Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019 | 2 a.m.
In its Sunday edition this past weekend, the Sun published a syndicated editorial cartoon that depicted an FBI agent standing over the bleeding body of Julius Caesar and stating to Caesar’s slayers that they should have removed the emperor using the 25th Amendment instead of assassinating him.
We regret publishing this cartoon, and we apologize to our readers for placing it in our pages.
Although we interpreted the column as a criticism of the FBI for its reported consideration of a plot to use the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump — a figurative stab in the back — readers contacted us with concerns that it promoted violence against Trump.
Upon reflection, we understand those concerns. And we want to take this opportunity to state unequivocally that we would never knowingly promote violence.
The Sun has been highly critical of Trump, but in no way would we purposely suggest that he or anyone else be harmed. To the contrary, we believe at our core that civil discourse and nonviolent protest are the appropriate ways to resolve disagreements and express political dissent.
In these divisive times, it’s easy to do or say something that can be found offensive, hurtful or irresponsible, even if that wasn’t the intent.
That appears to be the case with the cartoonist, Kirk Walters from the Toledo Blade. We reached out to him, and he told us by email that the cartoon was intended as “not just a defense of Donald Trump, but of all presidents.”
“The cartoon has nothing to do with Trump. It has everything to do with the possibility of a small group of individuals using the 25th Amendment as a bloodless coup against a sitting president,” Walters said.
Walters added that he was caught off-guard by concerns about the cartoon promoting violence, saying, “It’s not often one of my cartoons gets so spectacularly misread.”
Walters said that while he didn’t vote for Trump, or for Hillary Clinton, he wanted Trump to do well.
“It’s important for our nation he does so,” he said.
That said, the reality is that some individuals interpreted the message differently, and in publishing it we inadvertently offended them. Thus, we wish we hadn’t published it.
We hope that in acknowledging our regrets, we have displayed our willingness to listen and respond to concerns that are brought to us by well-meaning members of our community. At a time when all too many people are actively and purposely promoting hatred, inciting violence, working to divide Americans and taking a never-back-down stance, we feel it’s important to be open to conversation and self-reflection.
So if we were given the chance for a do-over here, we would have looked for another cartoon.
We don’t have that chance, unfortunately, so we felt it was incumbent upon us to explain our actions, publicly acknowledge the concerns that were brought to our attention and express our misgivings.
We know that the opinion/editorial content we publish won’t please everyone. But when concerns this serious are brought to our attention, we’ll definitely pay attention to them. And when it’s called for — as in this case — we’ll express our contrition.