For Whom the Bell Toles

Loutish Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles this week pulled a neat trick: He managed to draw a cartoon so flagrantly offensive to military men and women that it prompted a written protest from all six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It is rare that we all put our hand to one letter,” they wrote in a Jan. 31 letter to Post Managing Editor Philip Bennett, “but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered.” Truly. The offending cartoon, which was published on Jan. 29, uses as its central prop a hospitalized US serviceman who has lost both arms and legs. At his bedside is a “Dr. Rumsfeld,” who declares, “I’m listing your condition as ‘battle hardened.’” The chiefs’ letter fumed, “Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central them of a cartoon is beyond tasteless.” They expressed disbelief that the Post would entertain “such a callous depiction of those who have volunteered to defend this nation, and, as a result, have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds.” The letter was signed by Gen. Peter Pace, JCS Chairman; Gen. Edmund Giambastiani, JCS Vice Chairman; Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force; Gen. Michael Hagee, Marine Corps; Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army; and Adm. Michael Mullen, Navy. In case you are interested, both Toles and Bennett can be contacted at The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.