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« By any means necessary | Main | Crime and punishment »

Jun 23, 2011


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Joe Killian

So wait...I was supposed to understand that for some reason we have stereotypical New York/New Jersey mobsters under house arrest in Guilford County, NC?

And that character choice was necessary because no one would have understood that they were criminals if they'd simply been in prison get-ups and talking about the jail situation without any sort of special dialect?

I am incredibly confused.

I will say this -- that does indeed appear to be the same skin color they used for Brenda Jones Fox in a previous cartoon. And many people were then wondering aloud why Brenda Jones Fox, who is a very fair skinned white women, was suddenly black.


If it's not offensive to African Americans,
it's offensive to Guarino?


Long Time Resident

Sorry John Hammer,

Crying crocodile tears does not make up for your little oops as well as your patently unfair and dishonest coverage of many issues. Greensboro is worse off because of the Rhino. It wasn't always this way.

I enjoyed the Rhino, for the most part, for many years.

Now it does more harm than good........


"And many people were then wondering aloud why Brenda Jones Fox, who is a very fair skinned white women, was suddenly black."

Could that have meant a connection
between Fox and Alston?

"New York/New Jersey mobsters under house arrest in Guilford County, NC?"

Happens all the time?
Should some stop digging?


If Hammer failed to receive the benefit of a doubt, he has no one to blame but himself. Last week's coverage of the Rita Danish separation was as slanted a portrayal of the facts as the conservatives on council could have hoped for. His paper undoubtedly carries their water, and while he may not have intended such a blatantly racist act as perceiveed, the Rhino regularly contains content intentionally crafted to cast blacks and liberals in the worst possible light.


How could someone who lived in NY confuse a "dese, dem and dose" accent with Amos and Andy?
How could a drawing of a gentleman with a crew cut be mistaken for an african-american?
Joe Killian does the large bald headed gentleman with a NY accent and legal issues remind you of anyone in Greensboro?
How can so many people so gleefully hop on the train to racism land?

Account Deleted

Dr. John: I don't recall the instance you speak of. I recall talking about Rep. Giffords getting shot in the head and the hateful language you, Spag, Bubba, Firebaugh among others used to describe people who were talking about the ugly rhetoric that preceded the shooting. If you re-visit any of those threads you will find that I never said anyone was to blame for that guys actions. I limited my comments to the hatefulness exhibited by you and others.


The rhino has always had a subtle racist agenda


"Now does everybody understand why they're supposed to be shocked and offended?." -- John Hayes

John Hammer said he found if offensive and that the cartoonist and graphic artists were shocked, I would say yes -- lots of people all around were shocked and offended.


I Googled the phrase "dey puts us." Among the hits: a book about African Americans who served in the Regular Army between the Civil War and World War I; three references to Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery; a Texas Slave Narrative; and a book called Yule Log with a racist chapter title I won't repeat here. Nothing about New York mobsters.

The phrase "three squares and cable" is limited to blog and forum comments from people who may or may not be New York mobsters.

Guilford County Jail Current Inmate List; Report Run on 06/23/11 at 22:05:00; Total = 883

Black or African American male 554
White male 229
White female 48
Black or African American female 37
Indian or Alaskan Native male 8
Asian or Pacific Islander male 4
Other 2
Indian or Alaskan Native female 1
(No specific listing of New York mobsters.)

If it's a cartoon about two black males on house arrest from the Guilford County jail, it does capture the jail's largest demographic, but the way the men are portrayed is, indeed, shocking and offensive. If it's a cartoon about two New York mobsters on house arrest from the Guilford County jail, it's still offensive, but it makes no sense. New York mobsters? What?

Ian McDowell

"How could a drawing of a gentleman with a crew cut be mistaken for an african-american?"

Stereotypical goombahs are known more for pompadours than crewcuts, and that 'do looks pretty darn Wesley Snipes-ian to me. It also more resembles the hairstyle that African-American actor Richard Brooks sported on vintage LAW AND ORDER episodes before he was replaced by a steady stream of Assistant DA Babes than the hairstyles of any mobsters who were prosecuted on that show.

I just bought Otto Penzler's massive Vintage Press paperback THE BIG BOOK OF ADVENTURE STORIES, which collects he-man pulp stories from the 20s to the 50s (it includes tales of Conan, Tarzan, the original and much grittier prose version of Hopalong Cassidy, Zorro and the Cisco Kid, who in the O'Henry story that introduced him was a psychotic villain). Great reading, despite the expected racism and gung-ho colonialism. I do note that every time a black character is introduced, he or she does indeed say "dey," "dem" and even "dose," regardless of whether the character is from the South, Harlem or the Islands (before reading this book, I would have said that dialect was only used by pulp writers creating black characters in stories set in Jamaica and Barbados).

Joe Killian

I think there is much to admire in most of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels but several of them are almost completely unreadable today because of the dialect in which he insisted on writing the speech of nearly all the black characters, whether they were from the Islands or the U.S.

"Live and Let Die," partially set in Harlem, may be the worst.

Nearly all the black characters' prose in that book is rendered in the manner of the two figures in the cartoon.

That's not to say that was the intent of the cartoonist here. But I think it'd be hard for anyone who's ever heard Amos and Andy or any other stereotypical black dialect of that sort not to immediately hear black minstrel voices in their head when reading or writing those lines written in that manner.


Only in Greensboro would most folks jump to the conclusion that these 2 guys in the cartoon are black. Blacks don't talk like that, but people in New York do. It was obvious to me that the coloring was a mistake, not the cartoon itself.


I don't know anything about your jail funding issues.
I'm white.
Race never crossed my mind.
The only two things that struck me were:
(1) Whatever that speech pattern was supposed to be, it was damned painful to read.
(2) Those guys are wearing their monitoring bracelets on the outside of their pants.

Herb Myerson

"racial paranoia is de fuel dat dribes de engine dat dribes dis foym."

may we never run out of partially digested peanuts and corn to feast upon.

bon appetite


As a native New Yorker who has lived among old fashioned Goodfellas in South Brooklyn (surprisingly good neighbors, as long as you stay out of their business) and has worked as a lawyer for the Teamsters union, I can assure you that people in New York do not speak like that. Nobody, outside poorly drawn cartoons & poorly acted movies, does.

The cartoon's dialect does, as others have pointed out, echo the crude portrayals of African-American speech that have been a staple of consciously & unconsciously racist literature for well over a century. Paired with a drawing of two brown-skinned men, the inference was hardly a stretch.

Viewing the decolorized version of the cartoon, I suppose I can see how the dialog might instead represent a non-NYers crude attempt at rendering the stereotypical Brooklyn accent. I still can't see why anyone would choose to depict two NY mobsters in a cartoon about criminals in Greensboro. Perhaps the artist's imagination is as stunted as his drawing ability.

In the big-hearted, live-and-let-live spirit of Brooklyn, I'll take John Hammer's explanation & apology as sincere. But I'll retain a kernel of skepticism about the drafter's original intent.

Long Time Resident

John Hammer may not be a racist, but he is a bigot.


"Let the healing begin anew. Of course we'll have to wait out that firestorm that's about to hit first."

When does the new Truth and Reconciliation process start?

Brandon Burgess

I guess Hammer's theory is plausible. Of course, his paper has always been a forum for anonymous racists to get their message out via "sound of the beep".

Joe Killian

Skip Alston weighs in.

Jim Langer

Increasingly, it seems we need a semiotician on constant vigilance to decode and offer multiple readings to the many permutations of interpretation spilling out of both the papers and the blogosphere. The answer is: the image is ambiguous. Hence, it means (within pretty wide parameters) what the viewer creates as its meaning.

Ed Cone

Alston, via JK: "I don't think it's in John's nature to be intentionally racially offensive in this way and I take him at his word. If a man asks for forgiveness, I think you forgive him. The intent of the cartoonist -- I think he might have had some racial intent possibly. I think John should monitor the cartoons more closely before they go in, and I think he will from now on."

All good, although I think Brooks deserves a break, too.


All good, although I think Brooks deserves a break, too.

Hammer is certainly not to blame in this instance, but I don't agree regarding Brooks. Even he admits there was a previous shading problem with Brenda Fox. A pro would have fixed the problem then, instead of repeating the error, this time with disastrous consequences. Also, Brooks' allusions in this cartoon are obtuse, as has been stated by others. On several levels, Brooks has failed miserably. And above all, he has failed to heed the well-known advisement that comedy can be dangerous.

John Amberg

Whatever John Hammer's intent was, I am not buying his rationale. I, in fact, call total BS on his explanation that he was trying to depict New York-type mobsters/Goodfellas/etc.

I've watched every Mafia-based movie, from the Godfather trilogy on down. No one talked like that in any of the movies. Hells bells, I know people from Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhatten, the Bronx, Yonkers, and Newark, NJ and NO ONE talks like that.

The characters in the cartoon were drawn with dark skin; they were prisoners; they spoke in a dialect that can only be described as an exaggerated Amos 'n Andy. More than anything, the dialect reminded me of Tommy Davidson and Savion Glover in the fine Spike Lee film "Bamboozled." (which is a movie that Hammer and Geof Brooks should watch...maybe they will learn something...but probably not).

Brooks is a dreadful cartoonist. His attempt at humor or satire failed miserably. Hammer should have killed the damn thing. But he let it slide, which proves that Hammer is either appallingly ignorant and racially insensitive or a lousy newspaper editor.

I am done with that rag.

John Hayes

"Increasingly, it seems we need a semiotician on constant vigilance to decode and offer multiple readings to the many permutations of interpretation spilling out of both the papers and the blogosphere. The answer is: the image is ambiguous. Hence, it means (within pretty wide parameters) what the viewer creates as its meaning."

Perfect, except that we don't need one. The semiotician needs himself badly, however. this "firestorm" exists for certain opportunistic politicians, bloggers and people with way too much free time.


"...this 'firestorm' exists for certain opportunistic politicians, bloggers and people with way too much free time."

....as always, and forever.


This is not the first racist cartoon to appear in the Rhino. Deplorable, offensive and intolerable? Yes. Surprising? Not in the slightest. John Hammer can try to hide behind whatever he wants, but the Rhino always has a racist agenda, just sometimes it's so blatant it hammers you over the head.

People are outraged, as they should be. Now is the time to pressure advertisers to stop doing business with the Rhino. There are plenty of other publications in town that would never make this "error."

David Boyd

Too highbrow, Amberg. Der's a 'dey' at 6:45.


We can all see where the community congregates when the seas get choppy.

Thanks Ed.


Like gsostudent, I'm not sure I quite understand what the error was either. Can anybody explain?


Given the current racial makup of the Guilford County jail, what are the odds that two randomly selected inmates would be of the same skin color?


Joe Killian

According to Hammer's statement the error was essentially the coloring choice, or the way that color finally came out.

He says in the statement these are supposed to be "two white males" but acknowledges that it doesn't look that way and that it is offensive as it ran.

He also points out that ironically this is the same skin tone color chosen for the very fair skinned County Manager Brenda Jones Fox in a previous cartoon. As I recall a number of people on the beat thought that she was clearly black in the cartoon and were confused and amused by it.

To my mind though the error was really in the choice to use that dialect. There are so many visual cues that these two people are prisoners -- the prison jump suits, the tracking devices, the fact that they're talking about the fact that they're prisoners. I can't figure out why any dialect at all is necessary for us to get the message these guys are prisoners. As Michele said earlier in this thread...If it really was supposed to be a New York mobster accent, what's the point of that? It doesn't add anything and is in fact incredibly confusing.




Thanks, Joe. So, we are talking about an error in judgment, not an "I accidentally picked the wrong crayon" kind of error, but a "I shouldn't have picked that crayon (again)" error. Is that it?

Joe Killian

I couldn't say what kind of error it actually was.

The statement seems to say that they didn't realize the color would come out that way.

So that's more bad crayon choice than bad judgment, I guess.


Poor crayon. :(


I'm back to being confused as to what the error was then. How could they not know what the color would look like when they used it to questionable effect previously?


Roch, please stop making sense.

Jim Langer

Quitcher crayon ova split ink!


Any paper that would publish something like this in todays world , neds to be off the shelf!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ava Garcia

My first thought was 'oh wow...just...wow'. Then, because I wanted to give proper attention to the reasoning behind it, I went to the uncolored version and considered the cartoonist's explanation that the figures were supposed to be New York mobsters.

I saw it. Clearly.

So, where are we? After the fact, that is.

There is no hue and cry of 'racism' and 'stereotyping' of Italians. Nor was there any 1st Amendment debate. Just some silly references to a show that, at 45, I've never seen in my life and has no point of reference for me.

I am Jewish and married to a Hispanic. We find ourselves the butt of so many jokes and rants by black leaders and comedians that it's almost a novelty when controversy erupts and neither of us is the bad guy.

What you think of the cartoon, its' quality or its' message is your business. But to demonize anyone, especially in this day and time as racist when you don't have the same sense of outrage when others are stereotyped on their race, sex, national origin, age, etc. absolutely makes you a hypocrite.

I'll worry more about this when I don't have to deal with a President that isn't in league with terrorists and trying to destroy Israel, when La Raza isn't trying to convince me that the 67% of illegals who are utilizing every entitlement program we have aren't doing any damage to us economically, and when not a day goes by that Farrakhan and CAIR forget to call for whites and Jews to subsequently be wiped off the face of the planet, only then will I look once again at this cartoon and wonder if it's really something I should care about.

the racist rhino

For more information on the campaign against the Rhino Times’ racism, visit http://www.theracistrhino.wordpress.com

Steven Smith

I laughed when I first saw it. Thought about the message for a second about the irony of the new jail cost followed by more cost for house arrest. Waste of taxpayer dollars. Lastly I thought they picked the color for the fact that blacks outnumber whites in jail and was pleasantly surprised they had the guts to do it. I then turned the page and forgot about it.

Today I read the big blue apology at how it was supposed to have been "two white men" and thinking it to be a total pander. Pander to the black community at the expense of the white community who will let it go as we always do. Maybe Pander Times would be more appopriate. Weak move John Hammer.

Fred Gregory

From Jeff Sykes'rant above:

"But since you bring it up, can you point to a time where a left-wing pundit's hyperbole led to a prominent conservative being shot in the head at close range?

Also, can you point to an instance where a left-wing pundit or "prominent liberal" urged violence against conservatives and was not called to account and punished?"

The below detailed incident and investigation will probably fail to satisfy Jeff's ( IQ 142; Cum Laude )challenge because of the domestic angle. I am speaking of something which has gained hardly any notice from the MSM but it blunts both of his overwrought questions.

New Tone… Top Democrat Indicted For St. Louis BOMBING (Video)

July 7, 2011

"A former Democratic political operative has been indicted by federal authorities for allegedly planting a bomb in a CLayton parking garage in 2008. The bomb went off, seriously injuring a Clayton attorney. Police believe he was not the bomber’s intended target.

Milton Ohlsen III nicknamed “Skip” is well known to law enforcement. He’s also well known in Democratic political circles. The feds now say he’s the one who planted a bomb in a garage at 190 Carondolet plaza in Clayton on October 15, 2008.

Federal prosecutors say Ohlsen made the bomb and put it in the parking garage where it went off and injured clayton attorney John Gillis.

Federal agents say Gillis was the wrong target. They say Ohlsen was actually trying to kill attorney Richard Eisen who drove a similar car. Eisen represented Ohlsen’s wife in a messy divorce case.

Starting in 2004 Ohlsen was used as a consultant by the Missouri Democratic party. He even had lunch at the governor’s mansion with then-governor Bob Holden.

The bombing victim John L. Gillis said he was doing “reasonably well” after receiving a series of skin grafts to treat burns caused by the bombing. "

Please don't bother with any phony crocodile hand wrining, Jeff; but you do need to get a grip.

Oh and finally .. Frack Baby, Frack !

Brandon Burgess

This story will probably fail to satisfy Jeff's request because it isn't a story of a democratic pundit or prominent democrat inciting violence toward conservatives.

It is a story about a democrat who tried to kill his wife's lawyer. Close, but no cigar.

Fred Gregory

Wisconsin Democrat Party Spokesman Calls For Violence Against Republicans, Used To Write For The Washington Post And The Onion

And now… a special message about the importance of civility in politics, brought to you by the same people who continually claim the Tea Party is a bunch of violent extremists.

A Tweet from Graeme Zielinski, the Communications Director for the Wisconsin State Democratic Party. Would you be surprised to learn he used to be a “reporter” for The Washington Post, who suggests on the 45th anniversary of Medicare to celebrate by punching a Repuplican .

It’s comforting to know that our intellectual superiors on the left like Mr. Zielinski are holding themselves accountable on that whole new civility in politics thing.

Listening Jeffrey ?

This story will probably fail to satisfy Jeff's request because it isn't a story of a democratic pundit or prominent democrat inciting violence toward conservatives.

It, however, would be appropriate if Jeff were to chime in being that this is a response to his challenge.

Account Deleted

Frog: I don't conversate with Fred, Bubba or a few others of their kind because they are ranters who like to hurl personal invective but cower at the thought of having to defend their lunatic ravings in person.

I've come across their kind repeatedly in my life. They are usually small people, or the clumsy type, and feed off the Napoleon complex.

I also don't hold on to threads for days on end, like George Castanza searching for a perfect reply. That's the territory of people in retirement who have nothing better to do but count the ever shrinking number of days they have left to live.

I saw a great example of it in the recent few days I spent with an 89 year old woman raving at the television and responding to each word on the news crawler on Fox News as if it was a personal message to her. Their lives are drawing to a close and it helps ease their minds to cling oh so tightly to the memory of how it used to be and the certainty of a simpler world.

I know the world is complicated, and technology and communication advancements help to flood us with information. It's confusing to simpler minds that are unable to recall or recognize the subtleties of life that make is worth living.


I suppose it's your call to characterize your challenge as a ship that passes under the cover of darkness.


"...but cower at the thought of having to defend their lunatic ravings in person."

Ah! The little man speaks again.

You issued the challenge, sonny. Come find me.

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