Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By Their Fruit Shall Ye Know Them

I first saw Jerry Holbert's Boston Herald cartoon about intruders in the White House on the site, so I didn't see anything wrong with it. The cartoon shows President Obama brushing his teeth in the White House living quarters bathroom, surprised by a stranger bathing in the tub behind him who says, "Have you tried the new raspberry flavored toothpaste?"

Only that's not how it appeared in the Boston Herald. In their original version, the toothpaste flavor was watermelon, which a lot of people thought echoed the racist image of Little Black Sambos grinning from ear to ear enjoyin' demsefs a big ol' watermelon.
“I feel awful about the perception that it was racist, but it was nothing of the sort,” Holbert tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I wanted another flavor of toothpaste for the cartoon, and we had a bottle of Colgate kids’ toothpaste that was watermelon-flavored … watermelon seems to be a big flavor these days, so…I went with it.”
Apparently, the editors at Holbert's syndicate thought it was something of the sort, enough to have him change the toothpaste flavor; anything of the sort certainly slipped by his editors at the Boston Herald.

There has been a lot of things of the sort going on lately. Some feminists were upset by a Jeopardy category this week called "What Women Want" (for example, "Some help around the house; would it kill you to get out the Bissell bagless canister one of these every once in a while?" "What is a vacuum cleaner?") Christianists have complained about people mocking Tim Tebow's praying on the football field, but no team he played on was ever penalized 15 yards for it as the Kansas City Chiefs' Husain Abdullah was Monday night.

Do racism, sexism, or religious bigotry have to be intentional? In effect, no. The name of the Washington Redskins and the tomahawk chop of the Atlanta Braves (and surely of the Chiefs) offend Native Americans whether or not someone sat down and decided, "You know what? I think we should all get together and offend some Indians."

It isn't Political Correctness to try to avoid giving offense to people, intentionally or unintentionally. Yes, there may be some hypersensitive people out there, and I myself certainly can't promise that I'll never offend some group of people. Heck, I'd say that I offend people for a living except that I don't quite make a living from it.

But we take this episode as another warning to be mindful of stereotypes and cultural insensitivity.

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Having spent so much time at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning this weekend, I just tore a page out of a children's book for this week's cartoon.

And won't those children be ticked off when they find out!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

At the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning

I spent yesterday at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning, sitting behind Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis and getting to be the 40,000th person to tell him how excellent his very personal cartoon this week about domestic abuse was.

I was curious to know how long his internal editor might have held up his cartoon idea between "Should I draw this?" and "I have to draw this," His answer: "55 years."

His presentation to the room at large included discussion of complaints he has gotten over the years. One example concerned the cartoon shown above, an apology for having supported Iraq War II ten years earlier. Somebody had responded by agreeing with his eventual opposition to the war but complaining, "Where were you ten years ago?"

To which his response was, "Did you not read the beginning of the cartoon?"

Thursday, September 25, 2014


This week's cartoon probably comes too late for my monthlies and too early for my weeklies. With Adrian Peterson smiling back at me from my breakfast box of Wheaties, where else could I go this week?
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 25, 2014
By my count, this is the fifth cartoon I've drawn this year about the NFL -- which is a lot, if you consider that I draw one cartoon for Q Syndicate per week. I'm already at one out of ten for the year.

I suppose something had to replace "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Honey? We haven't been violating the league's copyright by re-purposing the accounts or descriptions of their games for something other than our private use, have we?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Q Toon: The Secretive Nym

Turning our attention now to what has been classified as a First World Problem:
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 18, 2014
Facebook has lately gone on a tear against drag performers whose Facebook pages are under their performance names rather than the names on their drivers' licenses -- closing down the performers' Facebook pages and requiring them to change the name on their accounts. This is because of Facebook's "real names" policy, which is supposed to protect against accounts set up to impersonate another user, for example. As a company spokesman put it, the policy is intended to “prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment.”

Cross-gender personalities from San Francisco to Seattle have been up in arms over abruptly losing their pseudonymous accounts.

The NymWar does sound like a strictly First World Problem if you only consider this:
The problem here is that Facebook is strong arming many performers to switch their pages over to Fan Pages/Like Pages, which, for all intents and purposes, are the most useless thing on Facebook. Unless you have thousands of dollars to shell out for ads to get your page boosted for views, Like Page posts get lost among a sea of InstaGrams and viral trends.
On the other hand, these performers can face real-life stalking and harassment, or loss of employment. The Personnel Department at Beige Cubicle Inc. is very likely to think twice about hiring Harry Jones after they look up Harry Jones's Facebook page and see dozens of photos of Harry Jones on stage at Folsom Street dressed as Sister Ivanna Smooch. Gay bashing, moreover, is still a very real thing, and anyone who transgresses gender boundaries makes an easy target.

Given that the "real names" policy has been around for years, why has Facebook suddenly gone after so many drag performers?
A source at Facebook explained that, in general, profile pages are only reviewed when “a member of the Facebook community reports it to us,” adding that, “In these instances, the profiles would have been reported to us.” Given the high number of queens being “hit hard,” as Miz Cracker put it, someone has clearly made a serious project of reporting drag profiles to (or perhaps from within) the company.
A coalition met with Facebook executives this week, but were rebuffed.
A company spokesman said that Facebook would temporarily reactivate the profiles of several hundred members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community whose profiles have been deactivated: "This will give them a chance to decide how they’d like to represent themselves on Facebook. Over the next two weeks, we hope that they will decide to confirm their real name, change their name to their real name, or convert their profile to a Page."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Because Sexual Harassment Is Funny

In the second installment of cartoons from 1945's A Bird's Eye View of the Postwar World, we have a look at the workplace environment according to cartoonist Eric Ericson:
One hardly knows where to begin.