(Above: Ted Rall's cover to this week's Pasadena Weekly.)
The Pasadena Weekly editor goes on record about the police asking him to drop Ted Rall's anti-cop editorial cartoons.
When I first wrote about this, ten days ago, I was one of the few colleagues who were publicly calling for cartoonists not to remain silent. I'm glad to see that others have now joined in, as well as the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists.
It's an admittedly odd story. Here's some background:
Being fired is something millions of people have had happen to them, and it's usually just the boss, the security guard and you that are involved in that fateful day.
"When your boss later writes in the LA Times that you are a liar, and that the Los Angeles Police Department has proved it -- and THAT is why you were fired, well, that's different. You've been humiliated publicly by one of the biggest newspapers in the country. And with the support of the LAPD.
"Ted Rall, who is maybe the most divisive political cartoonist of the day, was fired last month by the LA Times. Why? Because he wrote a column about being ticketed for jaywalking 14 years ago. (Ted writes as well as draws for the LA Times.) The LAPD said that Rall's version of the 2001 arrest was wrong and then produced an audiotape of the incident. (Yes, even in 2001, people were being recorded without their permission/knowledge.)
"Nicholas Goldberg, the Times editorial page editor, wrote"'An audiotape of the encounter recorded by the police officer does not back up Rall’s assertions; it gives no indication that there was physical violence of any sort by the policeman . . .'"
The audio tape, which was 20 minutes long and mostly static, was tampered with and/or spliced, said audio experts that were hired by Ted after the fact. The LA Times never vetted the tape with an outside source before he was fired.
I still see people who say that Ted Rall has gone too far and deserves what's coming. Ted is a divisive cartoonist.
This is, of course, completely wrong.
When the police collude with the media to destroy a cartoonist, it should be big news. The tepid reaction is a surprise and a disappointment.
From Ted's site today:
"Even after the Assocation of American Editorial Cartoonists issued a formal statement calling for an investigation of the LA Times’ firing of me as a favor to the LAPD because I criticized police brutality, I found it difficult to get support from, well, everybody. Because one of the defining aspects of satire is that, eventually, you end up making fun of everyone. Who end up hating you."
Another thought from ANewDomain:
"Does the fact that a big chunk of The Los Angeles Times is now owned by Oaktree Capital, an investment firm that itself is powered by billions in investment from the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension Fund, have anything to do with this?"
My story: I have met Ted a number of times, at a National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend and at the Small Press Expo. We always shook hands and chatted. It was always very cordial. I don't do editorial cartoons myself, but I respect what he does. I have bought several of his books with my own money.
I know there are other people out there who do not like him. I don't really know why (Like Mack White writes, "I don't have a dog in this fight."), and that's not my point. It's about the next fight.
Who will the police or the politicians come after next? What editor will they convince to not only fire another cartoonist or writer -- but also publicly humiliate them with a damning editorial in their publication? This kind of collusion of power to go after creative people is not tolerable and not what this country is about.
Your silence -- whether you are a cartoonist or a regular person -- says this is OK.
Ted will be on the Project Censored radio show, which is carried by Pacifica, at 1pm today.