On December 7th, the Bucks County Courier Times ran a syndicated political cartoon from Chris Britt. In that cartoon, minority children waiting for Santa ask him, “Keep us safe from the police.” It’s a reference to the several killings of unarmed black men by police officers this year, including the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
As a reaction, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby — a man who may wish to become our next state senator — fired off a letter to the Courier Times and its editor, Patricia Walker.
It was a reasoned and measured response:
Just kidding! It was not. Here are my favorite sentences:
- Surprisingly, you have at least one reader of that excuse for a newspaper you run.
- “cartoon” (as if the legitimacy of this even being a cartoon is in question)
- There is a special place in hell for you miserable parasites in the media who seek to exploit violence and hatred in order to sell advertisements.
- Here’s wishing you a bankrupt New Year.
So, yes, the head of the Philadelphia police union wants the Bucks County Courier Times to go out of business, and its employees to spend an eternity burning in the fires of hell. McNesby may want to rethink this: All the police officers who move to Bensalem after retiring are going to need a news source to keep up with their kids’ high school sports teams. (Go Firebirds!)
The Bucks County FOP also wrote a letter accusing the newspaper of promoting “mistrust between citizens and police.” And this:
Our membership has contacted and given the Courier staff sufficient time to print an apology for this distasteful content and were basically told to get over it.
Walker responded with a letter to the readers:
Letters, cartoons and guest opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of our editorial board, rather that of the author or artist. […] Those who subscribe to this newspaper understand our commitment to the community and our steadfast support for law enforcement and those who work very hard to make Bucks County a better place to live. We are united in that effort.
So, basically: Sorry, not sorry (but we don’t agree with the cartoon we ran).
This isn’t the first time police have gotten angry about a cartoon locally. In 2005, then-Philadelphia Police commissioner Sylvester Johnson complained (in a lighter tone) about a Daily News cartoon by Signe Wilkinson.