Editorial: If cartoon offends, then so should Trump

Published 7:01 am Sunday, October 16, 2016

Editor’s note: Graphic, adult language is used in this editorial.

When Riverland Community College was preparing to open “Cabaret” earlier this month, Theatre Director Lindsey Duoos Williams spoke about the play’s adult themes and graphic language that were used for a purpose — not just to offend.

The graphic language and adult themes were employed to inspire theater patrons to think.

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We had this in mind when we decided last Wednesday to run an editorial cartoon, obtained through a wire service, that depicted Republican nominee of President Donald Trump’s graphic words “Grab them by the pussy.” It was just one of the offensive phrases Trump uttered in a leaked video of him talking about being able to “do anything” to women because of his celebrity and wealth.

The cartoon held up Trump’s words against the words of historic leaders: President Abraham Lincoln: “Four score and seven years ago …,” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself …,” and President Ronald Reagan “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

We’ve heard that the use of this editorial cartoon and its uncensored inclusion of Trump’s quote has angered some of our readers.


We’re glad you’re angry. We’re angry too; in fact, that’s why we ran it in the first place — because we don’t believe anyone should condone this behavior or brush it aside.

For those of you living under a rock or trying, understandably, to ignore the 2016 election, we’ll update you: Trump was caught on tape in 2005 talking to Billy Bush, then working for Access Hollywood, about trying to seduce a married woman and how his celebrity status allowed him to grope women without reproach. He subsequently denied ever groping women, but several women have come forward since arguing he touched or kissed them without consent.

Trump’s response has been to call them liars and to threaten to sue them and the New York Times for publishing accounts of these actions (In a win for free speech, the Times brushed off Trump’s threats by saying they’d gladly meet him in court).

We used Trump’s own words to make a simple point: His actions do not measure up the actions of respected leaders. And those words were spoken before he insulted the women accusing him of sexual assault as not being up to his standards — “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” he said at a recent rally.

If you’re offended by us printing Trump’s own words to make this point, you should be more offended that Trump used these words in the first place — and you should be even more frustrated that he continues to brush this issue off as if he’s not to blame for any of what he’s said.

But still, many have been too quick to give Trump a pass for his conduct, despite his apologies continuing to be more combative than genuine. In a public meeting, one local elected official recently called Trump’s behavior a “drop in the bucket” compared to the wrongdoings of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and argued it was being blown out of proportion.

But we argue that when it comes to Trump’s sexist works and alleged conduct, Clinton’s actions and your views about them do not matter.

We are not saying that Clinton’s past should be ignored; we’re not even making a case for how you cast your vote. We’re arguing that voters — especially Republicans and those supporting Trump’s campaign — should demand better of their candidate. It’s high time he act apologetic for his words, his actions and move on to focus on issues.

Voters have every right to question Clinton’s past actions and decisions and judge them as greater than, less than or comparable to Trump’s actions and behavior. But that should not serve as a free pass to Trump’s sexist remarks and alleged misconduct.

Another excuse of Trump supporters is to argue that Clinton broke the law in the course of her email and the Benghazi scandals, not to mention alleged misconduct through the Clinton Foundation.

However, Trump is accused of groping and kissing women without their consent — which would also be breaking a law and he also faces accusations of questionable dealings at Trump University and through his income taxes.

Just like Clinton, Trump is simply accused of breaking the law. Neither has been convicted.

So at best, we’re stuck with two candidates accused of serious wrongdoing, and neither should get a pass because of the other.