'Boondocks' Comic Strip Crosses Line, Lawyer Says
(CNSNews.com) - A "Boondocks" comic strip featuring "radical scholar and future voice of Black America Huey Freeman" went too far when the fictional character said conservative activist Ward Connerly should be beaten with a spiked bat, Connerly said in a letter to the strip's publisher. Connerly is also black.
"There's a line between open and honest discussion, and a death threat," said Connerly, a California lawyer and one of the nation's leading critics of affirmative action and media bias, in an interview with CNSNews.com.
In the September 12 strip, "Boondocks" author Aaron McGruder also called Connerly a "boot-licking Uncle Tom."
The best cartoons occasionally offend some people because they expose difficult issues, like race relations, "but the publication of Aaron McGruder's death threat - 'Ward Connerly Should Be Beaten by Raekwon the Chef With a Spiked Bat, A Critical Look at Black Conservatives' - crossed the line," Connerly said.
Connerly protested the reference in a letter to John McMeel, president of Universal Press Syndicate, which publishes the strip in 200 newspapers nationwide.
"It is the height of irresponsible journalism to foment hate and violence in the Sunday comics to reach impressionable young people who are bombarded these days with news of the Columbine High School shootings and 'hate crimes,'" Connerly wrote.
The United Press Syndicate had not responded to Connerly's letter on Monday, and CNSNews.com calls to UPS for comment were not returned.
Noting the country's almost exclusive focus on guns as the basic problem behind a recent rash of violence in schools, synagogues, and workplaces, Connerly said the strip raised an obvious question: "Isn't the person who suggests or otherwise condones the use of guns (or other instruments such as spiked bats) as a way to resolve our differences more responsible for violence than the weapons themselves?"
"As a public figure, I have carefully crafted a principled stand that, as John F. Kennedy said, 'race has no place in American law or life,'" Connerly said. "I invite those who disagree with my views to confront me in the marketplace of ideas. Instead, my opponents have too often tried to win with isolation, slander and even violence."
"It's more than just an example of the deterioration of the culture when people feel free to use language like that," Connerly told CNSNews.com. "It's also an example of the hypocritical double standard of the mainstream media, who are fiercely trying to push gun control, which of course they have every right to do.
"But when they see something like this, and obviously they've seen it, they don't respond to it because I am politically incorrect. If it had been anybody other than me, who happens to be brown skinned, they would be outraged, I'm sure. But in this case they just ignore it, and that's what I find so infuriating. It's a double standard," Connerly said.
Connerly rejected the notion that McGruder could be excused if his intent was satire.
"I think he can be satirical without resorting to the suggestion of using a spiked bat," he said. "That's a death threat. I don't know of many people who would survive a beating from a spiked bat. I don't think that puppy will hunt. If that was his intent, there are a number of other ways he could have accomplished that."
"I hope that UPS does the right thing and does more than slap [McGruder's] wrist and suggest that he tone it down. The executive editor of the Sacramento Bee told me this crosses the line and he would register a formal complaint. But he said the result will probably be that they will suggest that he tone it down. Well, thanks a lot," Connerly said.