— NECN (@NECN) October 1, 2014
When will people learn that you can’t do offensive things and just hope to quietly get away with them? Boston Herald cartoonist Jerry Holbert apologized Wednesday morning for what he described as a “naive” reference that many viewed as a racist and offensive remark directed at President Obama.
The cartoon, which ran in Wednesday’s papers could have been funny. It was a response to the recent reports about the Secret Service’s blunders, the most recent one being that they allowed a gun carrying, ex-convict to share an elevator with President Obama.
The cartoon shows Obama in the bathroom brushing his teeth. Obama looks obviously surprised as a strange man sits in the bathtub behind him and asks whether the president has “tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste.”
Naturally it didn’t take long for the cartoon to make its way around the internet and for many to view the watermelon reference as racist in regard to the first African American president. Ummm… you think? Why didn’t the intruder also ask about the fried chicken flavored cologne?
Of course the typical apology non-apology, sorry not sorry, soon followed.
“I had no intention at all of offending anybody. I thought this was a very lighthearted cartoon,” Holbert said, describing how he selected the flavor because he likes watermelon-flavored things, including candy. “Naive, stupid, those kinds of things I understand. But racist I’m definitely not.”
Holbert also addressed the fact that a syndicate had asked him to change the flavor to raspberry (he agreed to do it), citing a racial concern.
He said he disagreed with that assessment, but should have called into the Herald to change the cartoon there as well.
“It was stupid on my part, but, you know, racism is sort of innately stupid, and I will not participate in that,” he said.
So one syndicate had the presence of mind to preemptively ask you to change the flavor to raspberry and you still didn’t think there would be problem?
The Herald also issued a statement expressing its regret but standing behind Holbert as a cartoonist of “utmost integrity.”
“His cartoon satirizing the US Secret Service breach at the White House has offended some people and to them we apologize,” the statement said. “His choice of imagery was absolutely not meant to be hurtful.”
Not meant to be harmful? Is that all matters, that there was no intent to be offensive? Good to know.