Since terrorists slaughtered four cartoonists during an attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, I’ve been asked how I feel about continuing to draw political cartoons.
To understand my response, it might help to know that a couple years ago I drew a cartoon about gun control that upset a lot of people. After it was published in the Kansas City Star I was sitting at home when I got a call from the newspaper’s publisher; I needed to leave my house.
The cartoon had started an internet firestorm and the paper was receiving thousands of emails, many of them threatening. Enraged readers had also posted my address and pictures of my house.
All things considered, the newspaper felt it would be wise for me and my family to move to a hotel for a while. It wasn’t the first time I’d been threatened and most of the time, I’ve felt confident that no one was going to follow through on their threats, but — as we’ve seen in Paris — you never know.
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In my mind, the problem is not followers of the Prophet Muhammad or Jesus Christ, or Second Amendment advocates or people who push for tighter gun control, or liberals or conservatives. The problem is extremism.
If you read the Kansas City Star, you know that I’m a liberal and sometimes my liberal friends will complain about the conservative cartoons of Glenn McCoy. That’s fine, but sometimes my friends go too far and say The Star shouldn’t publish Glenn’s work.
I’m not sure I’ve ever agreed with one of Glenn’s cartoons, but I enjoy looking at them. And if I’ve got the right to my opinion, so does he.
If you cherish the right to express your opinion, protect the rights of others.
If you believe that people should not be murdered for their beliefs, promote their right to believe what they like. Believe what you choose, but allow others to disagree.
Because in a world where murder is an acceptable response to a cartoon, we are all Charlie.