Stuart Leavenworth, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial page editor, doubled down on his decision to publish a controversial political cartoon Thursday, saying the cartoonist was making “a strong statement about [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry’s disregard for worker safety.”
The Bee published a cartoon showing Mr. Perry boasting about “booming” business in his state and then showing an explosion with “BOOM!” only a week after a fertilizer plant explosion killed 14 people in West, Texas.
Mr. Perry wrote a letter to Mr. Leavenworth, expressing “extreme disgust and disappointment” with the cartoon.
“While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans,” Mr. Perry wrote. “Additionally, publishing this on the very day our state and nation paused to honor and mourn those who died only compounds the pain and suffering of the many Texans who lost family and friends in this disaster.”
Mr. Leavenworth, however, stands by the cartoonist, Jack Ohman.
“It is unfortunate that Gov. Perry, and some on the blogosphere, have attempted to interpret the cartoon as being disrespectful for the victims of this tragedy,” the editor wrote. “As Ohman has made clear on his blog, he has complete empathy for the victims and people living by the plant. What he finds offensive is a governor who would gamble with the lives of families by not pushing for the strongest safety regulations. Perry’s letter is an attempt to distract people from that message.”