Cartoonist Ted Rall's gross-out WTC cartoon yanked from NY Times web site

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NY Daily News Mar 6, 2002

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WTC Cartoon Ripped---

Mocks victims' families as shallow, greedy

By DAVE GOLDINER Daily News Staff Writer

An editorial cartoon that ridicules widows of World Trade Center victims as greedy and shallow publicity hounds drew instant outrage last night from the grieving survivors.

Ted Rall's drawing, "Terror Widows," abruptly yanked from The New York Times Web site yesterday, skewers the women as getting rich from charity aid and preening for TV cameras.

"All I can say to these people is: Shame on you," said Jenny Farrell, whose brother, James, died in the twin towers. "They really crossed the line of decency."

In one frame, a widow with a pile of money in her lap tells a newsman that she still mourns her lost husband.

"Fortunately, the $3.2 million I collected from the Red Cross keeps me warm at night," she says.

Another frame shows a ditzy widow flippantly mentioning that her husband was on fire when he called her from the twin towers Sept. 11 ó then complimenting a news host on his tie.

Widow Nicole Petrocelli said she was "overwhelmingly upset and saddened" by the cartoon.

"No one wants the money," she said. "All we want is five minutes to say goodbye to our husbands."

The cartoon, first reported by the New York 1 cable news station, was fed directly to The Times' Web site yesterday morning by the Universal Press Syndicate, the newspaper said.

Editors pulled the cartoon after receiving calls from reporters.

"We thought the subject matter was inappropriate," said Christine Mohan, a spokeswoman for The Times.

Rall, 38, did not respond to a request for comment last night. His work appears in nearly 100 papers nationwide, including The Times and the Star-Ledger of Newark, and he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1996.

His syndicate said, "Pushing the envelope of polite criticism is what editorial cartoonists do."

"I understand there is freedom of speech, but this is way beyond the pale," Farrell said. "This is a mockery of the loss of life."

The cartoon is the latest salvo in an increasingly ugly national debate over compensation to victims' families.

-- (Roland@hatemail.com), March 06, 2002

Answers

Interviewed after the incident, a shaken Rall whined "It's so hard to think up a new cartoon every day. The deadline is relentless."

-- (Woodward@Bernstein's.bedroom), March 06, 2002.

""No one wants the money," she said."

Not sure what planet this lady is living on, but she obviously didn't hear about the thousands of people who were awarded over $1 million from the taxpayers and were still yelling that they wanted more.

-- (truth@ain't.pretty), March 06, 2002.


So where's the cartoon? This crowd shoulda found and posted it by now. What? We goin whimpy? Post the fucking cartoon already. Someone here can do it. Who will it be?

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), March 09, 2002.

It's down the memory hole.

-- (Roland@hatemail.com), March 09, 2002.

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Ah, Ted Rall, the brave St. Sebastian of the Truth-Speaking Dissenters, now ground under the heel of the conservative nutjobs who run the New York Times. Youíve heard, no doubt, of the cartoon that got yanked from the Times site, the cartoon in which he makes fun of Daniel Pearlís widow. (Itís about all the 9/11 widows - one panel has a woman saying that the worst thing about having her husbandís throat slit was having to watch the Olympics alone.) I donít know why anyoneís surprised by this. Artistically, itís typical; Rall seems to draw his work not with a pen and hand but with a piece of charcoal inserted into his ear canal. As for its subject matter, itís like everything else he does: it bears no relation to reality, and itís not funny. When you tote up the basics of Rall cartoon - ugly, nonsensical, strenuously unamusing - you wonder why, exactly, anyone runs him.

Apparently he was on the Mike Gallagher show today, a talk show on the Salem Broadcast Network. I didnít hear it, and Iím glad I didnít; Gnat does not need to hear Daddy say those words. From what Iíve read, the host of the show agreed with Rallís critique of the widows. But before Ted takes any comfort in this, he should know that Gallagher is one of the most blockheaded people Iíve ever heard on radio. He bored me after a week of listening, because his brain seems like a rock set in concrete, devoid of intellectual curiosity. I will offer only this in evidence: once I heard him goggling over an illustrated tract that showed the dangers of Freemasonry, and he asked the audience to call and tell him if this was true. Were they really this super-secret evil society? ďItís a little cartoon book by some guy named Jack Chick,Ē he said, ďand itís disturbing.Ē

If one can reach 40, believe that the tentacular insinuations of the Shriner cabal have snaked through every institution, as well as NOT know about Jack Chick cartoons, youíve no business cracking a mike on a national show. If he agreed with Rall, Iím not surprised.

Anyway. Why is anyone shocked by Rallís latest? Itís not like the Family Circus turned into a strip about child mol3station, or Garfield took a hideous swing into b3stiality. (Misspellings to shield me from prevert Googlers.) Maybe itís because weíre so used to him skinning the family pet weíre stunned to learn heís taking the knife to the baby. I just find it interesting that he seems so besotted by his need to prove his intellectual bravery that he doesnít realize when heís walked off the cliff. Itís a Wile E. Coyote moment in a manís career; we can only watch him shrink, and wait for the single puff of dust on the canyon floor.

Rallstones, conít

Just saw Our Boy Ted (OBT) on OíReilly. He clarified some things.

Iíd like to note that criticism of the government charity re the 9/11 victims is a worthwhile topic, and Iím troubled by some aspects of it, just like many people whoíve emailed me on the subject. But Rallís cartoon was the equivalent of pissing on a grave to protest the high cost of tombstones.

Anyway, OBT cleared away the smoke, and set my mind at ease. First of all, heís not making fun of all the Terror Widows, just those who got on TV to advance their ďright wingĒ and ďreligiousĒ views. You know. Those widows. Second, he disapproved of Mrs. Pearl showing up on TV after her husbandís murder. He thought it was okay that she was on TV before, but he disapproved of her showing up afterwards.He didn't give a time-frame - say, it would be okay to grant an interview 72 hours afterwards but not 71 hours, but I'm sure if pressed he could oblige with a list of actions he'd approve. Also, he wasnít specifically making fun of Mrs. Pearl. OíReilly asked who ELSE got their throats cut, and he said ďthe people on the planes.Ē So heís making a Trenchant Point about the wives of the butchered stewardesses who came out afterwards and made right-wing, religious statements. Screw Ďem! Lousy God-bothering jingo-maddened flat-taxers.

-- (Roland@hatemail.com), March 09, 2002.



link

-- (Roland@hatemail.com), March 09, 2002.

RallingONTHFLMA O.

-- (LOL@LOL.LOL), March 10, 2002.

Terror Widows

-- Pammy (pamela_sue57@hotmail.com), March 10, 2002.

Wow, where have I been? Ted Rall is almost as funny as Tom Tomorrow!

-- (Algernon C. Braithewait III@Cambridge.MA), March 10, 2002.

Edwa rd Rall, in memorium.

-- (FDNY@ground.zero), March 12, 2002.


HOW MUCH IS ONE LIFE WORTH?

Tue Mar 12, 9:01 PM ET

The Finances of Death After 9-11

by Ted Rall

NEW YORK-This is America, land of the free, the home of the not-always-so-brave. Theoretically, the First Amendment permits us to talk about anything we want, but God help you if you actually try to use the thing.

Since September 11th, the list of "permissible topics and opinions" has been shrinking faster than a typical 401(k).

Last week an editorial cartoon I drew about "terror widows" became the subject of intense national controversy when an advocacy group for the relatives of 9-11 victims launched an e-mail campaign to get the piece removed from the New York Times and Washington Post websites. Both newspapers caved in to the pressure, adding victims compensation to the list of things we're no longer supposed to question.

The federal government is poised to cut roughly $6 billion worth of checks to the spouses and children of 9-11 victims. That's a lot of money-our money. Are we no longer allowed to talk about how the government spends our taxes?

The bold emphasis was added for Roland the Repug. Repugs like Roland are always bitching and moaning that "liberals" are too concerned with being "politically correct". But when a "liberal" such as Ted Rall calls attention to a very legitimate question, the Repugs whine that he is being "cruel", and all of a sudden their hearts are bleeding with political correctness! As Maria would say... "too funny"!

My cartoon reflected a growing sense that groups have gone from asking for much needed help to taking excessive advantage of Americans' generosity in the wake of overwhelming tragedy. When Families of September 11, Inc. treasurer Stephen Push went on TV to demand an increase in the $1.6 million allotted for each victim, he was deluged with angry e-mails. "If $1.6 million isn't enough you should rot in hell," he quoted one. "You're disgusting trying to profit from your loved one's death," said another. But Push's efforts worked. According to fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg, the average award has been increased to $1.85 million.

"The government fund is not `aid,' says Push. "It is compensation to which the families are entitled."

How the Fund Works

Congress approved the fund as a supplement to the $15 billion bailout of the airline industry. Only survivors who agree not to sue the airlines are eligible. Each victim is worth an average of $1.85 million, tax-free. Amounts vary enormously, based on such actuarial factors as how much the dead person earned and how long they were expected to continue working. The minimum payment is $250,000, which means that some will receive significantly more than $1.85 million.

Remember, the $1.85 million figure is per victim, not per relative, which means it will be divvied up among relatives-spouses and children, mainly. In addition, victims groups hasten to point out, life insurance payouts will be subtracted from the total. For example, Beverly Eckert received $1.4 million from her husband's life insurer. Because this exceeds the figure alloted her by the fund, she will receive no fund payment.

Eckert argues that she's being penalized because her husband responsibly provided for her in the event of his death. Nonetheless, she ends up with $1.4 million, equal to nearly 15 years of her husband's $96,000-a-year salary. And, in addition to the government payout, all the widows and widowers remain eligible to collect workman's comp, the Social Security (news - web sites) death benefit and employer pensions.

Is It Too Much?

In the weeks after September 11th, millions of dollars poured into the coffers of 9-11-related charities. The reaction of Americans to the first major terrorist attack on U.S. soil was very emotional-since the 9-11 victims were killed in an attack on the nation, the feeling seemed to be, their fellow citizens should make sure their families are well taken care of. It didn't take long for relatives of those killed in previous terror attacks, including those in Oklahoma City and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, to complain that they had received little or no compensation for their suffering. One immediately wonders what the families of the U.S. servicemen killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan (news - web sites) will receive. It's unlikely their relatives won't get anything close to $1.85 million; nor will those whose loved ones succumbed to anthrax.

Attaching a dollar value to the life of a parent or spouse makes many Americans uncomfortable. Why, some ask, should 9-11 survivors be compensated differently from those whose spouses die from cancer, car accidents or even suicide? Death is death. Why does the fact that terrorism was involved make the loss different for survivors?

Even if you approve of the theory of victim compensation, the 9-11 fund seems both excessive and skewed to most benefit those who need help least.

The average 9-11 victim was 40 years old, which means he or she had an expectation of 25 years of further wage-earning before a typical retirement at age 65. The $1.85 million compensation represents $74,000 for each of those 25 un-lived years-which is at least double the income of the average American, even in the high-cost New York City metro area.

Problems with the Fund

The list of victims of 9-11 offers an economic microcosm of our society. Some were wealthy investment bankers; others were bike messengers and illegal immigrants scraping by in the kitchen at the Windows on the World restaurant. Is it right that the awards be based on each victim's individual earning potential? What about the person in a modest-paying job who had big as-yet-unrealized potential? Should the requirements of "maintaining a lifestyle" be a factor? If so, then the survivors of rich people need more money than the survivors of the poor, in order to keep up with their high mortgage payments and other expenses.

Thousands of Americans wrote me to express their disgust with efforts of the 9-11 organizations to get more money. Many expressed the opinion that poorer families should get more, not less, than richer ones. The fund provides the opposite. For most citizens, the death of a spouse would result in little more than a standard $10,000 employer-funded life insurance payout. Most people believe that 9-11 victims' families should receive enough to get back on their feet-not a penny more. "I donated to the victims," wrote one, "but now I wish I hadn't. Nobody told us that these people would become millionaires."

The crux of the trouble is the fund's raison d'Ítre: discouraging lawsuits against the airlines. Although there's no evidence that the particular airlines involved in 9-11 were more negligent than their competitors, there were plenty of warnings before 2001 that the industry as a whole was woefully inadequate from a security standpoint. And it's entirely possible that jurors would issue multi-million-dollar awards to plaintiffs in hundreds of cases if they came to trial. In order to provide an adequate incentive not to sue, the fund had to offer multi-million-dollar payouts.

Nevertheless, the fund won't completely prevent airline lawsuits. People who receive big life insurance payments, for example, won't qualify for the fund, and will receive enough money to pay for years of litigation. Others may qualify, yet choose to sue instead in the hope of a bigger payment from an airline than that offered by the fund. Perhaps that's best: if, after all, the airlines really screwed up on security, they deserve to take a beating in court.

A New Social Contract?

At the root of the hubbub over victim compensation is the fact that America falls woefully short when it comes to helping people when they're down and out. When someone you love dies in a train derailment, apartment fire or a violent crime, you need both emotional and financial assistance. The vast majority of people, unfortunately, find themselves alone with their grief and money problems. Perhaps that's why they can't help but feel somewhat jealous of the World Trade Center victims. It's not that those who lost someone on 9-11 don't need help-they obviously do-it's that they're the only people getting any.

(Ted Rall's new book, a graphic travelogue about his recent coverage of the Afghan war titled "To Afghanistan and Back," will be published in April.)

-- LOL (you pugs are @ really. something), March 14, 2002.


One wants to respond to such convoluted thinking but One ultimately concludes: "What the fuck?"

-- (One@One.won), March 15, 2002.

Which part is too "convoluted" for you to understand dimwit?

-- (no comments @ from. peanut gallery), March 15, 2002.

The Bill and Ted Show

-- (LOL@Rall.caterwaul), March 16, 2002.

Bill and Ted

-- (LOL@small.Rall), March 16, 2002.


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