We find your cartoon of Dec. 14 distasteful. While we support freedom of speech, this does not extend to the expression of sentiments that promote racism or hate.
The cartoon, in question, depicts two homeless males. One, in a wheel chair, is reading a newspaper ad which reads, “NDP looking for disabled, gay, lesbian, transgender, colour, First Nations or women to run” and he says, “Maybe I’ll run for the NDP…” The second responds, “Don’t be ridiculous! Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean the NDP wants you as a candidate… You’ll require a sex change to qualify.”
Along with our community partners in the Shuswap Inclusion Project, we volunteer considerable hours from our day and spend money for which we are not reimbursed to implement the Embrace BC community program “Organizing Against Racism and Hate.” We have launched school contests to encourage our youth to embrace diversity and to reflect on the pain that is inflicted as a result of discrimination primarily directed at the very groups singled out in this cartoon. It is our hope to reduce the incidence of violence, bullying, verbal abuse, etc. directed at these same minorities. Such abuse often comes in the guise of seemingly innocent humour as in the case of your cartoon.
The only group the cartoonist overlooked skewering in his broadside are the religious minorities.
We are fortunate in Canada and British Columbia to have politicians that are disabled, gay, coloured, First Nations, women or Sikh serving in all political parties and working hard to present a reality different from the stereotype of losers and good outsiders that your cartoon promotes. This is not simply a matter of political incorrectness on your part – an innocent oversight – but one more abuse added to the many similar affronts these individuals encounter daily. For those of us attempting to promote an inclusive community where every individual is encouraged and enabled to achieve their full potential, a media that reflects an image of a community that is tolerant, understanding and respectful is an essential partner.
If this was simply an attempt to belittle the NDP, it is difficult to see how anyone could not have seen that it went well beyond what one might normally accept as fair political banter. We believe a full and unreserved, public apology for your part in not having done so and for the resulting pain experienced is in order.
Shuswap Settlement Services Society – Shuswap Inclusion Project
Editor’s Note: The Morning Star wishes to apologize to anyone offended by the editorial cartoon in question. Readers should also take note that the cartoonist is a woman, not a man as assumed in the letter.