Letters: Cartoon Flap, Teenage Friends

Listeners respond to the discussion of the furor over the political cartoon in the New York Post, and to the story about the two teenage friends who were badly hurt after falling asleep on train tracks.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Now to your letters. Earlier this week, we discussed the uproar over a political cartoon in The New York Post. The cartoon showed a chimpanzee that has been gunned down by two police officers. With the bleeding chimp on the ground, one cop is quoted as saying: They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill. Well as we heard in the interview, many people felt the cartoon was racist. And that it was a thinly veiled depiction of President Barack Obama as the chimpanzee. And while many of you agreed with that assessment, we also heard from a quite a few of you suggesting that we missed an important point.

Among them was Ryan Ness who listens to WUFT FM in Gainesville, Florida. He writes, many people and entities are mocked by comparing them to chimpanzees. Shirts were created comparing images of George W. Bush with chimpanzees. There are videos on YouTube that morph images of Mr. Bush and images of chimps. I don't remember an outcry, he says.

Since our interview, The New York Post has apologized for the cartoon, sort of. A statement posted on the paper's Web site last night says in part - to those who were offended by the image we apologize. However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past. And they see the incident as an opportunity for pay back. To them no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon, even as the opportunist seek to make it something else. End of apology. On another subject, many of you didn't like yesterday's story about Rachel and Destiny, two teenage friends who were severely injured after falling asleep on train tracks.

Joe Otin(ph) of Tallahassee, Florida was typical. I've never written NPR to complain about a story before, he writes. But I feel compelled to write in response to today's story about two teenage girls hit by a train. The story was pure melodramatic voyeurism - the kind of story I'd expect from Entertainment Tonight, not NPR.

Alvin Johnson(ph) of Columbia, South Carolina was also angered by the piece but for a more personal reason. He writes, I myself was made an amputee at age 25 by a careless driver. And I have the same injury as the young girls. But to say that everything has changed - even to the smallest thing - is absurd and insults amputees everywhere - never mind people with far more devastating disabilities. Well, we'd like to hear from you. So, please write to us at npr.org, click Contact Us at the top of the page. And don't forget to tell us where you're writing from and how to pronounce your name.

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