Just because the First Amendment gives us the right to publish something, doesn’t mean that we should – at least not without fully considering the impact of the publication.
That point has been brought home by the Journal’s publication of a Sean Delonas political cartoon on Feb. 7. The cartoon should not have appeared in the Journal, and we apologize for publishing it.
The Journal will not publish Mr. Delonas’ work again. Not only because of the outrage it created, but because the Journal should not serve as a platform for racist depictions of many of the people who make up our state.
The ensuing outcry after publication of the syndicated cartoon has prompted many conversations that have included personal responses to emails and phone calls.
One of the most important and helpful of the conversations was a recent meeting between members of the Journal’s editorial board and senior management team and several community leaders, including those representing the New Mexico Dream Team.
After listening to the concerns of those in attendance, including young immigrants, the Journal was made even more aware of the pain the publication of this syndicated cartoon caused to our community.
The overwhelming majority of people we have heard from expressed that the cartoon unfairly and inaccurately equated “Dreamers” and people of color with criminals, MS-13 gang members and terrorists, and that it was in fact racist.
That is a fair interpretation. It was racist and crossed a line that should not have been crossed despite the wide latitude given to the expression of opinion on the editorial and op-ed pages. The Journal should be used to spark meaningful, factual and informed debate and not fuel racist ideologies.
Going forward, we are putting formal procedures in place to ensure more scrutiny of all syndicated cartoons. This will involve spending more time and having a broader and more diverse group within the Journal involved in the vetting process of syndicated cartoons – while creating a bridge to gain perspective from community members themselves.
We look forward to a continued dialogue between the Journal and the immigrant community.
We believe the Feb. 12 meeting was helpful and insightful, and we appreciate the exchange of ideas and opinions. As a first step we plan to meet on a regular basis with New Mexico Dream Team members and leaders to listen to their concerns, and to share story ideas and different points of view.
This has reminded us that along with our First Amendment rights is our commitment to a civil debate that rejects racist stereotypes like the one in this political cartoon.
We will not always agree, but we do pledge to listen and in so doing strive to make more informed decisions.