EDITOR, The Tribune.
If you hurl a metaphorical rock into a room full of satirists it’s a safe bet the one that lampoons you in his cartoon the next morning is probably the one you hit.
Stan Burnside, aka the cartoon columnist Sideburns, took umbrage at the ribbing he got over the allegation that he pulls his punches when portraying the transgressions of the PLP in and out of office, while simultaneously raining down blows on the FNM.
While the fact that he could be goaded into convivial repartee is revealing, it was beneath him to resort to schoolyard-style taunting over the issue of anonymity in newspaper letter writing. Apparently, he can dish out criticism but chokes when forced to swallow the same medicine.
A cartoonist of his stature was expected to at least attack the veracity of the charge sheet levied against him. He chose instead to denigrate the messenger.
Not once did he rebut the observations about his work, further painting himself as an obscurantist, seeking only to de-mask a critic. His default strategy of blame-and-shame was lame and showed him to be haughty and thin-skinned.
It matters not who The Graduate is. If Sideburns was just a nom de plume and we never knew his identity, the criticism of his body of work would be just as valid.
His cartoons, while typically slap-stick and predictable, do provide some comic relief for readers up to their ears in political machinations and social strife. Laughter is always good.
Sideburns may remember a time when the ability to think and communicate were the applauded byproducts of classical education, earned formally or informally. Sideburns takes the shallow view that possessing either of these faculties somehow makes one a know-it-all.
Surely a man with his faculties and gifts can capture more irony in his cartoons. A more self-effacing comedic retort would have been more in keeping with his profession.
For a good satirist: there are politicians who must be handed their comeuppance; curmudgeons on talk radio and social media who infect our daily lives with blabber; irreverence for authority; a rejection of the social status order to be confronted and plenty of oddball newsmakers on whom Stan can turn his creative fire.
The point is we need Sideburns in the peanut gallery of our political arena helping us to survive life’s stresses by at least chuckling every morning with our newspaper and cuppa. He does not need to waste time on the fool’s errand of unmasking a mere raconteur.
Note to Sideburns: the reference to the peanut gallery is not sarcasm, but a bow of respect. In the early days of theatre it was where the rowdiest critics sat, raining down heckles and peanuts on performers with whom they disagreed.
April 24, 2018.