Thursday, January 29, 2015

Q Toon: Contempt of Court

In discussing last week's "Ground Hog Day" cartoon, I mentioned that state lawmakers were proposing new anti-marriage laws in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality.

The Texas legislature is considering a bill by Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Waller Co.) to garnish the salary of any government official who issues a marriage license to a same sex couple or in any way respects the rights of such a couple married out of state.

In Oklahoma, well-known homophobe Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) has vomited forth bills that states that “No employee of this state and no employee of any local governmental entity shall officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit at the expense of taxpayers of this state.”

Kern's bills are on such constitutionally shaky ground that they include a provision demanding that state courts automatically dismiss any legal challenge to them. (Why, if only Obamacare or McCain-Feingold had had such a provision!)
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jan 29, 2015
Kern's fellow representative Todd Russ (R-Cordell) tries another tack around the court with a bill prohibiting government officials from issuing any marriage licenses -- and nobody but "an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination" would be allowed to perform marriages and issue "marriage certificates." If you're agnostic or atheist couple, you're shit out of luck (but then, living in sin shouldn't bother you anyway.) You can bet that there's something in the bill's language to disallow certificates of same-sex couples even if signed by clergy.

When I initially proposed this week's cartoon idea to the editors at Q Syndicate, I had the TV host wondering whether there was something unconstitutional about the laws proposed by my fictional state lawmaker, Jim Beautron (R-Menda City). I realized that I needed to take a different tack when I read that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is pushing a constitutional amendment prohibiting American courts from overturning anti-marriage laws.

Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) likes Cruz's idea. On the flip side of the coin, presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee (R-AR) thinks states should just give American courts the finger and ignore any ruling that they don't like. I guess if you think that the Constitution is irrelevant, why bother amending it?

Of course, I know that these elected officials (R-Wherever) don't think the Constitution is irrelevant. They still believe that the Constitution explicitly prohibits whatever President Obama does from the milk he pours on his breakfast cereal to the pajamas he wears to bed. And it will be no different if Hilary Clinton is president.

But these you-can't-challenge-my-law provisions and let's-pretend-courts-don't-matter arguments are pretty clear signs that the Republicans making them know they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Because It Is There

As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, I've been posting some cartoons from A Bird's Eye View of the Postwar World from 1945.

Kay Kato's heroine in this cartoon is enjoying her leisurely ascent of El Capitan. And while she didn't have to coat her hands with superglue or mess with pick axes and crampons, she appears to be completely oblivious to the fact that the blades atop her helicopter have stopped spinning.


Monday, January 26, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek


I usually try to avoid drawing two cartoons in a row for Q Syndicate on the same topic; but if you read all the way through my commentary on last week's cartoon, you will see that I've broken with that habit this week.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What Color Is Your Parachute?

It has been a while since I posted anything from A Bird's-Eye View of the Postwar World (Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago, 1945).

The conceit of several of the cartoons was that air travel would be an everyday way for the average citizen to get around, even just across town. Here's an example by Will Johnson which fails to anticipate how this Acme salesman is supposed to get home.

Perhaps he has to wait at the airbus stop with all the other commuters, but he still has to lug that parachute with him around the neighborhood.

The cartoonists also assume, rather quaintly, that all those Rosies the Riveters would return to their housekeeping -- which, after all, was the Ozzie & Harriet model for the 1950's. The only working women in the entire book are one secretary and one hat saleslady.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Q Toon: Phil? Hey, Phil? Phil! Phil Connors?

Last year, the Supreme Court surprised everyone by declining to hear a marriage equality case. Without explanation, the court decided to ignore appeals from Republican state Attorneys General who were trying to overturn marriage equality rulings in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia.

Suddenly, marriage equality was the law of the land!

Well, no, not quite.

The court's non-ruling came about because after it had found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional (U.S. v. Windsor, 2013), all lower courts had consistently ruled in favor of marriage equality. Then, the contrarian Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the same-sex-marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jan 22, 2015

And the issue came right back to the highest court in the nation. The Supremes now have a chance to decide this issue once and for all!

Again, no, not quite.

If they rule to uphold the Sixth Circuit decision, it could throw the marriages of those of us who got married in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia into legal limbo. At the very least, marriages from any of the 36 states where they are now legal would be nullified any time we'd move to or even travel through marriage discrimination states.

And if they overturn the Sixth Circuit decision, several Republican state legislatures have proposed or passed "religious liberty" laws creating a "right" for employers, insurers, municipal clerks, hospital employees and whoever else feels like it to treat married couples as unrelated strangers.

Texas is even considering a law, House Bill 623, that says, "State or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage" -- meaning that even a gay-friendly clerk who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple is in danger of losing her job.

So sit back and wait to see how this issue eventually turns out. The Supremes have plenty of time to learn how to play the piano, carve ice, and recite French poetry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WisToon: Six Degrees of Scott Walker

The other day, Mark E. Andersen posted a blog entry on Daily Kos titled "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Claims to Have a Master's Degree." Some of my liberal friends were quickly offended by what appears at first glance to be yet another example of college drop-out Walker fabricating fictitious facts -- it's kind of like politicians who pretend to be war veterans, isn't it?

I obviously have no sympathy for Darth Snotwalker, but if you read what he actually said -- copied right there in Andersen's post -- you can easily tell that his ersatz master's degree was not so much a lie as it was as a metaphor:
"I've got a master's degree in taking on the big government special interests, and I think that is worth more than anything else that anybody can point to."
 Still and all, I think there's plenty of room left to lampoon Master Walker for this claim.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jan 21, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek


Yeah, I know.

I can't believe the Packers let that one slip through their fingers, either.

Friday, January 16, 2015

That Was Quick!

Who says that editorial cartoons aren't effective any more?

My cartoon lampooning new Russian drivers' license restrictions has barely hit the newsstands, and already the government is backing down!
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Russian officials have given transgender citizens, many of whom have felt increasingly persecuted by the state in recent years, the green light to keep on driving after a new road safety decree sparked panic that they would be banned from the road. ...
"It actually shows that LGBT people in Russia feel extremely vulnerable," Svetlana Zakharova, PR manager of the Russian LGBT Network, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"The homophobic policy of the Russian state created an environment where LGBT people do not expect anything good and believe that even a nonsense regulation or law can be adopted."
Okay, I'm not so full of myself that I actually think I had anything to do with moving the Russian government. But the topic of the effectiveness of  editorial cartoons came up on the AAEC bulletin board this week.

One cartoonist told of a college professor who had used some Charlie Hebdo cartoons to spark a discussion only to find that the students were "comic illiterate":
"I was somewhat distressed to realize, however, that they (as a group, I can't say for each one individually) had basically no awareness of cartoons / comics as something important and were largely comic-illiterate.  By that I don't mean that they don't follow the cartoonists I follow, I mean that they didn't have the ability to 'read' a cartoon apart from reading the words..."

It's hard to believe that The Kids Today just don't understand how humor works. Yet perhaps that explains why the web page editor at one of my newspapers sees no problem with using the punch line of my cartoon as the link from their front page to the page the rest of my cartoon is on. (There is a reason that Orson Welles didn't call his film A Sled Named Rosebud.)

There is a cultural aspect, to be sure: I've read posts explaining that some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons viewed as especially racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic are in fact lampooning the viewpoints they appear to endorse. But American cartoonists are also misunderstood from time to time when we criticize a point of view by portraying it taken to its logical conclusion -- as if we are agreeing with it.

Perhaps we cartoonists, if we want to remain relevant to the digitized generation, need to add "j/k" or "/sarcasm" on our cartoons.

Therefore, in case any comic illiterates out there thought my cartoon was literally accusing the Russian government of sending transgendered Russians to Nazi death camps (if they even caught the reference at all), somebody please explain to them that if that were the case, I wouldn't have bothered to bring up the issue of drivers' licenses.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Q Toon: Dress Xing

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
 ✎ Jan 15, 2015
The Russian government rang in the new year by passing new regulations that would deny driver's licenses to the transgendered, among others. The government purports to believe that some traffic accidents are the result of "gender identity disorders, disorders of sexual preference and psychological and behavioral disorders associated with sexual development and orientation.”
The resolution, which was developed by the Russian Ministry of Health, is the first of its kind to include these "personality disorders." According to the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, the new provisions will allow authorities to deny or rescind the driver's license of a citizen based on his or her diagnosis as transgender, bigender, asexual, or as a cross-dresser.
Unless one is actually changing clothes while the car is in motion, I don't quite get the connection between cross-dressing and traffic safety; do you?

Monday, January 12, 2015

This Week's Украдкой Заглядывать

The other day I supposed that Charb had drawn his "Toujours Pas d'Attentats en France" cartoon prior to three December attacks in his country. Apparently that was not the case, so I have no idea what he was thinking.

In solidarity with my slain cartoonist brethren at Charlie Hebdo, everyone I criticize in my cartoons will henceforth be drawn naked, in flagrante delicto with an ape or committing unspeakable acts with religious symbols.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Q Toon: Running on Empty

My cartoons, although posted on Thursdays, are drawn on Sunday, so mine is one of only two or three cartoons on the AAEC site today that are not about the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo.
The word cloud on the AAEC site this morning
So, soldiering bravely on:
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jan 8, 2015

I've already explained in This Week's Sneak Peek the difficulty in determining what to draw about when all the newspapers, web sites and blogs I scour for inspiration are reminiscing about the year that is Old News. This time, I leaped right over the New Year and into the next one.

But with an awful lot of Old Baggage.

Quoi encore peut-on dire?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

We Are Charlie Hebdo

"100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!"
Terrorists killed at least 12 people, including policemen and cartoonists, at the offices of French satirical magazine newspaper Charlie Hebdo (loosely translated as "Charlie Weekly") this morning.

The cartoonists assassinated were Jean "Cabu" Cabut, Georges Wolinski, Bernad "Tignous" Verlhac, and editor Stéphane Charbonnier, who signed his cartoons "Charb."

In 2006, Charlie Hebdo had reprinted the caricatures of Mohammed that had appeared in the Dutch magazine Jyllands-Posten and added a few of their own. The cover at right was from a 2011 issue whose conceit was that Muslims had taken over the magazine that week. Islamic terrorists responded by fire bombing the offices. Charlie Hebdo responded in turn with a cover showing a stereotypical Moslem and one of their own cartoonists deep in a wet, sloppy kiss.

Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity offender, running scandalous cartoons about not only politicians and celebrities, but also the Catholic church, Jews, and Muslims which would never get past an editor in the United States. One cover showed a Nazi SS guard and an Orthodox Jew deep in yet another wet, sloppy kiss. Other cartoons have depicted the Pope having sex, with and without condoms, and various other lewd and scatological acts. Another depicted the Holy Trinity as a three-way. Charlie Hebdo is not so much Punch as it is Hustler with fewer photographs.

"Still no attack in France."
"Wait! We can send best wishes till
the end of January."
The magazine newspaper has been under guard by police due to the continued threats against it, but has refused to back down. Charb recently drew a poke in the eye of  the terrorists with the cartoon at right. (This must have been drawn before a series of attacks in December in Joue-les-Tours, Dijon and Nantes.)

Centuries ago, Christianity was mired in its Dark Ages while Islam was alive with intellectual activity, science and art -- and, yes, satire. After attacks from rural, anti-intellectual barbarians from East (and from the ascending West), Islam sunk into its own Dark Ages, which these terrorists hope to spread around the world.

Nous sommes tous Charlie Hebdo.

We are all Charlie Hebdo.

Update: The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists has issued its condemnation of the attack: "Cartoonists and journalists around the world should be permitted to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. These types of attacks only serve to illustrate how important the free spirit of cartoon commentary is, and how cartoonists make a difference in helping to expose hypocrisy."

Monday, January 5, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

The first cartoon drawn after New Year's is usually very challenging.

Most of the LGBT news sources I rely upon for inspiration have spent the last week or so running stories rehashing the year gone by -- topics my editors could hardly care less about for their back-to-work January edition.

This year, there was the suicide of a transgender teen that has been talked about around the blogosphere, but I hesitate to draw a cartoon that might be mistaken as making light of the situation, or, God forbid, inspiring more kids to give up and kill themselves.

So that's not what this week's cartoon is about.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Problem Like Maria, part VIII

Late in the third quarter of the Rose Bowl, Maria was called for tripping and grabbing the facemask of Jamies Winston, forcing a fumble that didn't make a whole lot of difference in the outcome of the game if you really must be honest about it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Q Toon: Symbolic Gesture

Four months ago, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state of Florida to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This ruling seems clear enough, but not for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi, in her quest to become the 21st Century Anita Bryant, has been fighting Judge Hinkle's order, currently stayed until this coming Monday.

Bondi's argument, incredibly, is that Judge Hinkle's ruling applies only to the one couple who actually brought the lawsuit.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jan 1, 2015
By the way, here's something for you typographers out there. Did you know that there is no agreed upon name in English for the "@" symbol? It's usually just called the "at sign," although other suggested names are the portmanteau "atpersand," the German "strudel," and the French "arobase."

The French term apparently derives from a Castillian unit of liquid weight, back when Iberia was Muslim, called the "arroba," which was abbreviated to the @ symbol in commercial usage. I don't know how the term "strudel" got applied to the symbol; I would think that "cinnamon roll" would be more visually appropriate.

@ any rate, I have a client publication with the nasty habit of using the punch line of my cartoons as the on-line headline for the cartoon, and I'm waiting to see how they manage to do that this week.