When I saw the editorial cartoon in your Jan. 5 issue, I felt nauseous. My gut says this is a wake-up call.

This cartoon adjoins the “View from Away” criticizing social media that “just go right to the ad hominem attacks and the dehumanizing.” The editorial suggest Americans should “take an honest look at the quality of the national discourse” and warns your readers “that we should not continue down this path.” I agree; as a nation we are already perilously close to the abyss at its end.

Here’s my question: is this newspaper part of the problem or part of the solution? Are you competing with the social media that “brings out the worst in us” or aspiring to “go higher”? Is the ironic juxtaposition of the cartoon and your essay intentional? I hope so.

If translated into words, the cartoon devolves into a cruel. demeaning array of juvenile insults primarily aimed at Americans who persist in existing past an arbitrary expiration date. It ridicules Americans with physical limitations and Americans who suggest solutions that are working in happier, healthier countries than ours. It shames some for their dining choices. And it mocks an elder statesman for being audacious enough to be a powerful leader even though she is a woman. There is no “argument or reason” here, simply a nasty drawing by a schoolyard bully that would be right at home in the social media the adjacent editorial decries.

David Webbert’s essay cites Maine’s reputation as “a decent and enlightened place with “a deep appreciation for the benefits of diversity” (“Legislature should condemn LePage’s legacy of racist diatribes,” column, Jan. 4). Let’s hope this newpaper sets editorial standards that “go higher” than this cartoon’s lowest level of expression.

Ruth Kelleher Hertz


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