An oddball story that has only been seen on comics sites because it contains the word “cartoonist” or “cartoon” and keeps showing up on everyone’s Google news dump, is still fairly incredible in its own right. However, to really get all the excitement, you probably need to live in Renton, WA., a quiet Seattle suburb that was rocked by a scandal involving cartoon mockery of the police department.
When animated cartoons ribbing the police over various internal affairs infractions began showing up earlier this year – posted by one Mr. Fuddlesticks — the Renton police dept. acted with alarm, labeling them cyberstalking and seeking a court order to get the name of the perp from Google. At this point, the story seemed to be one of First amendment rights, and got more media attention.
However, in a shocking twist — which must have actually been known all along by those inside the department — Mr. Fuddlesticks was actually a sergeant within the department itself!
An 87-page report details the investigation, which ended with the amateur Miyazaki being demoted, along with a higher ranking official who knew about it — and gave advice on how to upload videos — also getting a demotion .
The sergeant created an anonymous e-mail to post the video, the report said, and a deputy chief advised him to post it from the library to keep from getting caught.
The sergeant claimed the video should be protected by his First Amendment rights. The department disagreed, demoted him to officer and reassigned him. The deputy chief was demoted to sergeant.
Another sergeant and acting sergeant received reprimands for not sharing their knowledge of the video.
This piece has more background. When we originally heard this story, it sounded like a cranky police department getting a little hot under the collar. But now it’s either the story of a heroic whistle blower with access to basic animation and voice encoding software, or of an ungrateful snitch.
One thing we do know, unless you are a member of the Renton police department, watching these “satirical” cartoons is a painful process. We only made it 30 seconds into the one above.
Perhaps the whole matter could form the basis of an animated sequel to “Internal Affairs.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.