If you were on the site this past week, then you surely know the story of Joel Pett and his Calipari cartoon above that sent everyone into a 48 hour frenzy. We visited the issue a great deal here and my conclusion remains what it was after I initially saw it. Pett has a right to draw such cartoons, and as a fan of his work generally, I think it is one of his weaker efforts (even Louisville message board neanderthals can think up of better Calipari quips than “hey he has two trophies vacated!”). What I couldn’t understand is what the upside is for the Herald Leader in running such cartoons, especially when combined with Jerry “The Nattering Nabob of Negativism” Tipton’s daily reporting. Since most of you don’t read the Herald, it is worth noting that Joel Pett has this response today in its pages. If you are the type who doesn’t like to click on Herald-Leader links, here are the relevant parts:
As with the infamous fatwah declared against the Danish cartoonists a couple of years back for drawing Mohammed, there are often undercurrents of tribalism or religious fanatacism in play, which brings us to University of Kentucky basketball.
I got off the plane Tuesday afternoon and have spent nearly every waking hour since dealing with angry hoop fans, displeased, to put it mildly, at the way I lampooned UK Coach John Calipari after he refused to play Indiana in Bloomington again.
A dozen or so have canceled their papers. Many dozens have sent me e-mails, most of them unprintable, some containing veiled threats. A handful called my home, one at 2 a.m., claiming to be outside. A UK fan posted my home address on the Internet and suggested it as a target for vandalism. A couple of correspondents lectured me that IU students treated Calipari and the Cats rudely in Bloomington during last season’s thriller. Imagine that.
Now, I went to IU, have pretty much split my life between Bloomington and Lexington, have loved both playing and watching basketball for decades and remain incensed that the series is waylaid.
I was dismayed 20 years ago when it was moved to Indianapolis and Louisville, in pursuit of ever more big money. I couldn’t care less about their bottom lines, or that playing in huge arenas prepares the one-and-dones (one-and-domes?) for Final Fours.
A quaint notion, maybe, but I like college games to be played in the college towns.
For all the demands that I apologize, what I really regret is that of all the subjects we cover ? in news, editorials and cartoons ? UK basketball is the only one, with the possible exception of the you’re-with-us-or-the-terrorists Iraq war, that has inspired this level of genuine outrage and passion.
Now that’s just sorry.
Rather than get in a tit for tat with Pett, I simply respond this way. It is the height of arrogance to suggest that topic that Pett thought important enough to draw a cartoon about and stirs up enough emotion in him that he claims to be “incensed”, is not one that UK fans should treat with passion. Those that called Pett’s home or threatened him are obviously completely out of line and should be criticized for their immature and ignorant actions. But the notion that people shouldn’t be upset about what he wrote is disingenuous. Pett drew the cartoon to get a reaction…he did. The reaction was great (people at the Herald Leader have told me that far more than “a dozen” called to cancel subscriptions…but unfortunately for the Herald, most cancelled or quit caring long ago) and for Pett to criticize complaints when he started the subject is a weak response. It isn’t shocking that people around the world put too much emphasis on trivial things like sports over supposed weightier issues, as it has been as such deflecting is a consistent part of the human existence. Kentucky fans care more about basketball than they should, just as Pett likely cares more about “Doonesbury” than any man who has moved past the 1980s ever should. To criticize those who got upset over your work, when the mere reason the work exists is to to make those people upset, while also publishing the work in an entity that gets a major source of its profit from these same readers’ sports passion is hypocritical. Pett being intelligent, surely knows this and that is why I found his writing today disappointing.
If you missed his interview on the radio with me last week, I think he made his points far better and with less egotistical abrasiveness at that point: