Posted by: L. E. Barnes | January 19, 2012

True, Funny, or Bad Taste?

I came across this political cartoon today:

Is this insensitive?

This being an election year, we can expect to see a lot more political mudslinging in the media than we normally would. But does a cartoon such as this one cross the line? Unless you’ve been on a news blackout for the past week, you’ll immediately recognize the above cartoon as having been inspired by the luxury liner that ran aground near Italy, which resulted in several deaths (with some people still unaccounted for) and a potential ecological catastrophe as well. Is this cartoon insensitive, or a legitimate expression of someone’s political views?

A friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook, and someone immediately expressed disgust with it: “Whoever did this has no taste and certainly no respect. They’re still pulling bodies off that ship for crying out loud. There’s plenty of political cannon fodder to pick from out there… I don’t care about the political content. I care about the fact that someone is using a tragedy that’s barely a week old to make a cheap joke.” Others disagreed. For instance, one person said, “And how does this foster disrespect for the dead? I see nothing here but a representation of what we’ve seen in overdrive in the U.S. for the past 3 years…”

Your thoughts?



  1. I’d go with insensitive. And way overboard. I’ve never bought the “the world/USA will END if so-and-so gets elected!” line, whichever side parrots it. The world’s been a mess since day one, and will be till the end of time. It’s Earth, not Heaven.

    • True, no political candidate or party has all the answers or can take all the blame for the problems our country is experiencing. Those who want to make the president, Democrats, or Republicans solely responsible for all our woes have embraced a ridiculously simplistic view of the situation. The real world tends to be much more complex than that.

  2. Had that ship not sunk, I’d have no problem with it–and actually agree with the point it is making; however the ship did sink, so I think it does tend toward the insensitive.

    • I’m not an Obama fan, but I tend to agree that using that recent tragedy to make such a political statement was in bad taste.

  3. I absolutely believe in the political sentiment; but, I do think this particular cartoon is in bad taste. And I’m sure that those who lost loved ones or who have their loved one missing, would think so.

    • I don’t know how much blame can be placed on Obama for the economic, fiscal, and other problems facing our country (though I’m sure he’s partly responsible), but I too feel that the cartoonist here should have chosen a different image to convey his view. After all, what happened to that ship near Italy is hardly a laughing matter.

  4. I agree with those who say it is insensitive. People died. Some people will suffer for years because of the trauma of this event.

    Probably most people outside of the media would see this point of view. However, being married to someone who spent 27 years as a reporter/photographer, I can say that inside the media there is, as in police forces, a type of “black humor” which serves to relieve the stress of the awful things they see every day. Most people would be horrified at the jokes.

    Nevertheless, this cartoonist was out of line to use the event to make political points. Prudence and discernment were absent.

    • Good point. I’m sure those who work in journalism run the risk of becoming jaded, feeling that they’ve seen it all. But that doesn’t excuse disregarding the feelings of others. I wonder if the cartoonist has received any kind of backlash for this picture…

  5. Insensitive.

  6. Harmless political cartoon. Over the decades I’ve seen cartoons using the Alamo, Little Big Horn, Napoleon at Waterloo, and the Titanic.

    • I still lean toward its being in bad taste, but yes, plenty of historical disasters have been used by political cartoonists in similar ways.

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