I’ve just sent this e-mail to Berkeley Breathed in response his quote in this Salon piece.
Dear Mr. Breathed,
I was surprised to read in Salon:
‘In 1986 I had a cockroach scream, “Reagan sucks!” in print size that took up the entire cartoon box. Nobody blinked — 1,000 newspapers, quiet as a mouse.’
I remember quite a few papers upset by the cartoon, and the San Diego Union refused to run the strip. I wrote an editorial for my newspaper supporting your right to free speech. The editorial won an award from SPJ. I sent a copy of the paper to you, and you (without my even asking) sent it back autographed (still have it, though have never framed it as I’ve always intended).
In larger context — I disagree with your sentiment that discourse is any more uncivil than its ever been — American political discourse has ALWAYS been ruffian and course. Mean spiritedness is not an invention of cable news or bloggers. There’s just more outlets now, and some blowhards have bigger bullhorns.
But there’s also more outlets for civil discourse, and there is more than it than ever … more fact checking, more chance for reasonable voices to be heard amongst the clutter and crap, more people interested in finding truth rather than lies.
Do what you will with your characters and your career, but in an age when we’re ruled by a class of politicians best labeled Republocrats hell bent on Empire and Plutocracy, we need more independent voices, not fewer. It is a blow to freedom to see Opus silenced.