Warning! Offensive Cartoon!
Here’s a cover of The Stranger that some folks found offensive—it’s Pope John Paul II and Terry Schaivo racing each other to the grave.
After this cover ran, the Knights of Columbus did not march into our offices and start beheading people with their dress swords. The Vatican did not demand that Greg Nickels shut down The Stranger.
And that’s one of the markers of a great, big, all-grown-up-now world religion: The ability to take an intentionally offensive jab in stride. Although we weren’t necessarily making fun of the Pope’s death or Schaivo’s (but of our death-obsessed culture and the media’s coverage of both their impending deaths last March, which made it feel like a morbid race), this cover hurt some folks’ feelings. And we knew it would. The hurt folks wrote us letters and screamed at us—and that’s their right, and we printed their letters—and they questioned our judgment. But no one questioned our right to put this cartoon on the cover of our paper.