Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Q Toon: Vale, Benny

The Associated Press may have made last week's cartoon moot, but as long as Benedict XIV doesn't change his mind about becoming Ex-Benedict I, I think this week's cartoon will stand.

As the cartoon states, Italian media have linked the Pope's abdication to his receiving a 300-page report on what is called the Vatileaks scandal, a report which will be turned over to whomever gets to be the next heir of St. Peter.  A report in La Repubblica alleges that Vatican clergy would meet clandestinely for partying and sexual encounters with men, some of them prostitutes, at such venues as a villa outside Rome, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlor in city center, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop. As relayed to us Anglophones by the Guardian of Great Britain:
The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called "Vatileaks" affair. ...According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising "two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red" had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope's successor upon his election. The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation".
In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature". The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail.
It quoted a source "very close to those who wrote [the cardinal's report]" as saying: "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments."
Panorama magazine followed up with NSFW video footage from their own undercover investigation:
The first [priest], a Frenchman about 35 years old, met the Panorama reporter Friday, July 2, at a gay party in a local neighborhood of Testaccio. In the evening, which included paid escort two men who danced naked with the priest and with other guests (then having sex with some of them), was also Charles, the second priest, who was aged between 45 and 50 years. The night ended at the home of Paul, where the reporter's gay accomplice asked the priest to wear the cassock and then had sex with him, filmed by hidden camera.
The next night, Paul and Charles made ​​an appointment with the Panorama reporter and his accomplice in the Gay Village in Rome, showing that they are comfortable in that environment. On this occasion, Charles was absent, having claimed several times to have had to do to avoid meeting those whom he had recognized as other priests or catechists. ... The next day, Sunday, July 4, Paul celebrated Mass on a table in his own home, in the presence of the Panorama reporter and his accomplice.
In this cartoon, Benedict takes the place of this guy at right in Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment" on the Sistine Chapel ceiling:

It is said that this guy represents Despair, or a person who is surprised to discover that he didn't live as good a life as he perhaps thought he did. Of all the damned souls on the right side of the painting, he is perhaps the most sympathetically rendered, although I've never read anything to suggest that Michelangelo had a specific person in mind (unlike several other faces in the painting). You'll find him below and to the right of St. Bartholemew, whose flayed skin is said to represent Michelangelo himself.

My dilemma artistically was that Mr. Despair is surrounded by a whole lot of open space, so I ended up moving several elements of Michelangelo's masterpiece into the cartoon frame from other places in the painting. The boatload of damned souls, for example, is from well below the character whose left buttock appears on the right side of this detail image.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The Associated Press today decided that husbands and wives get to be called husbands and wives, regardless of the sex of the people to whom they are legally wed.

From the latest update to the AP Stylebook:

"Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested.
"'The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of husband and wife," said AP Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News Mike Oreskes. 'All the previous conversation was in the absence of such a formal entry. This lays down clear and simple usage. After reviewing existing practice, we are formalizing ''husband, wife'' as an entry.'" 
A few of the publications which run my cartoon made it out onto the streets with this week's episode of Ed & Smitty before the AP decision came down. My apologies to the rest.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Q Toon: AP Style, Part Deux

Having banished "homophobia" from the journalistic lexicon, the Associated Press has now decided that gay and lesbian married couples do not deserve to be called "husbands" and "wives." The AP would prefer to refer to them as "partners," putting them on a par with couples who are not married  to or can not marry each other.
“We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves 'husband' and 'wife.' Our view is that such terms may be used in AP stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”
After some bloggers and journalists complained about the unequal treatment of same-sex couples vis-a-vis their different-sex counterparts, the AP clarified that it is willing to use the H and W words if the couple is somehow on the record as "regularly" referring to themselves that way. The original guideline was rephrased thusly:
"Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms ('Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones' or in quotes attributed to them. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages."
Now I don't suppose that means that if my Domestic Partner and I start going around regularly calling ourselves "husbands" that the AP will dutifully follow suit -- should we ever become newsworthy. But I have to wonder what confusion those AP editors think they are clarifying by preferring "partner" to describe a person in a civil union or same-sex marriage. "Partner" applies to any number of relationships ("Smith has sold the remainder of the firm to his partner, John Jones"; "Smith impressed the judges by dancing the tango with his partner, John Jones"), whereas "husband" or "wife" applies only to one.

Monday, February 18, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's Q Syndicate cartoon marks the return of mild-mannered reporter Smitty and his as yet unnamed editor (I'm considering "Perry Brown" or "Here Come Old Flat Top") as the Associated Press announces further changes in its style guidelines for LGBT terminology.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Here's how you can tell that the Violence Against Women Act was a product of the Democratic Party: its name.

Only Democrats would name their bill for the thing that it's against. Then they go into the next election cycle and wonder why they can't get anyone else to be as upset as they are that Congressman Roger Republican wouldn't support the Violence Against Women Act. Congressman Roger Republican has known all along that there is no down side to being against Violence Against Women.

Republicans would have had Frank Luntz test market potential names for the bill until he found one that no politician in his right mind would ever want to be caught voting against. The Domestic Tranquility Act, perhaps. The Safeguarding Our Mothers and Daughters Act, maybe.

Of course, Republicans would also have included provisions that defined abortion as a form of domestic violence and offered tax breaks to citizens who arm themselves with semiautomatic machine guns to prevent it. Then, come the next election season, Citizens for Growth and their Koch Conspirators could blanket the airwaves with claims that Congressman Percy Pro-Choice is against Safeguarding Our Mothers and Daughters!

See how that works?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Benedict Who?

I went out this morning (and yesterday morning) in search of a newspaper with a good headline about Pope Benedict's abdication for my annual Year In Headlines photo, and  I didn't find one. (Oh, to have access to the Philadelphia, Tampa or Yankton, S.D. newspapers, alas.) The announcement came too late for yesterday morning's newspapers, and way too early for today's.

The local newspaper, the Racine Journal Times, chose to lead with a local story about a candidate for Superintendent of Schools. Since the abdication itself was yesterday's news, other area papers ran follow-up headlines. The Kenosha News, which can be counted on to run an old-fashioned bold, large, sans serif banner headline every day, had something along the lines of BENEDICT LED CHURCH IN CHANGING TIMES, which, while true of Benedict XVI, could also be said of every Pope since Leo X.

USA Today and the Milwaukee and Chicago papers lead with headlines looking beyond the resignation itself to speculation about what comes next. Again, true enough, but eleven months from now, you're not going to remember where you were when you found out that a new pope would lead the church at a crossroads.

Which left me with the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, whose headlines state the fact of the abdication plainly and succinctly, if not in a point size that will be legible at the upper left corner of the year-end photograph.

It's just too bad that I can't get the New York tabloids around here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sneak Peek Hujus Hebdomadis

It looks like that Mayhem guy has struck again.

It also looks like my cartoon was drawn just hours before a much bigger story than the one I drew about broke. You're welcome, editors across the nation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Q Toon: Imagine!

This week's cartoon is one of those that probably need footnotes to work. Unless you've been reading the same blogs and newspapers I have, or watched the same news and late night shows, you may not realize that I'm making fun of specific things people have said.

Well, that's what this blog is for, I guess.

Buster Wilson of the American Family Association argued against letting gay scouts and scoutmasters into the Boy Scouts of America, painting a scary word picture of scouts in peril:
Imagine with me a troop of young boys, ranging in ages from 12-16. These young boys are going to be out in the woods, away from their parents. Not just away from their parents but away from any contact with their parents. Back in my day, there were no cell phones. And today, most camps sites are out cell range.
They would be out in the woods for 2-4 days, nights, depending on what time of the year it was. They will sleep in pairs or threes, in sleeping bags, in tents or out in the open. They will shower and wash in the creeks or lakes that outline their camp site. It would be nothing for boys to wonder about with their shirts off, or sometimes just in their underwear or swim suit because they had just been to the latrine or to the swimming hole. 
Yes, let's let our imaginations run wild with Buster and the boys...

Now, for that last frame, I shift over to a Wall Street Journal columnist's argument against allowing women to serve in combat. I'm not sure if that's the same guy who used the exact same phrasing on CNN (and shown on the Daily Show) or if that's one of the Talking Points Frank Luntz sent out to all the right wingers to parrot that day. I'm sure Buster would have happily incorporated Ryan Smith's argument into his own if he had gotten the memo in time.

Monday, February 4, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

There is a house in New Orleans,
It's called the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
It's been the ruin of many a poor boy.
And God, I know.
I'm the head electrician.