Editorial cartoon draws fire from the military

A political cartoon in the Washington Post is no joke to the military.

The cartoon shows a soldier laying in a hospital bed, without arms or legs and it's causing some controversy. One local man is calling it senseless.

The cartoon is critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and tonight it's being criticized all over the country as poor taste.

Ray Funderburk says the political cartoon dishonors soldiers everywhere.

"The fact you have a soldier laying there, with no arms, no legs and a bandage on his head completely at the mercy of anyone because he can not take care of himself," said Funderburk, of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Funderburk lives in Southaven but speaks nationally for the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The cartoon features a patient who, presumably, lost both arms and legs in combat. Standing next to him is a character with a name tag, reading Dr. Rumsfeld. And a bubble above his head says "I'm listing your condition as battle-hardened."

"There's ways to do these things without bringing harm and pain and suffering of our troops," said Funderburk.

"Most editorial cartoonists are cynical and they have a strong point of view or they wouldn't be a political cartoonist," said Otis Sanford, managing editor of The Commercial Appeal.

He wouldn't comment on the cartoon, because the CA didn't run it on their editorial page.

The cartoon first ran in Sunday's Washington Post.

Since then, the Post has defended its cartoonist from increasing heat.

In general, Sanford says political cartoonists earn their living stretching situations.

"They push the envelope," said Sanford. "They exaggerate. They want to make a strong editorial comment based on what they draw."

And, by all accounts, this one did.

All six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed a strong letter to The Washington Post criticizing the cartoon.

The paper published a column saying it was about the state of the Army, but was not intended to demean wounded soldiers.