Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader didn’t make many friends amongst Kentucky fans with his May 8 cartoon in response to the cancellation of the Indiana/Kentucky series.
The cartoon depicts head coach John Calipari’s trophy shelf, noting two vacated Final Four appearances and a “take my ball and go home” trophy alongside Kentucky’s 2012 national title.
To say the least much of Big Blue Nation wasn’t pleased with this artwork, firing off threats to cancel their subscriptions to the paper (a few followed through) and sending Pett emails and letters voicing their displeasure.
Pett provided a response of sorts in Sunday’s Herald-Leader, beginning with a description of his trip to Washington, D.C. to take part in a board meeting of the Cartoonist Rights Network.
Part of our agenda was to select the winner of the annual Courage in Cartooning Award, given to a cartoonist who showed particular bravery standing up to threats.
Sadly, there were many qualified candidates last year, perhaps the most notable being Ali Ferzat of Syria, who was beaten and had his fingers broken by thugs from the Assad regime.
The French satirical newspaper Hebdo was bombed over cartoons. Slovakian cartoonist Martin Sutovek was sued by Prime Minister Robert Fico for cartoons suggesting he lacked backbone. These are all-too-common stories, with variations repeated in India, Bahrain, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.
As with the infamous fatwah declared against the Danish cartoonists a couple of years back for drawing Mohammed, there are often undercurrents of tribalism or religious fanatacism in play, which brings us to University of Kentucky basketball.
Apparently fans have taken the liberty to call Pett at his home, with one even stating that they were outside at the time of the call.
As angry as some may be over the cartoon, that’s taking things entirely too far.
But looking at some of the above examples of cartoons, is one focused on a coach’s hypothetical trophy shelf all that malicious in comparison?
As much as we all love the games and the bragging rights that come with them, at the end of the day they’re just that: games.
Photo credit: Lexington Herald-Leader