Texas Gov. Rick Perry is demanding an apology from a California newspaper for a cartoon it published of him and the West fertilizer plant explosion implying that the governor’s low regulation agenda is to blame.
Cartoonist Jack Ohman for The Sacramento Bee said the cartoon was published to make a point. He explained that “when the plant exploded and killed 14 people, people started asking the inevitable questions about whether this tragedy could have been prevented."
“Well, we're not going to know that now, exactly, but I doubt that more inspections and better zoning would have hurt,” Ohman wrote.
Gov. Perry said the cartoon is a low blow, taking advantage of a tragedy that claimed 14 lives to criticize him.
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"The Sacramento Bee published a disgusting 'cartoon' mocking the deadly explosion in West. While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won't stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans. I have written the editor and asked that they apologize to the citizens of West," Perry wrote on his official Facebook page.
He claimed that publishing the cartoon on a day of mourning for the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion added to the pain and suffering of friends and families. By definition, however, a political cartoon relates to current events and uses satire to draw attention to corruption or other social ills.
The newspaper did not apologize. The Sacramento Bee published a letter from Perry stating, “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon.”
In response, Sacramento Bee editor Stuart Leavenworth defended the cartoon.
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"Jack Ohman's cartoon of April 25 made a strong statement about Gov. Rick Perry's disregard for worker safety, and his attempts to market Texas as a place where industries can thrive with few regulations," said Leavenworth.
Rick Perry recently began enticing gun manufacturers in states with new gun legislation to move to Texas, promising to keep regulations low.
Leavenworth claims Perry wants to distract the public from challenging his de-regulatory agenda.
“What [Ohman] finds offensive is a governor who would gamble with the lives of families by not pushing for the strongest safety regulations. Perry's letter is an attempt to distract people from that message,” Leavenworth added.