Wylie News publisher says editorial cartoon might not have run if he had seen it before it was printed
An editorial cartoon ridiculing same-sex marriage has offended several of The Wylie News’ readers.
The cartoon featured two effeminate-looking men holding hands and standing in front of a hooded, cloaked figure who resembled a sorceress. The caption read, “And now by the authority of my crystals, my stars and my goodness I pronounce you husband and husband! And what humans have joined together, let not God put asunder!”
The cartoon included the words, “Gayway Chapel,” and one of the men wore women’s high heel shoes. Both men wore earrings and frilly clothing.
Susan McKay, a retired social worker, said a former coworker of hers sent her a copy of the cartoon, which was published in the weekly newspaper on Oct. 25. The newspaper serves a small suburb northeast of Dallas.
“She was horribly offended,” McKay said. “I thought it was appalling. I can’t think of anyway else to look at it.”
Susan Rice, who forwarded the cartoon to McKay, said she received a copy of it from a friend who is a Wylie resident.
“Personally, I feel no matter where someone might stand on the issue of gay marriage, a cartoon like this is offensive,” Rice said. “I do not think it is helpful or appropriate to attack any group in an unloving, hateful way.
“We no longer tolerate this towards other minority groups, so I’m unsure why anyone would think it’s acceptable to make fun of a gay couple in this way. As my husband said, no matter what you believe, to attack someone’s commitment to their loving relationship is cruel.”
The cartoon is being circulated by Jennifer Culonge, who lives in Wylie.
“I forwarded it to a few people in the hopes that The Wylie News would receive some complaints,” Culonge said.
Donnita Nesbit Fisher, managing editor of the newspaper, said she had received two letters and one phone call complaining about the cartoon.
“We publish a variety of views on our editorial page,” Fisher said. “The views that are published there are not necessarily those of the newspaper or its staff. We just try to provide a vehicle to get our readers thinking and discussing topics.”
The cartoon was a commentary by the artist, Dave Eden, who lives in Wylie, according to the publisher. His Web site identifies him as a sign painter and muralist, illustrator and author, editorial cartoonist and a Christian musician.
Eden did not respond to an e-mail, and the phone number listed for his sign business was not answered.
Chad Engbrock, publisher of the newspaper, said he had not seen the cartoon before it was published and was surprised by its content. Anything apt to create controversy usually crosses his desk before publication, he said.
“I’m not sure why it didn’t,” Engbrock said. “I probably would have thought twice about running something like that. But it’s out there, and we’ve got what we’ve got.”
Engbrock said the letters of complaint would be published in the Nov. 1 issue as is customary when editorial cartoons and other commentary generate criticism.
“You open yourself up to controversy just by printing a page every week,” Engbrock said.
Engbrock said a cartoon about the abortion issue had created an avalanche of criticism.
“It wasn’t meant to cause the controversy that it did,” Engbrock said. “But some people looked at it as a little too one-sided and didn’t have an open mind about it and thought we were against the entire Catholic faith.”
Engbrock said he was “born and raised” Catholic so the criticism was unexpected.
“Sometimes we think, “‘Well, now when we ran that we didn’t even expect anything,'” Engbrock said.
Fisher said she could not recall ever running a cartoon about same-sex marriage before, but she noted that criticism is not unusual.
“We’ve done pro-life and the opposite of that as well,” Fisher said. “The cartoonist submits the cartoons.”
Engbrock said a cartoon that poked fun at the critics of same-sex marriage would be considered fair game.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 3, 2006.