For more than a year, a flock of ruffled readers have cried foul that a right-winged duck named Mallard Fillmore is allowed to nest on the comics page of The Spokesman-Review. Why, they ask, shouldn’t he be penned up on the op-ed page as his liberal counterpart, Doonesbury, was long ago?
The placement of the politically oriented Mallard Fillmore is being looked at, said Editor Chris Peck. If it were to join Doonesbury on the op-ed page, though, there would be tradeoffs.
“If it means squeezing out two letters to the editor every day, I’m not sure that’s a good trade,” said Peck.
Doonesbury appears on The S-R’s opinion pages primarily because syndicated artist Garry Trudeau’s contract requires it to be published in a larger size than the comics page format can handle, Peck noted.
He said there is plenty of historical precedent for political strips on the comics page, from Pogo to an early1900s feature called The Yellow Kid.
“You can have satire and biting commentary,” he said. “Just because it doesn’t have a picture of a kid with a football being pulled away from him doesn’t mean it’s not a comic strip.”
High hyperbole? Priggee gets off a gut shot
“Is it a corporate decision to constantly denigrate gun owners, or is it Priggee’s own little deal?”
That’s what gun owner Terry Frizzell of Chewelah asked after seeing political cartoonist Milt Priggee’s antigun contribution to last Tuesday’s Opinion page.
The answer: It is Priggee’s own little deal. He illustrates his own opinion, not The Spokesman-Review’s.
The Tuesday cartoon contained the words “Don’t legislate, educate” over two drawings of a man and his son. In one drawing the father tells the boy, “Only a stupid person drinks and drives.” In the other he says, “Only a stupid person buys and keeps a gun.”
Frizzell is just one of many gun owners who complained.
Joe Jennings of Spokane said the cartoon implies 85 percent of the people in the Northwest, by his estimate, are stupid, including participants in The SpokesmanReview’s own winter trap-shooting competition and the advertisers who sell firearms, along with their gun-owning customers.
Does Priggee believe, literally, that everyone who owns a gun is stupid?
“Of course not,” the cartoonist said. “There are exceptions to everything. This was a basic illustration of the fact that if there is a gun in your home, you are three times more likely to have a homicide in that house.”
Priggee said he commonly uses exaggeration to make his point.
Priggee said Opinion Editor John Webster, who screens cartoons before they go in the paper, gave this one a longer look than usual.
Said Webster: “Hyperbole’s a risky tool because some take it literally, but it’s useful in a debate as dog-eared as the one about guns. Few of us expect the NRA to apologize for its hyperbole, and I don’t expect Milt Priggee to apologize for his, either.”
, DataTimes MEMO: Hot Buttons is an occasional feature of the Sunday Roundtable page. To comment, from a Touch-Tone phone call 458-8800 (765-8811 in Idaho) and enter category 9866.
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