It's not unusual for an editorial cartoon to trigger a reaction from its subject, but Chris Britt's cartoon above has unleashed not only a vehement response from local police organizations but also an apparent attempt to get local businesses to stop advertising in the paper.
The Bucks County (Pennsylvania) Courier Times published the nationally syndicated cartoon on Dec. 7, leading to a vehement letter to the editor from John McNesby, head of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, that called it "disrespectful and highly offensive," demanded an apology, and concluded:
There is a special place in hell for you miserable parasites in the media who seek to exploit violence and hatred in order to sell advertisements.
Rest assured that this letter will be distributed to as many residents and businesses in Bucks County as we are able to reach. Here's wishing you a bankrupt New Year.
Other readers complained as well, and in response the newspaper posted a statement by community affairs director Amy Gianficaro that said, in part, "If we had recognized prior to publication that the cartoon would have caused unintended offense, our editors would have selected a different one for Sunday’s newspaper."
Britt, however, defended the cartoon in a letter to Philadelphia magazine, saying,
The apology requested by the FOP from me regarding my cartoon will not be forthcoming. The bully who yells the loudest does not always get his way.
So, to the hotheaded and venomous rant by Mr. McNesby against my cartoon, myself and the media as a whole, I say that his misguided anger and inelegant choice of words only reinforce what many have come to believe - that too many law-enforcement officers view the rest of us with utter disdain. I hope Santa brings Mr. McNesby a stocking full of joy, understanding and humility.
In an apparent attempt to start a boycott, someone has created a Facebook page titled "Standing Up Against BCCT's Attack on Law Enforcement," which lists the local businesses that advertise in the paper with links to their websites. "It is not our intent to encourage financial harm to any business or the local economy for innocently advertising in this paper," says a post by the anonymous administrator. Rather, the purpose of the page is said to be
- to lessen the burden on individuals willing to stand up against this assault on law enforcement by providing a compilation of current known advertisers.
-to notify as many advertisers as possible and alert them to the recent disparaging publication so they can make an informed decision as to where they are placing their future advertising dollars.
We are confident most business owners will be equally outraged at the papers poor judgement and continued arrogance and hostility toward law enforcement. It is our hope they will voice that concern to BCCT. Each proprietor will ultimately decide whether they are comfortable supporting the publication of this cartoon, and the subsequent gain or loss of business exercised by their clientele.
Another post on the timeline suggests setting up another page listing businesses that "stand with Law Enforcement by suspending their support of BCCT."
At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner speculates the page may have been set up by a police insider, and calls that possibility "troublesome," noting, "If suspicions are true, this means someone within the police establishment has created a ready-list of businesses they know are supporting the paper."
(via The Daily Cartoonist)