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Newspaper cartoon causes fiesta flak

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A recent political cartoon published in The Oklahoman is drawing as much heat as a wildfire during a burn ban.

Chip Bok's syndicated cartoon, titled "Fiesta Time at the Confirmation Hearing," depicts Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor hanging as a piñata. A sombrero-wearing President Barack Obama is turned to three suited elephants armed with bats and asking, "Now, who wants to be first?"

The cartoon was hotly debated on CNN, in Editor & Publisher magazine and in The Dallas Morning News. Locally, the Oklahoma Women's Network Blog expressed disgust along with other blogosphere commentary by The Huffington Post and Daily Kos, to name a few.

Jean Warner, chair of Oklahoma Women's Coalition, wrote about how she is fighting to change Oklahoma's culture of violence and wanted to express that hitting and hanging women is, well, basically a bad thing.

"Regarding (the June 2) political cartoon in the OKC paper: What was The Oklahoman thinking?" Warner wrote in a post titled "Shame on The Oklahoman for Violence Against Women Cartoon."

She continued: "Not funny; actually stupid and damaging. A picture speaks louder than words and that cartoon sends a message to women of all ages: 'Back off. Know your place. Or we'll take a stick to you and teach you a lesson.' "¦ Shame on The Oklahoman and its publisher, David Thompson!"

When Bok's work was reviewed prior to publication, Oklahoman Editor Ed Kelley told The Associated Press, it was determined to be a good cartoon on a subject matter with continued newsworthiness.

"Our take on the cartoon is that the president basically is daring Republicans to criticize his Supreme Court nominee and the Republicans are huddled up and semi-terrified and worried about how they are going to respond," Kelley told AP.

And what did the cartoonist have to say about the Sotomayor cartoon?

"Since she emphasized her Latina-ness and that played it up as a virtue, I thought, well, how about a fiesta and a piñata?" Bok said, according to a June 4 CNN transcript from Wolf Blitzer's "The Situation Room." "This is a Mexican thing, but, again, we're dealing with stereotypes that " that's all kind of a joke, I thought.

"When you tell a cartoonist he's insensitive, it's kind of like telling a basketball player he's tall. I mean, that's our job description."

Rossana Rosado, publisher of the Spanish-language El Diario la Prensa newspaper in New York, questioned the cartoon on national television.

"I do know that it is offensive," Rosado told CNN. "And I think that it reflects a lot of the ignorance that many Americans have about Latinos, that we're kind of " we're all Mexican or we're all this or we're all that. And in the end, it's just not that funny."

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