Thursday, August 28, 2014

Q Toon: The Bully Pupil

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 28, 2014
It's Back To School time at Bergetoons Central!

From my vantage point as someone who remembers being bullied a couple of times in junior high school, anti-bullying policies in America's schools seem like a no-brainer. Kids have to go to school; they shouldn't have to put up with physical and mental abuse while they are there.

And yet, some people who call themselves Christians strongly disagree.
In Arizona, legislators had their anti-bullying bill teed up for passage in March [2012]. But then, Cathi Herrod, chief of a lobbying group associated with Focus on the Family, decided that the bill was really part of an effort to "force cultural acceptance and affirmation of homosexual lifestyles". Although the bill doesn't refer specifically to any one victimized group, Herrod successfully pressured lawmakers into rejecting it. Senate minority leader David Schapira, a sponsor of his Senate Bill 1462, called her a "legislative terrorist." "Cathi Herrod, an unelected lobbyist, killed a bill that would protect all Arizona kids purely because of her intolerance of gay kids," he said.
In Michigan [in 2011], the "anti-anti-bullying" lobby went on the offensive with some legislation of their own. In a bill dealing with the bullying issue, they inserted a provision that would have exempted bullies who acted out of "a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction". With an irony that seems more than usually cruel, the bill was named for a Michigan teen who had committed suicide after years of bullying.
Michigan ultimately cut the "Who Would Jesus Bully" exemption from its bill, but Christian groups continue to push other states to include it in theirs.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act in the 111th Congress only to have it die in committee They have brought the bill back for consideration in the current Congress, but it appears doomed to the same fate.

Again, it's the Christian Right who came to the defense of bullies. Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, characterized the bill as an effort by then-Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools Kevin Jennings of to turn public schools in to NAMBLA orgy houses:
"When [Jennings] founded GLSEN, his idea of a safe school was one that pushed a radical homosexual agenda by even encouraging first and second-graders to engage in homosexual activity. So I think that's the impetus behind this bill. We have an administration that wants to push a radical social agenda."
To see what Safe Schools laws may be in effect in your state, see the Family Equality map.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Air Travel in the Postwar World

A United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver was diverted to Chicago this week in order to eject a pair of passengers who got into a fight over the two inches of space that are the difference between sitting upright and "reclining."

From the Associated Press story:
"The source of the problem: a Knee Defender, the $26.30 device that clamps onto an airline tray table, preventing the passenger in front of you from reclining their seat. ... On Monday's Flight 1462, the woman seated in front took offence and the man behind refused to remove the device, even when asked to do so by cabin crew. That's when she threw a cup of water in his face."
One school of thought says (from the same story),
"When you pay to ride in a plane, you're paying to use the seat - and if that means the seat reclines, well bad luck for the person behind. Of course, we should all be reasonable and, if the passenger behind asks nicely, most folk will put their seats forward. Nobody hops on to a plane planning to be an a**hole. Except maybe him."
On the other hand, 
"Just when you’ve resigned yourself to the tiny bit of air space you’ve been allotted for a trip that will take hours, the person in front of you blithely flips back the seat and takes away another six to eight inches. Just try to get out of your seat and go to the restroom now.... Why do people push their seat back when they know it’s going to inconvenience the person behind them? Can’t we appeal to everyone’s better nature and say, for the good of all, that it would be better if we didn’t do that?"
Which brings me to A Bird's Eye View of the Postwar World," a 1945 collection of cartoons and short humor pieces about what people expected life to be like when World War II came to an end. (Consolidated Book Publishers, 153 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago.) I have a tattered copy of this paperback that originally belonged to one of my parents or grandparents. And by "paperback," I mean that even the cover is newsprint.

Here's an example of what people 70 years ago thought air travel was going to be like:
(Cartoon by Martin E. Garrity.)

So that's what's in front of the curtain screening first class passengers from the rest of us in steerage.

Monday, August 25, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

I want you to picture in your mind the Three Musketeers. Imagine them fighting some dastardly foe.

Do you have that image in your mind now? Good.

Your mind's eye didn't see them using muskets now, did it?

Shouldn't we call them the Three Swordsmen?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Q Toon: Ice Bucket List

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 21, 2014
Between the time I drew this cartoon and it had a chance to appear in print, somebody turned the idea into an internet meme featuring any female bĂȘte noire. Randy Bish went for the same idea, too. I have to assert that I like my execution of it better. I may be somewhat biased.

Daryl Cagle calls this phenomenon of one idea striking multiple cartoonists a "yahtzee," and the only reason more cartoonists haven't drawn this cartoon this week is that there happens to be so much more to be outraged about right now. If this had been your typical no-news August, there would have been more of these.

The MGM version of "The Wizard of Oz" turned 75 on Sunday, and has been a source of ideas for just about every editorial cartoonist who grew up with the movie -- drawing politicians lamenting "if I only had a brain" (or courage, or a heart) or depicting some wicked so-and-so sending out flying monkeys or drawing "Surrender (fill in the blank)" in the sky, or being exposed as Toto pulls back the Wizard's curtain. It's also the go-to reference for any cartoon having anything to do with the state of Kansas. Or not being there any more.

Dick Locher hit the bulls-eye with a February, 1979 cartoon depicting President Jimmy Carter being scolded by Dorothy for being a very bad man for not fulfilling his promises, and responding despondently, "I'm not a very bad man, I'm just a very bad Wizard!" It was such a good cartoon that Locher has drawn it again and again. Well, it's firmly his idea now, so nobody else gets to draw it.

This is at least the third time I've drawn from the Wizard of Oz inkwell. It's a cultural reference everyone can understand; and since I hardly ever get out to see new movies, I'm left to draw about old ones.

Monday, August 18, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek


Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the release of a film starring a bunch of these little buggers.

Oh, I guess there were a couple of gay icons involved in the production, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Q Toon: That's So Gay

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 14, 2014
Gay Games 9 has been underway in Cleveland and Akron all week The Games wrap up this Saturday, so I would have been better off drawing about it last week, had it been on my radar at the time. Must do something about that cheap-ass radar.

There hasn't been a great deal of news coming out of the Games -- certainly not at the very start of the Games when I was at my drawing board. Mayor Frank Jackson said that they would make a good dry run for his city hosting the 2016 GOP convention, so I considered some gag about it making a good dry run except that the GOP delegates would be more interested than the athletes in Cleveland's hookers.

But that would probably have been seen as an undeserved slam at Cleveland. Or at its hookers, several of whom are probably very fine individuals if you get to know them. Since Cleveland has been so open and welcoming -- heck, as I noted yesterday, even the Cuyahoga County Republicans put out the welcome mat -- I rejected that idea.

Instead, this week's cartoon is about the official slogan of Gay Games 9: "That's So Gay." The slogan is meant to arrest your attention, and it succeeds at that.

My cartoon barely scratches the surface of what events are in competition. Not pictured are such events as ballroom dance, rodeo, darts, billiards, rock climbing, badminton, bowling, martial arts and golf.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gay Games Archives

Gay Games 9 is underway in Cleveland - Akron, and going smoothly by what little I've heard.

Eight years ago, the Games were in Chicago, so I naturally saw and heard more about them from Chicago media. For example, the Cook County Board passed a resolution welcoming the Games to their city. It was one of those pro forma resolutions that get approved without a whole lot of scrutiny.

Then Republicans took a second look at it and ...
Eight years later, the Cuyahoga County Republicans have actually issued their very own welcoming proclamation.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Nixon Quitting!

Forty years ago today, I was at band camp at Lakeland College near Sheboygan.

I had been following the House's impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon very closely, even taping them so I could review portions later. The votes to impeach had already taken place, and the week of August 4-10 wasn't expected to be particularly eventful. After week after week of Watergate, Watergate, Watergate, the cover of Time was of Jack Nicholson.

Thursday night was the night of the camp talent show. I don't remember that I participated in the show, but I remember that I was there and had a good time. And after the show, on my way back to the dormitory, I passed by the student union, where a small crowd was watching Nixon's resignation announcement on TV.

Even given how much Watergate dominated the public square in 1973 and 1974, and even with the Supreme Court's 8-0 ruling against Nixon's claims to executive privilege, having missed the events of the previous three days, Nixon's resignation was a bolt out of the blue. When I left home, he was steadfastly refusing to give an inch to Congressional investigators and had just returned from a trip to Russia.

But the "smoking gun" tape proving that Nixon was in on the cover-up of the Watergate break-in was released on Monday, and his Republican defenders on the House Judiciary Committee and in the Senate withdrew their support. The day before he resigned, Nixon promised his cabinet that he would fight on -- but G.O.P. luminaries such as Barry Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan were letting it be known whether or not they would agree to be Gerald Ford's Vice President.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Q Toon: To Have and to Hold...

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 7, 2014
I realize that promising to "obey" is out of fashion; most couples replace "obey" with "cherish" these days. But I wanted Hector and Kevin to use the most traditional version of the marriage vows just to point out what isn't there.

This week's cartoon addresses the allegation that the reason marriage is for different-sex couples only is because they can have children and same-sex couples can't.

Aaron Lindstrom, defending Michigan's opposite-sex supremacy laws: “The state has an interest in marriage because marriage is linked to children,” and to how they’re cared for and whether they’re raised by both a mother and a father.

Judge Paul Kelly's dissent in the Colorado case: "It is biologically undeniable that opposite-gender marriage has a procreative potential that same-gender marriage lacks. [Furthermore,] the state could rationally and sincerely believe that children are best raised by two parents of opposite gender."

Virginia's Catholic Bishops response to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court decision: "Indeed, by its very nature this institution is ordered toward the regeneration and survival of the human race. For that reason Virginia's constitution rightly recognizes the unique contributions marriage -- the union of one man and one woman -- makes to children and to the common good."

Ignored by Lindstrom, Kelly and the bishops are not only the fact that marriage has long been open to couples who are infertile, aged, or having no intention to procreate; but also the fact that same-sex couples can also be parents. Some come to their partners with children due to previous relationships, and there is indeed nothing about same-sex orientation that ipso facto negates the parenting drive.

Besides, it's too late now for traditionalists to go back and change the marriage vows to read: "...to have and to hold babies."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Handle a Womon

As promised, here is a cartoon from August, 2001 about whether a wymyn-only music festival should ban transgendered wymyn.

I knew this cartoon would piss people off, especially in Michigan, insofar as it came out during the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. It was inspired by a chat room discussion in which someone else had suggested the policy which the cartoon womon outlines.

Here are two letters to the editor of Between the Lines, the Detroit-based newspaper which has been running my cartoons since 1996:
Dear BTL,
Your newspaper claims to be for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and friends and yet you found it appropriate to print a cartoon that characterizes women and lesbians in homophobic, mysoginist terms.
Would you find it equally appropriate to print a cartoon that characterized transexuals and transgenders in an equally derogatory way? Would you find it appropriate to print a cartoon that defined the trangender/transexual arguments with Michigan Women's Music Festival as the attempt of a bunch of men in skirts wanting into a women's only festival so they can slobber over the naked women?
This is exactly the amount of respect you have given to all of the people that actually support Michigan Women's Music Festival. We support the festival for very good reasons, reasons that are much more complex and thoughtful than the simple insulting characterization provided by the opinions cartoon.
--KR, 
Ann Arbor

Dear BTL,
The cartoon on the "letters opinions editorial" page of Between The Lines for the week of August 16-22 is an insult to all of your many readers that support women only spaces.
The cartoon rests its humor on lesbian-phobic images and language. It portrays all women that support Michigan Women's Music Festival as out of touch radicals that insist on ridiculous language. These are the images that the homophobic press uses to trivialize feminists and women who choose to live without men as their primary partners. I am truly disturbed to find those sentiments reflected in BTL, a paper that says it is for the Lesbian community as well as the rest of our queer community.
The discussion illustrated in the cartoon further trivializes and insults those of us that for a number of reasons oppose the goals of camptrans. The cartoon tries to portray the issue as a "don't talk don't tell" conflict rather than the more salient issue of the right of women to create and choose to be in women only spaces that are focused on women's lives.
I would like to submit this letter for the letters to the editors section but would like to withhold my name. I am fearful that the backlash from some of the community for my expressing these feelings (and I am far from alone in them) would be severe if my name was provided. --Anonymous 
Me again.

Not all response to this cartoon was negative. A Washington, D.C. transgendered person wrote me to tell me she loved the cartoon and wanted to reprint it in her newsletter.

Incidentally, I wish more people would write in and join the discussion when they see a cartoon (or someone else's letter) with which they disagree. Most of my cartoons in the gay press are preaching to the choir --espousing a pro-gay position to a pro-gay readership -- and are unlikely to provoke much of a reaction. In this case, a dispute pitted one group of my readers against another. (My one other cartoon having anything to do with the Michigan Womyn's Festival made fun of Geraldo Rivera, not the festival.)

The only thing that troubles me about the above letters is that they seem to charge that it is homophobic to argue in favor of the transendered. Now, I confess that I am not a woman; nor am I transgendered. I readily concede that there is some value to having women-only spaces. There is, however, also some value to accepting transgendered MTFs as the women they believe they intrinsically are. Don't they face enough discrimination from the straight world without having to put up with it from the queer community as well?

Monday, August 4, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Nope, it's not about the Michigyn Wymyn's Festivyl.

I've drawn more cartoons about marriage equality than about the MWF's "You're Quite Unwelcome Here" policy toward the MTF transgendered, but I have probably said all that there is to say about the latter topic. I'll see if I can dig up both the cartoon I drew in the '90's and the withering responses to it from indignant cisgendered Mychygyn wymyn for a later post.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

This Date in World War I

Chigago Tribune, August 5, 1914
Since last we checked on events of 100 years ago: August 1: Germany declared war on Russia

August 3: Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium in order to get around France's Maginot Line.

August 4: Since Britain had a treaty with Belgium, Britain was obliged to declare war on Germany