I remember when I posted a shitty, tasteless comic based on a tragedy.
It was not recieved well, and I apologized wholeheartedly for it.
I thought it was funny at the time. Then I found out how fucking serious it was.
On the other hand, a space shuttle EXPLODING is not funny, in any way. Before 9/11, a plane crashing into a building might have been construed as funny. I had no idea what had really happened, I thought it was some moron pilot who got his bearings wrong and hit the building. For all I really knew, there was one fatality, and it probably could have been added to the Darwin awards. Then shit went down, and I apologized, repeatedly, individually, and very sincerely.
Astronauts put their lives on the line every time they step into one of those 30-year old rust-buckets with pringles for chips and black & white TVs for monitors. Even if the mission isn't important, every man and woman who has ever strapped him/herself into a flaming casket of death to go hopping around in space has earned my undying respect, and more so for the ones who've given their lives to further our understanding of the world around us.
This loss was even greater than challenger. It was a multicultural event, people from many backgrounds coming together to strap themselves into a flying death machine. That takes balls.
Unlike the juvenile comics above, which merely take a few stray brain cells and a desire to fuck up once more.
If I may respectfully disagree with some of what you posted ...
First what I don't disagree with: your characterization of the astronauts and your admiration for them and what they do. Everyone ought to read The Right Stuff.
That said, I will support one's right to make jokes about any subject, no matter how sensitive. The Shuttle, 9/11, the Holocaust, Celine Dion, whatever. However:
[list=1][*]Shitty, juvenile jokes are shitty and juvenile no matter what the subject matter.
[*]Whenever jokes are made about a sensitive subject, they must be delicately timed and more delicately presented, and not indiscriminately presented. However, I'd hope that on this site we have a "few-holds-barred" audience.[/list=1]
I remember distinctly that cartoon of yours you alluded to, and the flap that surrounded it. What I did not remember was that it was you who made it, and I certainly don't think less of you for having pushed the envelope then, even if you may have gone too far.
Oh, and to me Challenger was a bigger deal than Columbia. The multicultural aspect doesn't affect me much -- it was seven lives either way. But with Challenger, it was the first time, and we thought it couldn't happen; now we know such things are a plausible risk. Furthermore, with all going on right now, we may be so jaded or concerned about other things that the loss of a Shuttle may not stand out as it would have 17 years ago.