Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Week's Cartoon: A Hero in Tucson

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jan 20, 2011
Following the accolades given 20-year-old gay Hispanic Daniel Hernandez, the intern who held Congressman Gabrielle Giffords and kept pressure on her wounds until the ambulances arrived, National Public Radio reminded us of another gay man who stepped in to foil an assassination attempt.

On September 22, 1975, Oliver "Billy" Sipple, a marine veteran of the Vietnam War, saw Sara Jane Moore raising a gun to shoot President Gerald Ford as he left the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Sipple lunged at Moore as she pulled the trigger, deflecting her aim and saving the President. (Another man was hit by the bullet, but survived.)

Harvey Milk thought that America deserved to know that the president had been saved by a gay man, so he contacted the San Francisco Chronicle; legendary columnist Herb Caen subsequently reported that angle of the story.

Sipple had not been out to his family, and his mother refused to speak to him afterward. He had other personal demons, so not all of the trouble that ensued was entirely because of this one incident, but it is fair to say that it played a significant role in ruining his life. He was found dead in his bed in February, 1989, at age 47.

Sipple's story, one hopes, shows how much progress has been made in this country since 1975. It is encouraging that this time, the person who is a hero whether he accepts it or not, is an out gay man (he is a member of Tucson’s city commission on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues) whose parents are justifiably proud of him. One hopes the best for him -- one even expects the best for him (did you see how eloquently he spoke before a packed auditorium, in front of the President of the United States and many other dignitaries, without notes?).

So here's this week's cartoon. Editorial cartoons aren't the ideal medium for expressing approval, but every so often, someone really deserves the praise.

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