October 5, 1996 in City

They Have A Right To Be Dead Wrong

By The Spokesman-Review

Poor ol’ Idaho.

It can’t catch a break on the race front.

First, Richard Butler moved in. Then came Randy Weaver. Bo Gritz. The militia movement. And Mark Fuhrman.

They attracted unwanted attention from the national media - and now, from Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

When Trudeau pilloried California Attorney General Dan Lungren this week for ordering the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club bust, Idaho suffered collateral damage. In the strip, Cornell defended the club as “a sanctuary for dying AIDS and cancer patients,” and Zonker wondered: “What country are we living in - Germany? Russia? Idaho?”

Never mind that Idaho has adopted tough anti-racism laws. Never mind that ex-New York mayor David Dinkins once said his metropolis should look to North Idaho for human-rights lessons. Never mind that Coeur d’Alene received a national award in 1987 for fighting bigotry.

Trudeau wasn’t interested in those facts or the possibility that the San Francisco club might be a front for illegal drug sales to minors. His livelihood depends on keeping his strip interesting - even when that means taking a cheap shot at Idaho.

Unfortunately, Lungren rose to the bait.

The California attorney general created a media firestorm by trying to persuade Universal Press Syndicate and newspapers not to run the strip. Or else to publish a side-by-side disclaimer with the comic that states “the known facts” about the Cannabis Buyers’ Club.

Predictably, the media grumbled about “censorship” and circled their wagons around Trudeau. Observed a Sacramento Bee executive: “It is not our business to censor opinion, whether it be from the attorney general or Garry Trudeau.”

He was right, of course.

A newspaper should publish diverse opinions as part of the public debate it fosters. For ideological balance, we run Doonesbury alongside the conservative comic strip, Mallard Fillmore.

Trudeau’s slap at Idaho was over the top, though. Sure, the Gem State has bigots. But so does southern California (former home of Butler and Fuhrman), Chicago (headquarters for Louis Farrakhan) and, yes, New York.

A bigot is “a person who holds blindly and intolerantly to a particular … opinion.”

Sounds like Trudeau and his view of Idaho.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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