Published: 02/19/2019 09:57:05
On Wednesday, we’ll feature a new panel of daily comics, “Close to Home,” which has long been part of our Sunday comics section’s lineup. On Sunday, we’ll be launching “Born Loser,” a comic strip that was released nationwide in 1964.
Both comics replace “Non Sequitur,” a favorite of some people, but the one we dropped last week after learning that strip writer Wiley Miller placed a vulgar remark hidden in the strip. of February 10.
I heard from dozens of readers on Friday and over the weekend. They were mostly avid “Non Sequitur” fans, and most had similar reactions, ranging from “Can you explain what he wrote because I can barely see it?” to “I agree that was offensive, but can you give it a second chance?”
Both are fair points that deserve a bit more explanation.
But first, let me give you a little more context.
In the February 10 comic featuring the “Leonardo Bear-Vinci” character, the middle panel included the words “we lovingly say fuck you Trump” in lowercase.
Nobody at Monitor noticed the message, and we never heard from any reader. In fact, we weren’t aware of the problem until late Tuesday. By Wednesday morning it was clear what had happened.
Miller said he inserted the language weeks earlier in the president’s frustration and intended to go back to erase it but forgot. This comic has been published in over 700 newspapers across the country. That same day, before most people noticed, Miller tweeted, “Some of my sharp-eyed readers spotted a little Leonardo Bear-Vinci Easter egg. Can you find it?”
This “easter egg” has caused a bit of a mess that newspapers across the country have had to deal with in recent days.
We stopped streaming “Non Sequitur” on Thursday and have included a note to readers on the comics page. Many other newspapers have had the same reaction, and the list is growing day by day.
We made the cut for one simple reason. It broke a fundamental tenet of journalism. We do not plagiarize. We do not fabricate stories or sources. We do not process photos. And we don’t insert hidden messages into our stories, news pages, or even our comics, no matter how hard to find. All of these have the potential to undermine our credibility, which has always driven our business. This is why we have a zero tolerance policy and why we have decided to discontinue “Non Sequitur”.
Some of those who emailed me were quick to make the political link. They were wondering if we were killing the gang out of fear because they were attacking President Trump. Others have said comics like “Non Sequitur” are an essential part of standing up against the president.
Our publication has never hesitated to take a stand on its editorial pages. This has certainly been true in our editorial coverage of the current administration. But we strive to do so in clear terms and in ways that elevate the conversation, not with hidden messages.
Newspapers exist as an honest reflection of the communities they serve. You should never have to read between the lines, no matter how small.