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Broken Trust

Broken Trust

Cartoonist slips vulgar message into Sunday panel

February 11th, 2019 by Gazette Staff in Opinion Editorial

Around 700 newspapers across the country carry the syndicated comic panel "Non Sequitur."

Created and drawn by cartoonist Wiley Miller, the comic features a cast of characters from a little town called Whatchacallit, Maine. Appearing daily and Sundays, it often satirizes political figures and situations. It's been honored with several national publishing awards.

That's all well and good. But this past Sunday's panel? Not so much.

You see, the panel had a hidden message—an "Easter egg" in the lingo of our day. Something small and unexpected slipped in that many might overlook.

It was a vulgar reference to President Donald Trump.

How vulgar? Just about as vulgar as you might expect. Now, a lot of kids read the comics. News-paper publishers know that. Cartoonist do, too.

And while not everyone caught the gibe, enough did for complaints to come in. Parents don't want their children reading the "f-word" in the presumably safe Sunday comics section.

At least two newspapers have dropped the strip. We suspect others might follow.

The Texarkana Gazette doesn't carry "Non Sequitur." Don't look for it in the future, either.

Miller, the cartoonist, has a right to his opinion. And he has a right to express that opinion. But publishers have a right to expect certain standards from a product they pay for. Comics sections are generally printed in advance and can't be changed once they are shipped to newspapers, so even if someone noticed the "Easter egg" little could be done. This obscene "message" to President Trump wasn't what they signed up for. We suspect some of the 700 newspapers that carry his strip are feeling a bit burned about now.

Miller had his say. And now he might have to face some consequences. If so, that's not censorship, it's business. Miller broke trust with those who pay his bills.

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