Years ago, I took offense at Pat Bagley’s treatment of Israel during the intifada. I continued my subscription to The Salt Lake Tribune and looked forward to Bagley’s next cartoon. Last year, The Trib published my letter in the Public Forum criticizing Bagley’s cartoon using the image of the gate into Auschwitz to highlight the plight of wildlife facing extinction.
I found it offensive, but I kept reading Bagley’s cartoons because I recognize that his job is to challenge our thinking, not make us laugh. To engage our critical intelligence, not to entertain. He appears on the Opinion page, not in the comics, for a reason. Bagley is one of a handful of talented, insightful and daring political cartoonists in the country. I think he’s one of the best.
The protest by supporters of the police over Bagley’s recent cartoon was a good use of First Amendment rights. The complaints in the Public Forum make for good social discourse. Love it or hate it, we’re talking about it. We might not have expressed our opinions had it not been for Bagley’s cartoon.
Whether he causes us to see things differently is up to us. Whether in agreement or dissent, maybe he helps to confirm the points of view we’ve always held. Especially in these times, we can’t afford to not have Bagley, and other disrupters of the status quo, in our newspapers. As for fanning the flames of anti-police sentiment, critically thinking adults will understand that the use of exaggeration is a common tool among political cartoonists and that challenging systemic racism in American institutions does not imply that all individuals within those institutions are racist. Pat Bagley and The Salt Lake Tribune are doing their jobs.
Mark M. Cantor, Salt Lake City