Cartoons by their very nature provoke. They incite reaction to a particular issue.

This specific issue of allowing guns in the hands of classroom teachers is certainly a provocative issue, a hot-button topic that is debated around kitchen tables and in the hallowed halls of Congress.

Even from the podium at the White House.

A cartoon which appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the DeSoto Times-Tribune has apparently spawned a great deal of discussion as to whether guns in the hands of teachers, rather than safety resource officers or trained law enforcement, should be permitted.

The image of a teacher with a gun pointed — not at students — but at an unseen intruder at the back of the classroom, albeit over the heads of students, illustrates that very point.

It’s an image that is shocking to see — and in reality — that very prospect of guns being wielded by educators on a regular basis — is a shocking premise, indeed.

Perhaps our society has regressed to the point that it has become so lawless, so savage in its nature that possession of weapons by teachers has become an imperative necessity in order to protect the most vulnerable among us, our children.

Maybe so, maybe not.

The intent or purpose of a cartoon — at the end of the day it is just that — a cartoon — can bring into focus the debate on that subject that reams and reams of editorials cannot.

Throughout our history, illustrated cartoons have pilloried politicians accused of graft and corruption, they have made us laugh — they have made us cry. In short, they have made us think.

Heaven help us in this world in which we live that a cartoon makes us take leave of our senses for a moment to effectively “shoot the messenger,” which in this case is a newspaper attempting to engage and enlighten its readership on any particular subject.

If this newspaper, or any newspaper for that matter, retreated in its reaction to and reporting of world or local events to the timid, safe confines of never publishing anything, whether it be a cartoon or a column — just because someone might be offended — then we would be abrogating that sacred duty of a newspaper which is to publish “without fear or favor” and to seek the truth without equivocation.

We live in a society that unfortunately has divided people of this nation into two distinctly separate camps or political tribes — each with an ever-looping, ever-constant echo chamber which solidifies and stagnates not enlightens or informs.

What ever happened to the days when people read a variety of news publications in order to shape their views or watched a variety of news programs?

As my late mama used to say — that would seem to make for a well-rounded man or person.

Instead, we have largely become a society in which we are constantly preaching to the choir. There are no new converts to be had. We simply damn the souls of people we don’t agree with and never try to understand their viewpoint or persuade them — gently, or otherwise.

As a society we are galloping towards idiocy and rigid conformity. We make no room in our minds, let alone our hearts, for an opposing point of view.

God help us to have tolerance, to speak with loving kindness toward one another, to be civil in our discourse, even if we don’t agree with one another, all of the time.

There will be things on these editorial pages from time to time that you as  the reader might not agree with, and some, we hope that you agree heartily with.

Every column published on these pages is the express opinion of the writer and is not sanctioned by the newspaper and should never be taken to an endorsement of one idea or political philosophy over another, unless it is so stated.

Surely we are mature enough to entertain opposing ideas in the free marketplace of ideas or else, we should wall ourselves off to the outside world and retreat to the safe bunkers of narrow-mindedness.

In this writer’s view, we need less preaching to the choir, less finger-pointing and more listening to one another. Let’s put things in their proper perspective.

ROBERT LEE LONG  is the Community Editor. He may be contacted at or at 662-429-6397, ext. 252.

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