Vermont’s Bennington Banner was forced to print an apology to its readers for a cartoon that was out of line, in poor taste, and utterly disgraceful. It pictures a pile of dead bodies with the caption “whatever happens in Vegas...”
It spurred an intense backlash from readers for its poor taste. It struck very close to home, as one of the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas was from nearby East Dorset. The apology said that while they believe a national conversation has to happen about firearms, this was in bad taste and they regret publishing it. They also tried to give the cartoon’s creator, Randall Enos, some cover by saying his cartoon was meant to show how next to nothing will come on the gun control policy front even after such carnage (via WaPo):
Shame on you ???? from a paper in Vermont pic.twitter.com/UQk4yLcmGK— KAYA (@KayaJones) October 4, 2017
The cartoon’s caption was a play on the tourism slogan, “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The news outlet’s president, Fredric Rutberg, said in a statement that the “decision to publish was made in haste” and “insensitive.”
A news release posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page said: “Our interpretation of Randall Enos’ cartoon was that little would be done with regard to gun control measures in the United States even after such an unprecedented tragedy. …We regret publishing the cartoon.”
Almost immediately after the cartoon appeared Monday, readers lashed out on social media, calling it “deplorable” and “disgusting.” Many people called for a boycott of the paper.
Adding to the anger was the fact that Sandy Casey, a native of nearby Dorset, Vt., was among the dozens of people killed in Las Vegas. Casey, 35, was a special-education teacher living in Redondo Beach, Calif., at the time of her death. She attended the Las Vegas concert with her fiance and a friend, the Burlington Free Press reported.
From the Bennington Banner Facebook page:
To our readers:
Publishing the cartoon by Randall Enos in Tuesday's Banner was not the right time or the right place, especially since Sunday's night's mass shooting hit so close to home for our readers and neighbors.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Sandy Casey, originally from East Dorset, Vermont, who are enduring grief beyond compare today. We apologize to them and others affected.
Our interpretation of Randall Enos' cartoon was that little would be done with regard to gun control measures in the United States even after such an unprecedented tragedy. While we believe that is a conversation that needs to happen in this country, we must first mourn and honor the victims and provide comfort to their families and friends.
We regret publishing the cartoon.
For all other inquiries on the cartoon, we would direct them to Cagle Cartoons, which distributes Randall Enos' work.
Executive Editor, New England Newspapers Inc.
On October 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock checked into a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and proceeded to fire upon concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival. Twenty-two thousand people were in attendance. Paddock killed 59 people and wounded another 527. He killed himself before authorities could apprehend him. We still don’t know much about him other than he was independently wealthy and a heavy gambler. We don’t know his religious affiliation, his political leanings, or his motives—all of which will surely be revealed in due time.
In the meantime, this is a textbook example of bad taste, but at least the paper apologized for this disgraceful cartoon. What were you guys thinking?