Public Relations 101: Responding to the More Serious Complaints

In November, I ran this strip:

Unfortunately, it elicited an angry email, which you’ll see below.

Now normally when I get angry emails, I ignore them.  But sometimes due to the sensitive nature of the complaint, I have to take it a little more seriously and give it a more thoughtful reply.

So here is the complaint:

From: (Name Deleted)
Subject: Recent Strip re Italian Opera

Why do the various vermin who infest and infect the various media venues find it necessary to continually insult not only Italian-Americans, but also Italian culture as well?  Why dont you miserable, cowardly bigots pick on some other group for a change?

And here is my reply.


To:                   (name deleted)
Date:               February 26, 2011

What group would you suggest?

He hasn’t written back.

65 thoughts on “Public Relations 101: Responding to the More Serious Complaints

  1. That’s funny. And the strip was funny too. Screw him if he can’t take a joke.

  2. You offered the golden moment, an opportunity to vent on some other, un-perceived downtrodden stereo-types.
    Wagner, fat Germans singing, Promoting anti-semitism.
    Alban Berg promoting atonal music.

  3. Im Irish I would appreciate some Irish jokes thrown in the mix please… lol Im also blonde so please go to town 😉

  4. I am an Italian American – and personally, I thought it was hysterical. If you can’t make fun of yourself, then you ar all too uptight an din need of a life!

  5. As an Italian-American, I’m not offended in the least. I find it hilarious! (Let’s face it – most Italian opera singers ARE rather rotund…).

  6. It’s not you. It’s Godfather, Godfather II, Godfather III, Goodfellas, Casino, Brascoe…..need I say more?

  7. Priceless! I don’t know what made me laugh more – the strip or your comment.

  8. Why do you need our approval? Most of us suck, and not in a very good or normal way!

  9. I would think that Italians would take more offense to Jersey Shore, than they would a comic strip.

  10. You could have substituted “Englishmen” for Italians and “Gilbert and Sullivan” for “opera”.

  11. “Fat Italians yelling” could be any Sunday dinner in a lot of our houses. You mean they could be singing opera instead?

  12. If you really wish to piss people of, no body as of late (except for may be the Simpsons and other such shows) had made any good jokes about those with disabilities. Man, I laugh at myself all the time – if I can’t laugh at myself (and, tech, I am disabled), then what’s the point in life? If you’re going for less risky population target, then aim one at the Irish or the American Indians. Even better, you should visit any DC Metro and just listen to the women henpeck their significant others. I swear, this woman this afternoon was shouting at the top of her lungs: “Are you joking me? Are you joking me?” and then proceeded to yell at her boyfriend (pushing their kind in a stroller) and the guitar man only played louder. I had to walk away quickly (not in an easy feat, I’m in a walking cast with a gimpy leg) because I was busting up laughing. Rich comic fodder, right there, on my way to work 🙂

  13. Great reply. Reminded me of Gary Larson’s response to his critics. For those unfamiliar with it he did a self-portrait, stuck both index fingers into his mouth, pulled his mouth open and stuck out his tongue.

  14. I love the letter and I love the response! But substituting “ethnic group of your choice” just doesn’t have the same Pizzazz.

    And watch it Sean, eh?

    from Italian-opera-lover

  15. This was funny!… its OPERA singers…. sheesh

    what people fail to realize, is that someone always has to be the victim of the joke.. (the reason why its funny)

    Without the ‘butt’ of the joke, jokes dont exist…
    You keep on going with them strips…. I support you.
    (and thats all that really matters.

  16. He said various vermin, so obviously he’s just mad at Rat not Stephan… People know Rat isn’t a real person right?

  17. Brilliant reply… and hilarious strip. There are some peeps who will NEVER be able to take a joke. I’m sure you hear from almost all of ’em ;}

  18. You can tell he’s not a REAL Italian-American! Cause we have an sense of humor! I mean, look at us! 😀

  19. Everybody knows you’re greek. How could anyone get mad at a greek for making fun of the greeks? Just make sure youse leave us Sicilians outta your jokes! Or maybe youse be sleepin with the fish! Capisce?

  20. He called them VERMIN???? Oh, the nerve!!

    I think Guard Duck and Snuffles need to get their Grenade Throwing Gophers to march over there and give him what for!!!

    Wait…question…what exactly is “what for”?

  21. I’m a fat American whose ancestors are from Italy… I thought it was great…. what sound does an Italian helicopter make? WOP, WOP, WOP, WOP… lol

  22. If these complainers don’t like it, why do they read your strip ? I find you somewhat twisted and love it.

  23. I’m offended! I’m offended that you haven’t picked on any Irish, Danish, Austrian, Polish – Americans yet!

  24. I’m sure your email actually began with the following:

    “Ha, ha. Thanks, [Name Deleted] I appreciate that.”

  25. I’m French, Danish, German, and Native American. I have OCD and was homeschooled. Go ahead and make fun of those. Tell the haters you got permission. 😉

  26. Forget ethnic jokes. How about addressing “Day of Rage.” That’s the latest media buzz word. I could see the crocs or Rat on the point of something like that! 😀

  27. I am Italian and took no offense-yours was a funny comic, not some loud mouth drunk going off calling Italians all slurs. As for picking on another group, why not pick on the idiots that do not like PBS-THEY ARE THE REAL BIGGOTS!!!

  28. Pingback: Top Posts —

  29. ‘cowardly bigots’? In my PC world anyone who is openly a bigot is not a coward. Just out of work. I love to say to my co-workers Haaalllooo Ziba-nayba! and see who’s head spins.

  30. LoL! Best reply ever! Yeah probally been said a million times so far..But Im going to say it again 😀

  31. hey! I think you make a valid point! besides, you’re a cartoonist! you’re SUPPOSED to make fun of someone, or it’s not funny. that’s how it works! this person needs a sense of humor. and he shouldn’t be emailing in the first place, because duh, that’s kinda what some Operas are! they’re more detailed than Rat suggests, but yeah, that’s what they are. and We’re proud of it! 😀

  32. Frankly, I’m jealous. You vermin cartoonists NEVER make jokes about Danes. (Marmaduke doesn’t count.)

  33. Um, comedy pokes fun at people, politics, ideas. I decided long ago to stop trying to be PC and instead be UO (unintentionally offensive).

    Self-censorship stifles creativity.

  34. Whew! I thought all the Itallian-Americans were still stuck on the Itallian flag still being used to misrepresent Itallian–Americans on JERSEY SHORE. Glad to see they moved on. Please note:mispellings of Ittalian are like, you know… Intentional. Forgedaboudit! Gedouddahere!

  35. the obvious response to your question … the belgians – they f**ked up everything in WWI.

  36. Funny how every Italian restaurant I go into has posters from Mobster movies or shows in their bar..”Big Al” as a stand alone…so whos stereotyping whom

  37. I am of Italian descent and found this hysterical. If he wants something to complain about, why not Jersey Shore? Those fools make Italians look worse than John Gotti ever could.

  38. How about something poking fun at Viatneamese names? I did an ESL letter with a character named Dung Phuk, who worked at his father’s restaurant, Phuk Yoo.

  39. How about Asians in the library at UCLA? Alexandra Wallace is very controversial.

  40. I think polka, especially Mexican polka, has gone unscathed too long!!! One more thing: I have a bad joke that gonna voids you to add me to “spam”.
    It goes like this:
    There are 3 types of people in the world: those who can count, and those who cannot.

    Get it!?!?!? I mentioned 2 not 3 types mentioned so I am the type that can’t count. A classmate named Anne told me that one so if for some reason you decide to use it in a comic strip or anything give credit to Her. Thanks

    PS. It’s such a bad joke I’m almost sure you won’t use it, let alone take the time to read it! U2 is awesome by the way, I have like 2 albums by them (wait no I have 3 cuz I can’t count!)

    ~Nick S.

  41. I’m Sicilian-Polish and I lived in Italy for two years….When we witnessed a minor fender bender with two italians, they promptly got out of their cars, ran over to each other, and started shouting in reallly loud voices (duh) at each other… The rest of the town ran over, too.

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