Thursday, February 5, 2015

Q Toon: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

I'm not a fan of exceptionally wordy cartoons, but when one is taking a fairly obscure Congressman to task for a comment to an equally obscure administration official, it's quite likely that the story didn't get a lot of attention on the nightly news or comedy shows, and a good deal of explanation is in order.

So here's the cartoon:
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Feb 5, 2015
Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) is chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee, where he questioned the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, Robert Jackson, last week. Smith brushed off anyone's concerns about LGBT rights on the world's second largest continent:
"There are fundamental differences in the United States over the whole LGBT issue. I am a strong believer in traditional marriage, and do not construe 'homosexual rights' as 'human rights.'"
On the same day, Nigerian sharia police arrested twelve men on charges of celebrating a "gay wedding." Two weeks earlier, an Egyptian court had acquitted 26 men arrested at a public bathhouse only after their televised arrests had been splashed all over news and social media. Up and down the continent, governments, abetted by sensationalist news media, are whipping up hatred against lesbians and gays as a way to distract their citizens from poverty, tribal and religious rivalries, and their own kleptocracies.

Various LGBT advocacy groups have criticized Smith for his dismissive attitude toward the persecution of gays and lesbians from Algeria to Zimbabwe. Fellow subcommittee member David Cicilline (D-RI and openly gay) also responded to Smith:
"I would like to address these comments and clarify that the official position of the U.S. government is: all people have basic human rights. Regardless of their race, sex, disability, age, political opinion, or religion, they are entitled to the very fundamental right to be themselves, free from persecution. This includes people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender."

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