Monday, August 31, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

In lieu of the usual snippet from the cartoon coming later this week, here's one I drew for the Twin Cities LGBT newsmagazine Gaze in July, 1993, the year of great flooding along the upper Mississippi River and several tributaries in the midwest.

I was en route to a church secretaries' conference in St. Peter, Minnesota that summer, traveling by bus. I stopped to visit friends in Minneapolis before boarding the bus down to St. Peter. The bus ended up having to make a number of detours because high water in the Minnesota River had overtopped some bridges and roadways and was threatening others. I ended up arriving at Gustavus Adolphus College quite late, missing the opportunity to be interviewed by a Minneapolis Tribune reporter who wanted to talk to the three of us male secretaries at the overwhelmingly female conference.

Since both of the pastors at the church where I work happened at the time to be women, I suppose I could been an interesting addition to the article. (In fact, both pastors are still women, although one now works at the synod level, not at the church.)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Month in World War I

It has been a while since I've posted anything about what was going on one century ago. I don't have any good newspaper front pages to highlight, but I came across this German cartoon the other day and decided to let it be the impetus for this week's Slogback Saturday.

I'm not positive what historical significance 1915 has in terms of this cartoon, other than that it was probably when it happened to be drawn. The Entente Cordiale between France and England was signed in 1904 as France sought to cozy up to an ancient rival, England, because it was more worried about Germany. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 had ended with Prussian troops marching victoriously through Paris and the various German states uniting into a single nation.

For its part, English leaders had begun to regret a long-standing policy of not getting entangled in continental affairs. The United Kingdom had no allies in the Boer Wars, and continuing expansion of European colonization of Asia, Africa and the Pacific was antithetical to isolationist policy. So the Entente Cordiale settled colonial boundaries between England and France in the Near and Far East (England taking the Egyptian Gulf of Suez), and an Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907 carved up present-day Iran and Afghanistan.

Contrast the German view of Great Britain above with how the Germans depicted their own actions in this propaganda poster:
Dear Homeland, have no fear!
Here, a jolly German soldier is having no difficulty managing against the Triple Entente of Russia, France, and, underfoot, England. Why, Germany doesn't even require the assistance of its own allies.

Of course, the spider motif could be played both ways. This cartoon of Kaiser Wilhelm by the Dutch cartoonist Louis Raemaekers, is also from 1915:

Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy had formed the "Triple Alliance" back in 1882, but Italy broke off from the alliance at the start of World War I, declaring neutrality. In April of 1915, England, France, Russia and Italy signed a secret pact, the Treaty of London, turning Italy against its erstwhile allies. Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on May 23 and on the Ottoman Empire on August 21.

Italy didn't declare war on Germany until 1916, but here's a telling Italian cartoon of Kaiser Wilhelm from 1915:

Italy was replaced in the Triple Alliance by the Ottoman Empire, prompting this Italian cartoon:

The Ottoman entry into the war is rather baffling; the previous century had been marked by the empire suffering defeats at the hands of Russia on the one hand and Austria-Hungary on the other (and, for that matter, Italy as recently as 1912). But Germany promised certain Greek and Balkan territories to the Ottomans for their closing the passage through Constantinople to the British and Russian navies.

England made its last attempt to seize the Ottoman Gallipoli peninsula from August 6 to 21, part of England's "August offensive." The Battle of Hill 60 on August 26-29 was the final battle of that campaign, ending in a stalemate. So let us close this chapter with one more Raemaekers cartoon:
GALLIPOLI
Turkish General: "What are you firing at? The British evacuated the place twenty-four hours ago!"
"Sorry, sir -- but what a glorious victory!"

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Q Toon: Hello Muddah, Hello FADA

If you thought a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court would be the final word in the fight for marriage equality, I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

The resistance is not limited to one Kentucky county clerk on her fourth marriage, of course. Christian theocrats are not going to be dragged into the 21st Century without a fight.

This month, the Republican National Committee voted to support what its sponsors call a "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA), guaranteeing a right to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, the transgendered, and whatever other group about whom you can find a disapproving verse in the Bible. So look out, Amorites, shellfish-eaters and rich fools: they're coming for you again.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✎Aug 27, 2015
Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the legislation would prohibit a federal government entity from taking action against a person who objects to same-sex marriage or homosexuality. Such actions include denying tax credits, contracts, grants, certification, accreditation or employment to a person who opposes homosexuality due to strong religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) would also allow anybody who felt they were retaliated against by government actors to sue for damages. It also outlines how the sponsors expect courts to interpret the act, including a clause that reads, “This Act shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this Act and the Constitution.” ...
 The Human Rights Campaign noted that “if passed, this legislation would create a breakdown of government services and runaway litigation…. It would permit a federal employee, for example, to refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appears on his or her desk.”
Oh, by the way, just kidding about the Christian right coming after you rich fools. Everyone knows that Jesus didn't mean.any of that stuff.

Monday, August 24, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

As a symbol of the Republican party, the elephant dates back to 1864, the party's third presidential election. A pro-Lincoln newspaper in Pennsylvania (published 1864-1873), Father Abraham, published a picture of an elephant carrying a banner reading "The Elephant Is Coming" amid text about how the Lincoln was headed to victory in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Maryland.

Thomas Nast's series of cartoons featuring a Republican elephant came ten years later, starting with "Third Term Panic," depicting a braying donkey (representing the Democratic-leaning New York Herald) in a lion's skin inciting panic among other animals. Prominent among them is an elephant on a precarious footbridge (with planks labeled "deflation," "reform," "repudiation" and "Reconstruction") over a chasm of "Southern claims chaos."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Oliphant on Carter

Having already shared my ballpoint pen tracing of Pat Oliphant caricatures of Presidents Nixon and Ford, I guess the news that former President Jimmy Carter has cancer means that this week's Sweaterback Saturday ought to feature Oliphant's vision of the 39th President of the United States.

In this case, it's a daunting proposition: I have three pages of these Jimmy Carters. I was in college for much of Carter's presidency, able to hop on over to the library and trace every Oliphant cartoon in the periodicals rack, and to rummage through the hometown newspapers thrown out by others in the dorm. I don't want to overwhelm you, dear reader, with every last one of these Jimmies, so here's a select representation.

Unlike with Nixon, Carter was virtually unknown outside of his home state prior to his candidacy for the presidency, so I know of no Oliphant cartoons about Carter's governorship (1971-1975). As did most cartoonists in 1976, Oliphant fixated on Candidate Carter's omnipresent grin as the basis for caricature.

After Carter was inaugurated and had to deal with a Congress and other world leaders who played much harder to get than the American electorate had, there was less reason for Carter, the man or the cartoon, to smile. Oliphant saw in Carter's foreign policy emphasis on Human Rights and his domestic policy of urging Americans to lower their thermostats a humorless puritan.

Over time, given the 1979 "Malaise speech" and the 444-day-long Iranian hostage crisis, Oliphant's Carter shrunk in stature, perpetually at the mercy of events. Cartoon Carter even lost quite a bit of his hair, aging faster than the real man. Perhaps Oliphant had the portrait of Dorian Gray somewhere in mind.

Oliphant has continued over the years to give Carter no break, drawing him as a dour, Bible-toting wet blanket in this 1995 sketch, or as a grumpy, pug-nosed dwarf in his 2004 "Legacies" cartoon. (At least Cartoon Carter's hair has grown back.) At any rate, Oliphant has only posted two cartoons at all in the past year, so he may not rush to his drawing board to make nice just because of a little brain cancer.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rall Entando al Fine

Ted Rall continues his series on How I Got Fired And Nobody Cared at rall.com this week, coming around to the failure of his fellow cartoonists to leap to his defense.

"You guys suck" was Rall's header for an August 9 screed on the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) listserv blasting the AAEC's silence on his case -- described as deafening in another cartoonist's posting, the first on the topic, on July 28. (Postings on the listserv are supposed to be confidential, but since Rall has brought the discussion out into the open, I think the cat is out of the bag.)

Between July 28 and the publication of the AAEC statement on August 11, there was a lot of back and forth on the listserv over whether Rall had proven that his case was any worse than that any of the scores of other editorial cartoonists who have lost their jobs in the last 20-30 years, none of which have produced official statements from the AAEC. Of course, hardly any of those cartoonists were sent out the door with an editorial calling them liars.

So far this year, the AAEC has condemned the killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors, condemned the arrest of Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, condemned the shootings at the "Draw Mohammed" confab in Dallas, called for Maine's Governor LePage to apologize for telling a cartoonist's son that the governor would like to shoot the boy's father, and, of course, called for an investigation into the tape the Los Angeles Police Department gave to the L.A. Times editors to get Rall fired.

On the other side of the coin, I can't recall any instance of the AAEC officially criticizing any cartoonist by name -- although accusations of plagiarism have resulted in heated discussion on the listserv, a few well-known cartoonists leaving the association, and eventually, a code of ethics (see the update at the end of this story). There was plenty of internal discussion whether or not the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and the Texas anti-Islam cartoon contest were defensible, but in the end, the Free Speech absolutists won out.

We cartoonists are used to having our work criticized; we love praise, of course, but see criticism as a sign that our cartoons have succeeded in sparking conversation. Bill Sanders, for example, devoted three pages of The Sanders Book (1977) to hate mail. Today's editors, on the other hand, see editorial cartoons as little more than a graphic to break up an otherwise gray page. The occasional threat from a reader to cancel a subscription may not get a cartoonist fired, but complaints from advertisers, law enforcement, or the publisher's golfing buddies are likely to prompt an editor to discover reasons to "tighten the budget."

At issue here is not just whether the L.A. Times unjustly besmirched a cartoonist's reputation by calling him a liar, but also whether it should have leapt to conclusions based upon accusations by the LAPD supported only by a poor-quality recording.

I don't know who is qualified to step in at this late date, but a recent cartoon by Matt Wuerker was parsed by Politifact (and found "mostly true"), so perhaps we should let the Tampa Bay Times judge whether Rall's or the LAPD's pants are on fire.

Postscript:  (The Times defends its actions here, including a link to a recording from the LAPD purporting to document LAPD's failed attempts to contact Rall after his initial complaint about his treatment.
(But according to one of Rall's colleagues, J.P. Trostle, "As someone who has known Mr. Rall for almost 20 years, and was calling him frequently during this time period (as we finished collaborating on the book Attitude: The New Subversive Alternative Political Cartoonists), I can assure you that that is NOT Ted Rall’s voice on the answering machine, nor was it the greeting message he was using at time — which means the LAPD was calling the wrong number.")

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Q Toon: Sermon at the Counter II

In spite of feeling that I put out the definitive cartoon on the topic just over a month ago, I've drawn about local county and municipal clerks who still defiantly refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Supreme Court of the United States notwithstanding.

Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is putting up a legal fight claiming that other people's right to a marriage license is a violation of her First Amendment religious liberty rights to refuse to do her job. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning stayed his earlier ruling that had required Davis to set her religious views aside and stop discriminating against same-sex couples.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Aug 20, 2015

Kentucky is not alone in facing unresolved issues related to marriage equality since Obergefell v. Hodges. Lawsuits have now been filed in Colorado, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina claiming that public officials' religious beliefs supersede their responsibilities to their constituents.

Now, in case there are any sticklers out there who question the religious sincerity of the unnamed clerk in this week's cartoon, please note that in every panel of the cartoon, her head is covered by a dialogue balloon.

Monday, August 17, 2015

This Week's Tease

Yes, I did notice the story about a minor-league baseball player coming out as gay over the weekend. He plays, after all, for one of the farm clubs of our local Brewers, so the Milwaukee media have been on the story, after a fashion. (Since Mr. Denson plays for the team in Helena, Montana, where none of the Milwaukee media have reporters, much of the coverage has been of the variety where a reporter solicits reactions from passers-by.) And I read about Britain's first openly gay rugby star, as well.

But with the early, disappointing end to Michael Sam's career this week, it hardly seems like a good time for a Hooray For Gays In Sports cartoon. So it's back to that tired old topic of resistance to marriage equality.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Postwar World: War's End


This week marked the 70th anniversary of V-J Day, so for Saluteback Saturday, another look through the cartoons of A Bird's Eye View of the Postwar World. Another cartoon by William Wenzel illustrates the anticipation of the war's end:
"Your third from the left postwar plan is home, baby!"

The anticipation of a return to a normal home life was not limited to seeing one's loved ones again. At least of the flesh and bones variety -- America's love affair with the car was about to shift into high gear.

A generation that had grown up with Depression Era and War Time austerity was eager for an end to shortages and rationing. Aside from failing to foresee the mobile home, cartoonist Harvey Johnson wasn't terribly far off the mark:
"This is my first postwar plan. Every day I'm gonna drive in and say 'Fill'er up!'"

The return to normalcy was, nevertheless, going to take some getting used to.
"Please don't salute me any more, your lordship -- I'm no longer a colonel, nor you a captain!"
(Cartoonist identified only as "Medill" in the book credits)

"I beg your pardon but this is an old sailor habit that keeps coming back to me!"
(Cartoonist William Wenzel, again -- some editor having decided to print a mirror image of the cartoon!)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Q Toon: The Stonewall Boycott

This week's cartoon goes far afield from the centers of media attention, so let's start with the back story.

Next month, director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012)  is coming out with a movie, Stonewall, about the gay uprising that broke out when police raided a gay bar on the night of Judy Garland's death in June, 1969. According to Emmerich, the film is a “compelling, fictionalised drama of those days centering on homeless LGBT youth.” Imdb.com has this synopsis:
The plot revolves around the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the violent clash that kicked off the gay rights movement in New York City. The drama centers on Danny Winters [Jeremy Irvine], who flees to New York, leaving behind his sister [Joey King]. He finds his way to the Stonewall Inn, where he meets Trevor [Jonathan Rhys Meyers] before catching the eye of Ed Murphy [Ron Perlman], manager of the Stonewall. He colludes with corrupt police [Matt Craven] and exploits homeless youth [Caleb Landry Jones -- okay, I'm just guessing on that one].
Stonewall: movie
Publicity image from "Stonewall," the movie. Looks like a musical number.
The problem some LGBT activists have with the movie is that it appears to center on a white, "cisgendered" (as opposed to "transgendered") male character. Pat Cordova-Goff, described as "a trans activist feminine person of color," launched an on-line petition to boycott the movie, signed by over 23,000 persons as of yesterday:
From the previews alone, queer folks have gathered that the centralized character is a white cis gay man. (WHY?) From the previews alone, queer folks have gathered that not many people of color are even in the film. (WHY?) To make this short, we have also gathered that white folks are being credited in throwing the brick, starting the riots, starting the "gay liberation front" and also capturing the heart of a light-skinned transwomyn. (Of course we all fall in love with the white saviors. WRONG.)
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate 
؏
August 13, 2015
Emmerich and Irvine have responded that the role of non-whites and transgendered persyns is given its fair due in the movie. Emmerich posted on Facebook that:
I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed, but when this film - which is truly a labor of love for me - finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro — and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement which continues to this day. We are all the same in our struggle for acceptance.
Irvine posted on Instagram:
Marsha P Johnson is a major part of the movie, and although first hand accounts of who threw the first brick in the riots vary wildly, it is a fictional black transvestite character played by the very talented @vlad_alexis who pulls out the first brick in the riot scenes. ... In my opinion, the story is driven by the leader of this gang played by @jonnybeauchamp who gives an extraordinary performance as a Puerto Rican transvestite struggling to survive on the streets.
Now, if you see any of these people wresting the microphone from Bernie Sanders, you'll know what they're shouting about.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ted Rall Gets His Jaywalking Papers


In an era of Black Lives Matter and Je Suis Charlie, a 14-year-old accusation of rude policing during a jay-walking stop may seem pretty trivial.

In this case, it involves editorial cartoonist Ted Rall, a former president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, about as far left in the political spectrum as it is possible to be and still accept payment for one's work. Until recently, he had been freelancing cartoons and blog posts on a regular basis for the Los Angeles Times. In May, he described in a blog entry having been stopped by a police officer in 2001 for jaywalking.
I had done everything right. I waited for the green "walking man" signal before stepping off the curb. I walked between the crosswalk lines. I got across the street just as the flashing red signal began.
All of a sudden, a motorcycle officer zoomed over, threw me up against the wall, slapped on the cuffs, roughed me up and wrote me a ticket. It was an ugly scene, and in broad daylight it must have looked like one, because within minutes there were a couple of dozen passersby shouting at the cop.
Another motorcycle officer appeared, asked the colleague what the heck he was thinking and ordered him to let me go, which he did. But not before he threw my driver's license into the sewer.
http://rall.com/comic/the-lapd-told-the-la-times-to-fire-me-part-1-of-3
Apparently, that jaywalking stop is still alive in LAPD's cold case file, because someone in the LAPD provided a taped recording of the encounter to LA Times editors to refute Rall's account. The recording is mostly static, but what little one can hear of the conversation sounds as if Rall and Officer Will Durr were having a calm, professional encounter.

On the basis of this anonymously leaked tape, editor Nick Goldberg terminated The Times's relationship with Rall, explaining it in a Note to Times Readers on July 28:
An audiotape of the encounter recorded by the police officer does not back up Rall's assertions; it gives no indication that there was physical violence of any sort by the policeman or that Rall's license was thrown into the sewer or that he was handcuffed. Nor is there any evidence on the recording of a crowd of shouting onlookers.
In Rall's initial complaint to the LAPD, he describes the incident without mentioning any physical violence or handcuffing but says that the police officer was "belligerent and hostile" and that he threw Rall's license into the "gutter." The tape depicts a polite interaction.
In addition, Rall wrote in his blog post that the LAPD dismissed his complaint without ever contacting him. Department records show that internal affairs investigators made repeated attempts to contact Rall, without success. ...
However, the recording and other evidence provided by the LAPD raise serious questions about the accuracy of Rall's blog post. Based on this, the piece should not have been published.
Rall's future work will not appear in The Times.
The Los Angeles Times is a trusted source of news because of the quality and integrity of the work its journalists do. This is a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about what we publish.
Rall has paid to have the recording professionally enhanced, and the enhanced version does seem to reveal onlookers berating Officer Durr for handcuffing Rall. You can listen to the recording and read a transcript here. I've listened to it, and without the transcript, you don't learn much. His tech geeks claim that there is evidence of the dubbed tape provided to the Times having stops and splices in it, in which case the tape is not the reliable witness that one would expect it to be.

On the other hand, Rall has walked back "he threw my driver's license into the sewer" to "...into the gutter," and from there to "...on the ground," so my take is that his memory has made the incident more vivid over time. (Exaggeration is, after all, part of the job for us editorial cartoonists. Let's not bring Brian Williams into it, Mr. Gardner.)

Whatever you may think of Rall's role in this story, what is clear to me is that the Times acted in violation of its professional code of ethics (recounted here), in particular:
The new guidelines are quite specific concerning the question of if the Times should and should not rely on anonymous sources, stating:
"An unnamed source should have a compelling reason for insisting on anonymity, such as fear of retaliation, and we should state those reasons when they are relevant to what we publish.”
After a surprisingly long period of discernment, the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists has joined Rall in publicly protesting the Times's actions:
Determining the truth in this matter is important to Mr. Rall's personal and professional reputation, and to the rights of journalists to freely express themselves. Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times should have demanded a higher standard of proof in this matter, and it is clear that Mr. Rall is owed a full and complete analysis of the 14 year old tape used to make a judgment about his actions.
There isn't much profit or career advancement in drawing cartoons protesting timorous newspaper editors, so the first (and perhaps only) cartoonist rushing to his drawing board in Rall's defense is a South African artist, John Curtis. Adopting Rall's style, Curtis pretty much says all there is for a cartoonist to say on the matter:
John G. Curtis cartoon

Monday, August 10, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek


For the second week in a row, I can promise a virtually Trump-free cartoon.

I just don't know how long I can keep this up.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Oliphant on Nixon

Streakback Saturday this week falls on the 41st anniversary of the night President Richard Milhous Nixon announced his resignation. Nixon was a caricaturist's dream -- you could put those ski-slope nose, heavy jowls, and widow's peak on anything at all, and it was instantly recognizable as the 37th President of the United States.

By the time he was elected president on his second try in 1968, he had been Vice President for eight years, an ambitious Congressman before that, and a failed gubernatorial candidate in California, so established American cartoonists had pretty much settled upon how to draw him. There is little change in the Nixons drawn by Paul Conrad or Herb Block, for example, other than that famous "free shave" the latter gave the president-elect.

Patrick Oliphant, on the other hand, had come to America from Australia during Nixon's years in the wilderness, and it's interesting to see how his version of Nixon developed over the ensuing decade.

These are tracings I made in ballpoint pen of Oliphant's Nixons back in the distant days of my youth. (I wrote about Oliphant's Ford cartoons back in April.) They are by no means a complete representation of Oliphant's work, but only those cartoons I had in my collection of newspaper and magazine clippings started in 1973.

In Oliphant's cartoons from the 1968 campaign through Nixon's first term (above), all Nixon's major features are there, but the caricatures are on the gentle side. His face is stern in only two of these cartoons (in the December, 1970 one, Nixon himself is a bomber over Hanoi; in the June, 1972 one, he's jealous of Henry Kissinger at a state dinner.) Even dripping wet in February, 1969, he's put out, but not scowling.

It isn't until Nixon's second term that Oliphant's drawings of him start to acquire a monstrous quality.
I've skipped ahead to 1973 with these in order to play up the differences with what came before: the jowls are big enough to hide a muskmelon in each one. His eyes are often hooded, and his mouth almost disappears beneath that (presumably sweaty) upper lip.

The last of these Nixons is from a cartoon in the final week of his presidency, as the most damning evidence from the Nixon tapes convinced even his most ardent defenders that he had to go. In a black shirt and pin-striped suit, Nixon is cast as the hardened mafiosi from a '70's flick, offering one last, improbable defense, that he didn't know the smoking gun in his hand was loaded.

There are a few more Nixons from immediately after his resignation on this sheet, but most of them are from a single cartoon -- unrepresentative of the overall trend -- depicting Nixon as each of the characters at the Mad Hatter's tea party in Alice in Wonderland. Aside from that cartoon, Nixon tends for a while to appear as a forlorn, embittered figure in Oliphant's cartoons, often appearing only from the nose up peering over the wall around his San Clemente estate. Later on, he becomes an evil, shadowy figure offering devilish advocacy to later presidents, or merely as a counter to the eulogies that followed his death in 1994.

Once I started buying Oliphant's books (starting with Oliphant! in 1980), I didn't see much point in ruining them by tracing every caricature of every president in them, so I didn't keep it up. Besides, I eventually had my own cartoons to draw.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Q Toon: Be Thou Prepared

Last week, officials of the Boy Scouts of America announced that they were officially dropping their blanket opposition to LGBT adults serving as scout leaders. BSA National President Robert Gates (the former Defense Secretary) explained that "due to the social, political and legal changes taking place in our country and in our movement, I did not believe the adult leadership policy could be sustained."

LGBT activists were disappointed that  the new policy will not apply to troops sponsored by religious organizations for whom antigay discrimination is a precious tenet of faith. Given that 70% of Boy Scout troops are chartered by faith-based organizations, the new policy could be of little help to gay scouts nearing adulthood in troops sponsored by evangelical, Mormon, or Catholic congregations.

Some evangelical, Mormon and Catholic sponsors, however, are upset by the new policy as well.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Aug 6, 2015

Officials of the Mormon church were apparently on vacation when the policy change was made, and saw that as a problem in an of itself. The church issued a statement complaining, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined."

The Vatican hasn't issued any statement on the matter, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has been guarded in its reaction. Some local officials, on the other hand, aren't waiting for Holy Writ. Catholic Bishop David Kagan of Western North Dakota announced that, "Effective immediately, the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Bismarck and each and every one of its parishes, schools and other institutions is formally disaffiliated with and from the Boy Scouts of America."

A number of evangelical leaders reacted negatively, including Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who told the Associated Press, "Look, my advice to parents who are asking me about this is if you are concerned about the safety of your boys, you should run, not walk, away from the Boy Scouts as quickly as possible." Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd agreed, telling the Baptist Press, "Sadly and regrettably, I believe churches who stand on the biblical ethic of sexuality will have to cease their sponsorship and involvement in the Boy Scouts of America."
In this week's cartoon, I tried to come up with a name for the fictitious congregation whose council of elders is planning their next move. There are a lot of Catholic churches with "Our Lady" in the name, and "Latter Day" is exclusive to Mormons, but finding a word evoking evangelicals was a little more challenging. "Evangelism" is a core value of all Christian denominations (hence the "E" in the officially LGBT-friendly ELCA), so that word wouldn't work.

I settled on "Fellowship," which appears in the name of many a Baptist, non-denominational, and other fundamentalist church. Of course, other Christian denominations believe in fellowship, too; although, where I come from, the word is intimately associated with coffee and kringle.

Monday, August 3, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon involves some people sitting around a table, which means there must be backs of heads in the foreground.

That never happens on television, which is kind of a weird way to arrange things if you think too hard about it. Everybody sits on three sides of the table, even though they'd have more room if someone sat with his or her back to the camera.

I guess the other side of the table is up against the fourth wall.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sketches from a Photo Album

For Swooshback Saturday today, I beg your forgiveness for some purely personal nostalgia. (It's my birthday, and I'm ready to rechercher some temps perdu, if you don't mind.)

Looking for something else the other day, I came across these sketches I had done back in college of a few of my friends at the time. They are all drawn from photographs. Sort of.
Nancy V. and Lynn J., from a photo taken at an off-campus Hallowe'en party. Nancy came dressed as an elderly woman, and Lynn  dressed up all formal.

John S., from just hanging around. These drawings are in Bic ballpoint pen on one sheet of newsprint, which accounts for the color.

Eli H. In the original photograph, he was dancing at the Rueb 'n' Stein. It's possible that 131 was his room number.

My junior year roommate, Marc P. If I remember correctly, someone sitting to his right had just attacked his holdings in a game of Risk. We did have a flood in our dorm that year, but not in our room on the second floor.

Marc died the following summer, but the rest of these people are still very much with us.