Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Mutually Pledge to Each Other...



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jun 30, 2010

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in the case Doe v Reed to keep public the signers of a Washington state petition to put Resolution 71 on the state ballot in 2008:
By a broad eight-to-one majority in an opinion by the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court today held in Doe v. Reed that signatories of referendum petitions generally do not have a constitutional right – i.e., a right that would trump state open government laws – to keep their identities private. But the Court held – again, by the same broad majority – that courts should consider in any given case whether a particular referendum presents sufficiently unique circumstances that anonymity is required. It therefore permitted the claim to anonymity in this case, which involves a referendum on gay rights, to proceed in the lower courts. But their chances of prevailing appear very slim, as five members of the Court either expressed significant doubts about their claim or expressly rejected it.

It's a complicated ruling, with extra opinions from various members of the majority; but only Clarence Thomas bought the argument that people who sign a petition to take away rights from their gay and lesbian neighbors ought to have a right to have their signatures kept private, especially from those gay and lesbian neighbors.

Simply put, we have a right to a secret ballot in this country, but not a right to secret government. Our governmental representatives do not have the right to make laws in secret (the Senatorial Secret Hold aside), and neither do citizens.

If a citizens' group wants to circulate a petition to outlaw mosques in your town, to deny gay and lesbian couples marital rights in your state, or any other action to discriminate against a minority in this country, that group cannot expect the protection of anonymity.

For that, there are plenty of Comment buttons other people's internet sites.

Monday, June 28, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek


On the off chance that there are any editors out there who would appreciate it, there's an Independence Day motif in this week's cartoon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

John Doe for Senate

Ron Johnson (R-Out of Nowhere), candidate for the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin, is introducing himself to voters with a TV ad that promises that he won't bother us with warm fuzzy TV ads about liking jobs and kittens and apple pie.

Republicans must be counting on voters to like the bland name. Doesn't everybody in Wisconsin know a Ron Johnson?

But for a cartoonist, it's a little frustrating that if I image-Google Ron Johnson, I find hardly any pictures of the guy I'm looking for. Page after page of ¡Los Links!, I find several more pictures of George Will than of the guy running against Russ Feingold.

In case you're wondering, none of the pictures from the above screensave of Page 1 of images.google.com for "Ron Johnson" are Wisconsin's Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. (And when I searched with Bing, the candidate turned up as the 35th and 40th picture.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tea for Two



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jun 23, 2010

If I hadn't drawn this cartoon particularly for LGBT publications, I might well have added a few other fellow travelers in Mr. Teabagger's wake: the governmental shills for corporations, anti-environmentalists, anti-women's reproductive rights activists, anti-Latino xenophobes, and the rest of the lot.

But for the purposes of this cartoon, I'm concerned that should Republicans (and let's face it, the Tea Party is the activist wing of the Republican Party for this election cycle) take over state and federal government, what few gains the LGBT community has made in the past few years are seriously at risk. Republican Gubernatorial candidates in my home state have pledged to turn the document registering my domestic partnership into an expensive sheet of toilet paper. There will no doubt be a return to the days of federal laws forbidding state and local governments from recognizing LGBT rights. Not only will "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" stay on the books, Republicans will tack a provision barring gay and lesbians from military service onto their constitutional amendment denying us any right to marry, adopt, speak in church, publicly assemble or use public rest rooms.

There are not enough libertarians in the Republican party to offset conservatives' tendency to believe in Small Government only insofar as it deals with Big Business. When it comes to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of you and me, Republicans are perfectly happy to enlarge governmental intrusion.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek


That's right, boys and girls, it's another unflattering picture of a Teabagger.

Teabaggers have responded to these cartoons by saying that they're not all angry white guys dolled up in colonial drag, to which my response is: suck it up and get used to it. TV cameras and cartoonists are attracted to the outlandish and extreme elements of any group, which is why images of Gay Pride focus more on drag queens and leather fetishists than on casually dressed revelers -- and there's no point in complaining about it.

It's why Sarah Palin is more emblematic of the Tea Party than Dick Armey, in spite of his new dye job.

And its why Mr. Grouchy Imitation Patriot gets to be the image of your grouchy imitation patriotic movement.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It Didn't Happen At Pridefest



We might have had a little rain on our LGBT Pride festival, but at least there was none of this this year.

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek


We went to Milwaukee Pridefest this weekend. We only ran into a couple people whom I knew, and none of the people Chris knows that we usually meet at these things.

The weather was decidedly cool, which didn't stop a few boys from showing up in nothing more than designer underpants.

We enjoyed an alt-folk band called Heat Birds on one of the side stages. We saw Patti LaBelle's show from a distance; during his introduction of her, Bruce Valanch walked over to the ASL interpreter and announced a test: "Gitchee gitchee yah yah yah."

I have no idea whether the ASL interpreter got it right. My fluency in ASL is limited to a few terms I picked up many years ago when WMAQ in Chicago had a newscaster for the local news breaks in the Today show who used to sign and read the news. Thus I still remember how to sign "partly cloudy" and "Chicago police."

Friday, June 11, 2010

LGBT Print Media

Press Pass Q reports this month on the demise of one LGBT paper, The Chicago Free Press (at the end of April) and the launching of another, The Wisconsin Gazette (last November).

It's sad to see the Free Press go; they ran my cartoons from Volume 1 Issue 1 in August, 1999, until sometime in 2009, and featured some excellent news coverage and commentary. I can't do better than columnist Jennifer Vanasco, who wrote:
“And because the Chicago Free Press was a very good paper, a lot of people read it. Not just gay people, but straight as well – and not just folks who had a reason to be interested in gay issues, but anyone who had an interest in [Chicago’s] North Side neighborhoods. When I still lived in Chicago – I moved from there in 2006 – people would stop me on the street to talk about that week’s column, or to ask me about something that had been in the paper. It felt personal – more personal that it feels to run a website, or write the occasional web-hosted blog post.”

Gazette Publisher Louis Weisberg used to work for the Free Press (his departure is not entirely unrelated to its eventual demise), which fills a void left by In Step (1984-2003), Wisconsin Light (1987-2002), and Queer Life News (2004-2008). (I'm not ignoring Quest, which started as a "bar rag" but has done its best to report news in the absence of an LGBT "news" paper.) I was happy to find the Gazette available in an art store in my hometown; the previous newspapers had only been available in the city's sole LGBT bar and a porn shop that went out of business last year, or by driving to Milwaukee.

The internet is a wonderful thing, but I like having a newspaper with my coffee. If I spill on it, I'm not out several hundred bucks.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who Needs Gaydar Any More?



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jun 9, 2010

Leaving aside the serious topics of gays in the military, marriage equality, and non-discrimination in the workplace, this week's cartoon turns to the latest technological fad in the gay community.

Grindr uses the GPS function of your wireless handheld communications unit to track where you are; you can use it to check out anyone else with Grindr who happens to be nearby, and perhaps message whoever strikes your fancy. The other guys with Grindr on their phones are sorted for you according to their distance from you, so you can send messages to the cute guy who is across the room, across the street, or across town; and Grindr will display any messages from horny gay guys you passed since the last time you checked in. For an extra fee, Grindr will alert you to each incoming message as it arrives.

So I hear tell. I'm well spoken for, so I have no need to hunt for gay hookups on my phone. Heck, I have so far resisted the urge to have a phone with me at all times, which practically makes me a Luddite.

Here's how their web site advertises the service:
"Meet Guys Near You With Grindr
"Meet guys at home or on the road for free with Grindr for iPhone or iPod touch. Start chatting with local guys in seconds!
"The go-to place for gay, bi, and curious guys to meet, the location-based Grindr is free, fast, and fun. It uses GPS technology in your iPhone or BlackBerry and Wi-Fi in your iPod touch or iPad to determine your exact location and instantly connect you with guys in your area. Simply launch Grindr to see local guys (the closest appear first) and view pictures, stats, and map locations at a tap. It’s that easy. So come on, see who’s available on Grindr."

So it's a hook-up site -- the hottest thing since Chat Roulette (which is SO last February!). You might be able to locate a gay lawyer or plumber, but it's probably not the easiest way to find someone to draw up your power of attorney or fix your kitchen sink. If you're expecting to find a new free porn site, though, you'll be disappointed. Grindr rules require users to keep their profile pictures PG-13.

Two reporters for the Washington Examiner thought it would be newsworthy to find out how many Grindr customers they would find in the halls of the Senate and House, in the White House press room, and in the parking lot of the Pentagon. I'm not sure what they meant to prove, since there are usually plenty of tourists as well as government employees and lobbyists in and around government buildings -- and the reporters didn't record themselves trying to initiate any chat sessions. At the Pentagon, they may have been trying to suggest a quick way to purge the military of gay personnel while Don't Ask, Don't Tell is still in effect.

So you active service personnel might just want to ignore the incoming chat message from this fellow:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sneak Peek for the Week


It's Cliché Tribute Week here at Bergetoons. The first cartoon featuring a desert island with a single palm tree was drawn by Honoré Daumier in 1837, satirizing French society through the person of a shipwrecked homme bourgeois who is elated when a bottle of fine champagne washes up on the island, but then waits day after day for a champagne flute to wash up as well.

The cartoon premise was so popular, that soon every cartoonist from Moscow to St. Louis was churning out desert island cartoons. No matter who was on the desert island, or what predicament that character was facing, the one constant in each cartoon, as homage to the French master, was the lone palm tree. Once, New Yorker cartoonist Carl Rose added a second palm tree in a cartoon involving a hammock. He was forced to publicly apologize to the American Cartoonist Guild to avoid being drummed out of the ACG for violating the Prime Directive of Desert Island Cartoons.

Not many people know this, but the 1960's TV show "Gilligan's Island" was based on a series of desert island cartoons by Virgil Partch. Partch disowned the project after television executives insisted upon adding a sexy movie star and a jungle full of palm trees, however.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tea Partiers Take Up Another Cause


The Washington Post reports that the National Spelling Bee is being protested by advocates of phonetic spelling.

Or shouldn't that be fonetik speling?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jun 2, 2010

Responding to pressure from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Malawi's president Bingu wa Mutharika issued a pardon to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga. The two had been sentenced to 14 years hard labor for having made public their devotion to each other as a gay couple.

Mutharika had spoken out against the pair during their trial, and his statement makes clear that if he had his druthers, there would have been no pardon at all:
"These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws. However, as the head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions. I have done this on humanitarian grounds, but this does not mean that I support this. ... We don't condone marriages of this nature. It's unheard of in Malawi and it's illegal."

The two were released to their separate villages, and late reports are that Chimbalanga has gone missing. One hopes that there is nothing serious to those reports, but since it is also reported that Chimbalanga is transgendered, there is cause for concern.

Certainly, it is hard to believe that either man is safe in his home country -- either from the government (The Minister of Gender, Women and Children has warned that the gay couple could be rearrested if they continue with their relationship) or from a mob taking matters into their own hands. The level of homophobia in much of Africa is the stuff of Tony Perkins' wet dreams.