About ten years ago, when I still worked at The TAB, one of our reporters was writing a story about how a group of political insiders was looking to recruit a candidate to run against then-alderman (and habitual thorn in the side of then-Mayor Cohen) Ken Parker.
To illustrate the story, our art department (yes, The TAB once had an art department!) created an image of Parker with a target over his face. (Get it? They were targeting Parker for the next election.) Ken saw the image, told me he found it very unsettling to see a target on his face, thought his parents would find it unsettling, and persuaded me not to publish it. I’m glad Ken called. I glad we didn’t print it.
I was reminded of that event about two weeks ago when the Newton Village Alliance posted a similar photograph (I won’t publish it here but if you want to see it, here’s a link) on their Newton Forum blog in reference to the Newton Charter Commission’s straw vote to do away with Ward City Councilors as part of creating a smaller City Council.
The Newton Village Alliance published this same photo again this week in its most recent email newsletter under the headline “Local Challenges to Local Democracy.” I figure if I’ve seen this photo twice — and I’m hardly on the Friends of the NVA Christmas Card list — perhaps it has circulated elsewhere too.
The image, of course, is misleading. It suggests that the Charter Commission actually targeted these eight individuals to be removed from the City Council. The truth is, the Charter Commission proposed eliminating eight ward seats, which happen to be occupied by those eight individuals with those targets on their faces.
But that’s not the worst part. As I learned one decade ago, placing a target on someone’s face to illustrate a political point is a bad choice for a metaphor, especially in an age of gun violence. It reflects the type of gutter politics common on the national level but don’t need here. I’m glad we never printed that Ken Parker image in the TAB. I hope the NVA will immediately stop distributing its image too.