Re: The cartoon rings a bit true

Quote:
Originally posted by jtm
Hall is ridiculing the "gold-diggers" among the widowers, not all of them. The distinction isn't obvious, hence the offensiveness, but clearly there are some widowers who are more mercenary than others, and they deserve the ridicule.

Almost 3000 people died Sep 11, leaving behind MANY widows and families. Do you believe that ALL of them are good human beings with no greed?
I noticed other people were missing this distinction -- "Terror Widows", e.g. those that take advantage of the national spotlight, vs. terror widows, e.g. those whose SO's died and do not want to be on TV.

I'm a longtime Rall fan myself, and my first impression of this cartoon was that it was more offensive than usual. Then I realized that the reason everyone was missing the point, and what made this cartoon a bit over the line, was the fact that Rall himself doesn't make the distinction anywhere in the cartoon.

The whole problem with discussions like this appearing in news media is that for most people, the first impression of Rall they get will be someone saying he's insensitive or offensive. Yeah, he is, but there's more to it than just that. Fans who've been exposed to him before can see that this cartoon is only a bit beyond his normal stuff, and even that's debatable. So you won't get unbiased argument, you'll get the rhetoric of "who allows this sort of filth to be printed?" And sure, if this was my only view of TR, I'd probably think the same thing. But unlike Howard Stern, who is intelligent and funny but loses points for going out of his way to use his offensiveness as a weapon, TR does an end run around offensiveness to get to his point, and should be given credit for that. Even if he does get tackled by it occasionally.


jeni  Friday Mar 8 02:44 AM

you cannot possibly justify a comment like this one:

"of course it's a bummer that they slashed my husband's throat, but the worst was having to watch the olympics alone."

even in a cartoon, by saying "oh, that's how he is normally." just because the cartoonist was always borderline offensive doesn't take away that said comment was made in bad taste. horrible taste, in my opinion.

the rest of the cartoon was not specific enough to seriously bother me, but that box was. why? because it's very evident who the cartoonist is referring to. you can't tell me that there is any doubt in your mind there, really.

the bits about money keeping the woman warm and the whole tie thing, yes, i agree that those were in bad taste, but at least they weren't specific enough to suggest that a single person said those things.



Slight  Friday Mar 8 05:18 AM

The cartoon portrays a truth. Ted boils it down until it's far too thick for you pansies to handle. I don't think the cartoon is funny; the humor could be better. But it does show what is wrong with the strange things that bereaved people say on TV. Thats what he mean when he says "... the scourge of the media."

I don't care who does or does not print it because that is beside the point. The question you all are stabbing at is: is it offensive? Sure it is, to people who think from their hearts. But if you had half a brain you see it is simply dark humor on a hard subject. He is not making light of their losses.

Now I will justify something for jeni. The line: "of course it's a bummer that they slashed my husband's throat, but the worst was having to watch the olympics alone." is a stronger parphrase of: "I am devestated that they murdered my husband. .... What I miss the most is that we both loved figure skating and we never missed watching the winter olympics together" He's simply pointing out what strange things widows can be construed as saying.



jaguar  Friday Mar 8 07:30 AM

I think the throat slashing one was a bit harsh to say the least but the rest was justified.



Griff  Friday Mar 8 08:25 AM

I am a free speech "absolutest". Rall has every right to point out something we've all noticed but have decided to leave alone. Having opened the discussion, he has to be willing to take the heat (and I expect he is), because everyone else has the same right. To me, the real terror widows are the whores in the media who stick a microphone in the face of someone who is unable to deal with loss in what most of us see as an acceptable manner. I won't stop them from doing it but I won't watch it either.

The media censor themselves every day in their desire to provide content to their readers or listeners, without alienating them. If Rall wants his cartoon published he has to find (and has found) an outlet willing to take the heat, thats the beauty of letting the markets for content decide who or what gets heard, especially in the internet era. By extension, this why government should not be in the content business, whether its media or museums it gives unnatural weight, to ideas which may be of limited value, by using confiscated money rather than money exchanged. More important stories than this one get swept under the rug but as long as its not the force of government doing the sweeping, I have no arguement with it. I say let the "pansies" choose their own content.

I find it refreshing that people still feel protective of the 911 victims, hopefully our empathy will also be extended to the victims of our empires terror.



dave  Friday Mar 8 10:03 AM

<b>sleemanj</b> - I agree with you that the media is beating a dead horse, but I understand why they're doing it. Yes, people die every day. <b>But</b>... death by heart attack is normal. Death by brain tumor is normal. Even war is normal - isn't there always someone fighting? But 19 men hijacking four airliners and crashing them into what were once the tallest buildings in the world, along with the headquarters of the United States military and a field in Pennsylvania... well, that's pretty fucking far from normal. Hence the news coverage.

<b>Slight</b> - Whereas once I had a relatively high opinion of you, I don't any longer. If <b>you</b> had half a brain, you would be able to comprehend my argument, which is this: I can see how his cartoon could be considered offensive, especially when printed in the <b>New York</b> times, and therefore, I have no problem with it being pulled.

Quote:
He's simply pointing out what strange things widows can be construed as saying.
...and you know this how? I believe that the cartoon is open to many different interpretations, and his intent cannot be known without him saying it. Sure, it could be that he's poking fun at what strange things come out of peoples' mouths sometimes. It could <b>also</b> be, as the last cell suggests, that he is poking fun at SO's of victims whoring the memory of their lost ones for money. Many people, both for and against the cartoon, got that impression. Which one is it? How do we know? We probably don't.

In the mean time, how about cutting the condescending attitude? This place has been a lot nicer since a few of us stopped with it, and we certainly don't need you to start it back up.


jeni  Friday Mar 8 03:32 PM

Quote:
He's simply pointing out what strange things widows can be construed as saying.
no, he is making a definite reference to daniel pearl.

my point is that while i think the rest of the cartoon is in bad taste as well, AT LEAST you cannot pinpoint a specific person while reading the boxes. those could apply to hundreds of people, but do not suggest that any single person actually thought or spoke those words.

however there is NO DOUBT AT ALL in my mind that in that one box, he was talking about daniel pearl. i'm sure you'll agree that he was talking about daniel pearl, yes?

and i think it's horrible to poke fun at one specific person in such a way. i highly doubt that his wife had any thoughts like that, and it's horrible to say that she did. give me a fucking break, she is pregnant with his child, that is HORRIBLE.


Slight  Friday Mar 8 10:02 PM

Quote:
In the mean time, how about cutting the condescending attitude? This place has been a lot nicer since a few of us stopped with it, and we certainly don't need you to start it back up.
I agree. I am sorry for the attitude.
Quote:
Slight - Whereas once I had a relatively high opinion of you, I don't any longer. If you had half a brain, you would be able to comprehend my argument, which is this: I can see how his cartoon could be considered offensive, especially when printed in the New York times, and therefore, I have no problem with it being pulled.
I did not know anyone had an opinion of me so that I screwed that up is too bad. The internet makes you faceless. I see how it is offensive and have no problem with it being pulled either, and I never did. But you could also see that it given my take on it, it is not offensive. From the perspective of "Those poor inocent people that died" sure its a piece of crap but I just don't usually read things from the heart because I am heartless bastard.
Quote:
i'm sure you'll agree that he was talking about daniel pearl, yes?
obviously I agree that he is refrencing Daniel Pearl. What is wrong with that? I suppose special consideration should be given since she had to go through weeks of worry. So then she should not read this. If she reads the New... Holy shit that is why the NYT did not print it. Sorry I am slow. anyway she won't see this cartoon if all she reads is the NYT. How is the cartoon any skin off your back? You are not carring his baby.


MaggieL  Friday Mar 8 11:27 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by dhamsaic
If <b>you</b> had half a brain, you would be able to comprehend my argument...In the mean time, how about cutting the condescending attitude?...
:-)


jeni  Saturday Mar 9 12:56 AM

Quote:
How is the cartoon any skin off your back? You are not carring his baby.
you're right, but i think that what she has to go through is horrible. and i think the cartoonist could have given her a break because he is pinpointing her. he is saying that is something SHE would say. in all of the other boxes, like i said, he wasn't being person-specific. but he was in that box, and i don't think she deserves to be labeled that way, because i'm SURE she isn't thinking the words that the cartoonist drew her saying.


Nothing But Net  Saturday Mar 9 02:08 AM

Actually, when I first read the strip, I didn't think of Daniel Pearl at all. I thought it was referring to one of the airline passengers killed by the hijackers.

Maybe I'm slow. But I must admit the strip makes some valid points, regardless of how cruelly rendered.



dave  Saturday Mar 9 12:44 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by MaggieL

:-)
That was the whole point - I was using his words, not mine. But no further gripe. I don't mind someone disagreeing. Just trying to keep the peace.


Undertoad  Friday Mar 15 12:34 PM

In a piece in today's Salon , one such "Terror Widow" puts perfect perspective on the strip as she responds to it:

"Go ahead: Read the hype, but don't believe it. Those of us who were wounded to the core by this tragedy are sad and angry and frequently lost. But we are not ungrateful opportunists who have welcomed the death of loved ones as an opportunity to get rich. That person is Ted Rall, and I pity him, more than anything else."



Nic Name  Friday Mar 15 12:42 PM

Tom Tomorrow's thoughtful comments, in posts to his weblog dated March 14 & 15, also reference that Salon article.



middlefunger  Friday Mar 15 02:04 PM

Some perspective

I never really get tired of harping this point, but, isn't it great that we get to bitch about this cartoon, and that the cartoon gets to exist at all?

More on topic,
Jeni: yes, its terrible that Daniel Pearl's wife is being badgered specifically. It is a terrible tragedy that his child has to grow up without its natural father. However, his wife (I'm sorry, I don't know her name) chose to put herself in the spotlight of America. With that choice, she has to accept the good and the bad. I personally saw her three times and three different news outlets (admittedly, they are all basically the same channel with different faces on them). If she didn't want the criticism, she should not have gone on national television. Whether the nastiness is good or not, it is a part of the modern American spotlight, and she should know it.

Finally, on the subject of the humorousness of the piece itself. I enjoyed it. Strangely enough, Robert Heinlen had some good words of wisdom regarding this kind of work (I'm pretty sure he lifted it from somewhere else, but, I don't know where):
"We laugh, because we dare not cry."
Terrible things happen to good people all the time. The best way to cope and make ourselves think about tragedy (certainly the easiest, at a minimum) is to make a joke about it. Sure, it might be in poor taste, but, that is how alot of us deal with it.



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