Thursday, February 02, 2006

Joint Chiefs Send Rare Protest Letter to 'Wash Post' Over 'Reprehensible' Toles Cartoon

By Joe Strupp, Dave Astor and Greg Mitchell
Published: February 01, 2006 4:25 PM ET

A Tom Toles editorial cartoon published in The Washington Post on Monday and on its Web site has drawn a very rare and very strong protest letter to the editors from all six members of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, E&P has learned.

The letter, written on Tuesday, charges that the six military leaders "believe you and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to your readers and your paper's reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who have volunteered to defend this nation, and as a result, have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds. ... As the Joint Chiefs, it is rare that we all put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered."

The Toles cartoon shows a soldier, a quadruple amputee, in a hospital, being visited by a Dr. Rumsfeld who is scribbling on a form. Rumsfeld says, "I am listing your condition as battle hardened." At the bottom a smaller figure of the doctor adds, "I'm prescribing that you be stretched thin. We don't define that as torture."The letter, signed by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Edmund P. Giambastini, Jr., the vice-chairman, and the four other military branch leaders -- and addressed to the Post's managing editor, Philip Bennett -- reveals that they were "extremely disappointed" in the Toles cartoon. "Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon is beyond tasteless," they wrote.

They observed that the paper is "obviously free to address any topic," even use exaggeration. But they added: "While you or some of your readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, we believe you owe the men and women and their families who so selflessly serve our country the decency to not make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices."

Aravosis from AmericaBlog told E&P: "Now that the Joint Chiefs have addressed the insidious threat cartoons pose to our troops, perhaps they can move on to less pressing issues like getting them their damn body armor."

The above italics are mine. Here are my comments to Mr. Aravosis, as I posted on his blog.

I'm all for free press. However, I find your comment to be in as poor taste, as is Tole's cartoon. If you really care about the troops and whether they get their "damn body armor" (as you put it), then maybe you can find away to do it, that it isn't at their expense. Using a quadruple amputee soldier to achieve your goal (which I asssume is to attack conservatives} is beyond inappropriate.
Griz Homepage 02.02.06 - 8:12 am #

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