Editorial cartoons are meant to be provocative. 

That is their nature. 

Newspapers have a long tradition of publishing controversial cartoons. 

The most provocative and controversial newspaper cartoons helped spark the American Revolution. 

The Valdosta Daily Times intentionally publishes those kinds of editorial cartoons. 

They are intended to stimulate conversation and make people think. 

We believe an editorial page should be a robust marketplace of ideas and not merely a mouthpiece for those in positions of power. 

The primary purpose behind editorial cartoons, ironically, is not to be funny. The art form is intended to push buttons with a tinge of humor or sarcasm. 

The newspaper gets more response from editorial cartoons that readers disagree with than anything else we publish, including guest columns and letters to the editor. 

Some want to know why so many of the cartoons skewer the president. 

Think about it. 

Editorial cartoons have always targeted U.S. presidents, regardless of political party. 

Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were all spoofed and panned in editorial cartoons. 

President Trump may be drawn more than his predecessors for a few different reasons, among those reasons are the facts Trump himself is acerbic and extreme with his rhetoric, political parties are more polarized than in the recent past, the president's supporters and critics are equally passionate, the president says things and tweets things that make him an easy target and —frankly — he's just easy to draw. 

Clay Bennett, editorial cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, is one of the top cartoonist in the nation, and he spoke to newspaper leaders at the Tennessee Press Association summer convention last week. Bennett, by all accounts a liberal cartoonist, talked about the importance of thought-provoking cartoons.

Bennett's publisher, Jeff DeLoach, is far from liberal. Still, his conservative boss said he embraces Bennett's work and regards it as an important part of the newspaper's legacy and success. Bennett and DeLoach are two men who are on opposite sides of the political spectrum but who seem to respect one another to no end. 

Their good-natured banter, despite political differences, is refreshing. They seem to understand what we would hope all readers would understand and that is political discourse and an open, free marketplace of ideas are good for a community, good for the state and nation and good for the cause of freedom. 

We can do a better job of trying to find more conservative cartoons and will make a stronger effort. To be honest, liberal cartoons are far more common and consistently conservative cartoons can be difficult to find. 

But we'll work on the balance, just like we work to publish both conservative and progressive columns and letters to the editor. 

Neither voice should be silenced.

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