Former Birmingham political cartoonist reacts to attacks in France

(WIAT 42)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)- For thirty years, Scott Stantis has made a living out of making fun of people. He’s an editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, but before heading to the Windy City he spent thirteen years doing the same job with the Birmingham News. “Part of my job description is to tick you off,” he said. “When that’s your stock and trade, sometimes people are going to take umbrage, sometimes violent umbrage; or, at least threaten it.”

The attacks on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, caused outrage and grief around the world. Stantis is no exception. He added, however, that he was not surprised, citing the ever-present tension in Europe regarding political cartoons, namely those aimed at Islam. “These attacks in Paris did not blow up because of a very deeply thought out twelve-hundred word opinion piece,” said Stantis. “This happened because cartoons are emotional things that create an emotional response.”

While the tragedy in France causes pain across the world, Stantis urged the American people to take note of the liberty they enjoy. “Freedom often isn’t free. It takes sacrafice, it takes courage,” he said. At the same time, he hopes other newspapers take the same measure the Chicago Tribune. The paper is “tightening security measures pretty significantly,” according to Stantis. “They need to recognize we [political cartoonists] are targets,” he said. “We [as people] tend to not admit we’re afraid. I’m not sure why, but fear is actually a really good emotion.”

“The trick is, to let the fear inform you.”

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