Doonesbury Cartoons on Frank Sinatra
The Times has received 221 letters commenting on its decision not to print all of Garry Trudeau’s Doon e sbury strips on Frank Sinatra; 206 criticized The Times’ decision and/or praised Trudeau; 15 criticized Trudeau and/or praised Sinatra.
This is a totally subjective judgment based primarily upon what I read in The Times (June 11). Your item stated that Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury cartoon strip, which was running a satire on Frank Sinatra receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Reagan, would not be carried. The strip alluded to Sinatra’s friendships with figures of organized crime.
To my best knowledge, no illegal activities connected with organized crime have ever been proved against Sinatra. But there is no doubt that he was acquainted with, and presumably friends with, some persons of questionable repute. This whole matter of guilt by association makes me very jumpy. I, like some of you, remember the part that attitude played, and the tragedies it provoked, during the Joseph McCarthy era and the whole Communist scare of the 1950s.
My argument is not with Sinatra; I don’t let others pick my friends either. My argument is not with Trudeau; he is talented. I often agree with him and I believe in artistic and creative freedom. In any event I don’t have to read his strip, but like Conrad’s marvelous cartoons I usually do, even when Conrad gets on his anti-abortion soapbox and I hate it. But he is good at his craft, like Trudeau, like Sinatra.
The person who is not so good at his craft is the one, or two or three persons, who suppressed the current strip.
BRANDOCH L. LOVELY
Editor’s Note: The Times risks lawsuits again and again because taking the risk is often the only way to get important information to its readers. Most of the Sinatra panels were withheld, not because of fear of litigation but because the newspaper was strongly advised by its lawyers that they would have substantial problems defending in court any libel suit that might have been filed.