UPDATE: The New York Post apologized for the cartoon—sort of. Here's the bulk of the Post's apology:
"[The cartoon] was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. ...
"But it has been taken as something else—as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
"However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past—and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
"To them, no apology is due.
"Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon—even as the opportunists seek to make it something else."
Not much of an apology. Does it stem your anger?
The New York Post ran this cartoon in print and online depicting the economic stimulus bill as a monkey being shot dead by police. The police officers are apparently a reference to Connecticut cops who recently shot a 200-pound chimpanzee.
The New York Times said Al Sharpton expressed concern over the cartoon. So did New York Governor David Paterson—even though he hadn't seen it. A New York city councilman called for a boycott of the Post. A professor of communications at the University of Illinois Chicago called the cartoon racist.
What do you think? Is it racist?
Given the reference to the incident involving Connecticut police shooting a chimp, I don't think it is—explicitly. At least no more than Barack Obama's "lipstick on a pig" statement was sexist.
Ultimately, whether the cartoon is racist or not, when does this become a free speech issue? When should defenders of the First Amendment defend this cartoon?
When a society begins criticizing cartoons it's a slippery slope to the reactions of religious fundamentalists, like radical Muslims who respond with outrage over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed?