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By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 24, 2004

Vision Book Cover Prints

In a recent effort, cartoonist Pat Oliphant portrays Justice Antonin Scalia as a mafioso in the 1920s mode, sitting in a duck blind wearing a loud suit with machine gun at the ready, saying to Cheney, "Dis is da life, Dick!"

I happen to find Oliphant's point of view detestable here, but that's not a problem. He clearly set out to provoke Scalia admirers to teeth-gnashing and Scalia haters to amusement, and he succeeded. Personally I don't object (in principle) to a cartoonist's using consciously offensive ethnic stereotypes as part of his weaponry, although it seems somewhat gratuitous -- even from Oliphant's political perspective -- in the present instance.

No, what really rankles is the editorial policy of the newspapers like the Washington Post that link to or feature Oliphant and company. The playing field is preposterously un-level. If it's fair game to make a Supreme Court Justice of Italian origin into a sub-literate Murder Incorporated mobster, fine. But then every other ethnic group should be open (no fair complaining!) to the same treatment by caricaturists.

Well, we all know it's not going to happen. Think of the fallout if the privileged groups -- those for whom a "hands off" edict has been decreed -- were submitted to mockery at a level of insult equivalent to Scalia da mob boss wit da ugly mug and da tommy gun. The mind reels.

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