As you might have guessed, this one is about last week's Doonesbury strips, which over 50 newspapers refused to print. Personally, I'm surprised the number was that high. I may be an easy audience, but I thought the strips were witty and tastefully done. Thursday's comic was intense, but it was hardly in poor taste. Have these editors not seen reality television lately? Compared to that, last week's Doonesbury read like a Lewis Lapham essay.
Notably, this week's cartoon marks the first time I've had a strip pulled in over a dozen years of drawing Slowpoke. One of my weekly papers is owned by a daily paper that decided not to run the Doonesbury strips, so the editor, who actually liked my comic, had to ask for a substitute. The layers of irony here are impressive.
For more on the Texas law, I recommend reading about this woman's experience.
I actually wrote this before M.I.A. flipped the bird at the Super Bowl halftime show, causing everyone to bring up Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction again. Such are the happy accidents of cartooning.
The blowback against Komen has been so impressive, I keep thinking of the March For Women's Lives that I attended in DC in 2004. It was a massive and awe-inspiring demonstration (though it barely registered a blip in the media). Hard to believe that was nearly eight years ago now.
To give credit where credit is due, my colleague Ward Sutton (whose work appeared on Daily Kos Comics a few months ago) drew a cartoon after the Janet Jackson incident that involved a chestal inscription. That image, unfortunately not online, is permanently seared into my brain. So he's kinda the Original Breastwriter.
The "Protect Life Act" was back with a vengeance last week, not that you'd know it given the scant amount of attention it seemed to get. Maybe Republicans are trying to bore us with their never-ending displays of unborn baby-kissing so that we simply stop noticing when they pass bills deeming women's lives expendable.
Even though the bill would face an Obama veto, House Republicans apparently considered it a higher priority than a jobs bill. But here's the real kicker: just one week earlier, the House passed H.R. 2681, which exempts cement plants from the Clean Air Act and encourages the burning of industrial waste. Via Earthjustice:
"Does the House of Representatives think that not enough babies are being born with developmental damage due to mercury poisoning?" asked Earthjustice attorney James Pew. "The House essentially just opened up all the doors and windows in homes across the country and urged polluters to blow their toxic emissions right in.
So evidently we should sacrifice a mother to save a fetus, but pumping that fetus full of heavy metals is just dandy. Okay, then! I really wanted to work this point into the cartoon, but there's only so much inanity you can address in four panels.
Continuing with a long series of obnoxious happenings in matters repro, South Dakota has passed a law that pretty much forces women to seek "advice" from those faith-based "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" that I blogged about a few weeks ago. These centers are, as you might expect, notoriously unscientific. Poor South Dakotans. This is the second time I've had to make fun of them for this sort of thing. In all fairness, I will say the Badlands are lovely, and I spent a fine evening in Rapid City a couple years ago. South Dakota is also the home of the Corn Palace and a giant pink prairie dog (see below).
I debated whether or not to call this strip "Conservative Counseling" because I have misgivings about the term "conservative." It implies the opposite of radicalism, yet a number of self-described "conservative" pundits have policy prescriptions that are, to put it gently, nothing short of dramatic. But in the end, the alliterative "c's" had it.
[Afterthought: for a fascinating map of passport ownership that ties into the fourth panel of the cartoon, see this post by Krugman.]
As you may have heard, House Republicans are looking to solve our nation's economic problems (not) by defunding Planned Parenthood. What you may not know is that there are currently over 4,000 anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" around the country, more than five times the number of abortion providers. These largely "faith-based" operations, known for disseminating medically-dubious advice, received at least $60 million under the Bush administration. (You'll recall the many Republicans who howled about that instance of deficit spending, no? Hmm... neither do I.) So, in a sense, Unplanned Parenthood already exists, and this cartoon is merely absurdist exaggeration. I hope.
While much of the news media was rightly focused on Egypt last week, your friendly GOP-led House of Representatives was busy introducing a truly heinous bill called the "Protect Life Act." This bill would allow emergency room doctors to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform an abortion to save her life.
This isn't the pipe dream of some lone Bible-Belt crackpot from Upper Butt Scratch. The "Protect Life Act" is co-sponsored by one hundred Representatives, among them such right-wing luminaries as Paul Ryan and Ron Paul, whose libertarianism conveniently ends where ladyparts begin.
You know, we fight these battles year after year, and instead of seeing reason gradually prevail, we have a situation where the opposition only grows more radical and monstrous. It's only a matter of time before these people are really running the show, and I shudder to think about what will happen.
On a cheerier note, look for one of my cartoons in the current issue of Ms. Magazine!