NEW ORLEANS (CBSDC/AP) — Political cartoons, one of which features President Barack Obama with a bullet hole in his head, that were drawn by a middle-school student as part of an assignment are coming under fire from some parents.
The display also included a cartoon with a grinning Mitt Romney in the foreground, and a sinister-looking Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on either side of a poster showing the president’s face and the caption “Obama Season.” In a series of old Warner Brothers cartoons, the two characters argued about whether it was duck or rabbit season.
Both images were drawn for a social studies class at Boyet Junior High in Slidell, La. When administrators learned of the objections, they took down the entire display, said Meredith Mendez, spokeswoman for St. Tammany Parish Schools Superintendent Trey Folse.
She quoted Folse as saying the images and cartoons covered the political spectrum.
Other than that, Folse would say only that the school system “takes matters such as this very seriously,” is investigating, and will take “appropriate disciplinary action” once all facts are known and legal requirements are met. Officials declined requests from The Associated Press to talk with the teacher and principal at the school, located in a suburb of New Orleans.
The flap comes more than three months after a Halloween-themed graphic featuring a zombie Obama with a bullet hole in his forehead provoked widespread outrage and the attention of the Secret Service when a local Republican committee in Virginia used it to scare up interest in Halloween parade political activities.
Karen Stampley, who brought the Louisiana students’ cartoons to the public’s attention, said she focused on several that had upset her daughter, who attends Boyet but is not in the class that drew the pictures. She said her daughter mentioned them after another relative talked about “blatant disrespect for” and hatred of the president.
“She said, ‘I just turn my head, Mama. I just can’t stand to look at it,’” Stampley said.
After her daughter described them, she went to look for herself. “Several were blatantly disrespectful and derogatory,” she said.
Stampley said she didn’t look at every drawing. “I did not see them all because the school asked us to leave. Someone saw us taking pictures and alerted the office,” she said.
She said she brought her photographs to the principal’s attention before talking to WDSU-TV, which first reported on the drawings. The television station also posted photos of the controversial images on their website.
James “Gus” Davis, president of the Covington branch of the NAACP, said he worried that the pictures may have reflected a teacher’s prejudice.
“The disrespecting of the president of the United States, whether you like him or not — if you are an educator, you do not take that into the school,” he said.
Davis said he had seen only the cell-phone photographs taken by Stampley. She said she photographed the “worst” drawings.
The four photographs she sent The Associated Press also included one of what appeared to be a mixed crowd of black and white, young and old people saying “Bring back ‘our’ America!!” on one side of the Washington Monument while, on the other side, a confused-looking Obama shrugged his shoulders below a thought balloon filled with question marks and exclamation marks.
The fourth shows the president’s face, a red map marked “Libya,” and a question that is illegible in the photo except for the last word and punctuation: “Obomba?”
An assignment simply to draw political cartoons, without any suggestion about what slant to take, would not be a bad one, Davis said. “I’m not prejudging. The school board is investigating this,” he said.
Stampley said she would have had a problem with an image of a bullet hole drawn on the head of any candidate, such as the Republicans in the 2012 race. “It’s not about party affiliation; it’s not about color of the skin. It’s about hatred — about poisoning the mind of our youth with hatred.”
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