What can we learn from this cartoon?
First, let me concede two points.
1. We have free speech in this country and Steve Benson can print whatever he wants.
2. Political cartoonists have a long and storied tradition of being provocative. They are literally judged by a different standard than even the columnists or editorial writers.
Great. Now that I have those two concessions out of the way, let me ask...are there no limits? Is there no one at the Republic who will stand up and say. "That cartoon is so insulting and disgusting that either he goes or I go."? No. The answer is obvious, no one is going to stand up to Benson.
Free speech is nearly absolute, but not in the context of employment. Under the first amendment, you can wear T shirt adorned with the Confederate Flag....but that doesn't mean you have the right to wear it while you work as a barista at Starbucks. As much as Gannett management would like to claim that they are simply allowing Benson to exercise his right of free speech and that they don't endorse the outrageous things he does, we know it's not true. Starbucks couldn't get away with hiding behind the first amendment in order to allow its employees to wear confederate flag apparel. They have the power to stop it and they don't. Ultimately, that would be an admission that the employee hasn't crossed a line.
Benson likes to portray Republicans as the most despicable person who happens to be in the news. So when Libya was the hot topic, he portrayed Governor Brewer as Moyamar Qaddafi. When Ariel Castro shocked the nation by kidnapping, imprisoning (for over a decade) and raping 3 women in his Cleveland basement, Benson drew gruesome the scene with the GOP Elephant as Castro.
So now we have Donald Trump as a guy who cuts off hostages' heads on film for propaganda purposes. Let me be clear. No one deserves to be compared to these people and the lack expressed outrage from other Republic employees or Republic management is a sign of cowardice that rises to the point complicity.
I never expected someone like Robert Leger to stand up for decency...but he's gone now.
So now I'm asking you Phil Boas at what point has Benson gone too far?