Wednesday, December 29, 2021

All God's Children Got a Robe

In memory of Archbishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Mpile Tutu, who entered into life eternal on December 26, 2021:

Most Rev. Tutu is most identified, of course, with the struggle in South Africa against apartheid, but he also has had plenty to say, as far back as the 1970's, in support of homosexual rights. This passage from God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations continues:

It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God's family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are. ....

To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was.

The Archbishop spoke out against persecution of gays and lesbians by political and religious leaders, including those in other nations of Africa:

“[A] wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal…In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic…because the clerics wanted gay men excluded. Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi. These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.” (in Washington Post, March 12, 2010)

It is largely to Most Rev. Tutu's credit that the 1996 South African constitution is the first in the world to guarantee the rights of that nation's LGBTQ+ citizens. There certainly was no popular clamor to have LGBTQ+ rights enshrined in the constitution; South Africa was not Castro on the Cape, on either side of the color line. But Tutu actively lobbied for it, and had the moral force to get it done.

The issue was no doubt personal for him as well as political. He gave his blessing to the wedding of his daughter, Rev. Mpho Andrea Tutu to Marceline van Furth, a marriage that got her defrocked by the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay. Tutu van Furth has said of her family, "I had the extreme good fortune of growing up in a household with parents who were very clear about their faith and very clear about full inclusion of all people... regardless of gender and gender identity and regardless of sexual orientation."

Why, yes, that name on the shingle outside shop in my cartoon is that of the actual patron saint of tailors, seamstresses, clothworkers and cobblers. I hadn't known that when I decided to look up their patron saint to be the proprietor of the heavenly haberdashery.

That his name happened to be homo-friendly was, shall we say, bonus.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Instead of the usual edit snipped from the coming Thursday's cartoon, here is a cartoon I drew for Q Syndicate in November of 1998.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas, 1921

We started last week's look at Christmas cartoons from 1921 with examples from Germany. This week's cartoons are from the United States, but we'll start with this one about Germany.

"Eine Christmas Fantasy" by Ellison Hoover in Life magazine, Dec. 22, 1921

By and large, the American cartoons are distinguished from the German ones by a Yankee sense of humor rather than a lot of Teutonic severity. 

Not that the Americans couldn't be serious. The daily one-column-inch front page cartoon on the Christmas Day edition of Brooklyn Daily Eagle (often by editorial page cartoonist Nelson Harding, but I don't find his initials on this one) references the Washington Naval Conference negotiating international arms control, but it could be equally a propos today for different reasons.

"Here And Now" in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 25, 1921

Eat your heart out, Massie and Boebert!

"The Profiteer's Son..." in Life Magazine, Dec. 22, 1921

As in Germany, profiteers were a major target of American cartoonists.

I have not been able to identify this cartoonist — that worm-like figure behind Junior Profiteer is the cartoonist's signature, in case any of you reading this are familiar with him or her.

"Christmas for Two" by John Baer, ca. Dec. 23, 1921

Union cartoonist and former Congressman John Baer echoes the previous cartoonist's sentiments in this bleak holiday offering.

"Merry Christmas" by Dorman H. Smith for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. Dec. 24, 1921

Republican cheerleader Dorman H. Smith chose to accentuate the positive in his Christmas cartoon. (I'd note that he was celebrating the naval holiday a bit early.)

"Aw, You Can't Fool Me" by H.T. Webster in Life magazine, Dec. 22, 1921

Harold Webster, whose syndicated newspaper cartoons hardly ever touched on politics, here takes on the Harding administration's proposed alternative to Wilson's League of Nations, and anti-League Republican Senator William Borah of Idaho.

"Which Shall Win?" by Louis Raemaekers in Life magazine, Dec. 29, 1921

Some of the serious stuff, however, had to be imported. Dutch cartoonist Louis Raemaekers earned his fame drawing scathing cartoons against the Kaiser's Germany. Here his target, judging from the costumes, is further east.

But today is Christmas, dammit, so let's just cut to the merriment and jollity.

"Jimminy Christmus" by Elmer Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. Dec. 24, 1921

Well, lookie here. At least one of the items on Jim's Christmas wish list will warm the cockles of Massie, Boebert, and the rest of the ammosexual crowd. 

"Jerry on the Job" by Walter Hoban, Dec. 24, 1921

Children's hopes for Christmas bounty have long been an evergreen topic for cartoonists. Walter Hoban's comic strip, "Jerry on the Job," stars this little boy who has a difficult-to-determine job at an office where nobody has heard of child labor laws. 

Jerry looks to me to be a few years younger than Webster's Jimmy; both are old enough to have figured out where Santa's gifts really come from.

"Smilin' Through" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 25, 1921

Other cartoonists used their Christmas Day space to remind readers of the spirit of the season.

"The Merry Christmas Spirit" by Rae Irvin in Life magazine, Dec. 8, 1921
Or, if you will, the lack thereof.

"Yule Log Tales" by Elmer Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. Dec. 26, 1921

Daily Cartoonist relayed the announcement this week that Gannett newspapers would not print editions on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday this week or next, a surprisingly long vacation in the news biz. Skipping a Christmas Day edition used to be quite common, particularly for afternoon newspapers; I'm  not finding any three-day hiatuses (hiati? Naah.) in 1921, however.

Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Sunday Star, Dec. 25, 1921

Christmas Day, 1921, was a Sunday, so some of the evening papers put out their regular Sunday editions. Others took Monday off instead.

"An Empty Mask Without Them" by Harry Murphy for Star Company, ca. Dec. 24, 1921

Depriving the kiddies of their Sunday funnies on Christmas, after all, would have been positively Grinchy!

"From the Evening World" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, Dec. 24, 1921
From the Evening World, and from my world, too. A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Q Toon: The Great Right North

Here's a lede U.S. conservatives are very unlikely to match any time soon:

Conservatives led the charge in Canada's Parliament to vote to ban conversion therapy for minors.

The Senate voted without any objections on the bill proposed by Conservative Senator Leo Housakos and fast-tracked through all legislative stages December 7. Previously, the House of Commons voted unanimously to pass the bill brought forward by Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, who has become a proponent of LGBTQ rights since becoming head of the party. O'Toole allowed his party to have a free vote on the issue.

In an unusual occurrence, conservatives voted in agreement with their liberal counterparts.

"The community has been heard," Housakos said in the Senate, reported the Toronto Star.

"It was heard by the House of Commons and we saw the House of Commons do the right thing and pass this piece of legislation unanimously and they did so because they thought it was in the national interest to do so," Housakos continued.

The Senate's passage of the bill requires royal assent from the Governor General or her designate for it to become law, reported the paper.

Assuming that Joe Manchin is not the Governor General of Canada, it looks good for Canada to become the sixth nation to ban conversion therapy, which uses psychological, physical, or spiritual pressure to convert a patient's sexual orientation or gender identity.

20 states and the District of Columbia ban conversion therapy, and there are restrictions in five more. In Wisconsin, for example, while conversion therapy on minors isn't illegal, an executive order by Governor Evers prohibits use of state funds for it. Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, on the other hand, have brought suit in federal court to prevent local governments from enforcing their own bans.

It's mighty difficult to imagine any more than a scattered few U.S. Republicans casting any pro-LGBTQ votes, incurring the vengeful wrath of the right-wing rage machine and the televangelicabal. So let's hear it for the brave and principled conservatives of our neighbor to the north!


Tuesday, December 21, 2021


A cousin of mine reports that his Tesla does just fine driving itself, except for one thing. Apparently, it gets very confused by flashing yellow arrows, which seem to be all the rage in traffic control design these days.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Weimar Weihnachten

It has been a while since we've checked in on what German editorial cartoonists were up to a century ago, so let's see how they celebrated a not so particularly Fröhliche Weihnachten in 1921.

But first, another trigger warning! If you were offended by the words I put in Pat Buchanan's mouth in last Saturday's retrospective, prepare for some unpleasant images here. German cartoonists were no better or worse than their white American counterparts in their depictions of other races and religions. One can argue, I suppose, whose cartoons were more or less responsible for more or less horrific consequences.

"Der Deutschen Treue Weihnachtsbaum" by Werner Hahmann in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, Dec. 25, 1921

We start here with a cover cartoon lamenting the territories Germany lost in the Versailles peace agreement.

I don't believe you should attach any other significance to the six-pointed star, by the way, except that it was the traditional topper for any respectable Weihnachtsbaum. When cartoonists wanted to convey anti-Semitic or racist messages, there was no need to be circumspect about it.

For example:

"Der Verdächtige Christkind" by Hans-Maria Lindloff in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, Dec. 11, 1921

Senegalese troops had played a significant role in the Allies' defeat of German troops in the Second Battle of the Marne; von Hindenburg's account in his 1920 memoir, Mein Leben, wrote, "Where there were no tanks our enemy sent black waves against us. Waves of black Africans! Woe to us when these waves reached our lines and massacred or worse, tortured our defenseless men!"

Continued deployment during the armistice of troops from France's African colonies led to the postwar "Black Horror on the Rhine" rumors, kept alive by the nationalist press and cartoonists. Germans concocted stories of Moroccan and Senegalese troops, sent into the Rhineland in 1920 in response to the Reichwehr occupation of the demilitarized zone there, raping German women and girls at a rate of hundreds per day — baseless stories sensationally repeated abroad by horrified Whites, both right-wing and liberal, in Britain, Canada, Sweden, Italy, and the U.S.

Now, "Es" in the last sentence of the cartoon caption is usually translated to English as "It," and the Christkind, who traditionally brings gifts to children in Germany and Austria, is supposed to be a boy angel — but then, angels in art can sometimes look fairly androgynous. This one certainly does; it's probably the skirt. I've translated the pronoun "Es" as "She," reasoning that Lindloff here clearly wants his readers to read his cartoon in light of those "Schwarze Schmach" rape allegations.

"Der Heilige Spekulatius" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, Dec. 18, 1921

As you would expect, there were plenty of anti-Semitic cartoons about Jews, such as this one of a banker chasing after St. Nicholas. St. Spekulatius's halo, in this case, is a U.S. dollar; the trim of his gown is decorated with pigs.

Arthur Johnson is making a play on words: spekulatius is a traditional yuletide cookie, often depicting St. Nicholas riding a donkey or horse. The word derives from the Latin "speculator," meaning overseer (and from which we get the word "bishop"), but which also has the meaning of an investor who makes his income betting on the success or failure of others.

Cartoons against speculators in this period were not confined to the German press by any means. Plenty of American cartoonists also criticized profiteers of commodities, rents, and so forth; but while American cartoonists of the 1920's could be equally racist, most of their profiteers were drawn in a more generic, if corpulent, way.

"Die Putschschachtel" by Ernst Schilling in Simplicissimus, Munich, Jan. 1, 1922

In Ernst Schilling's yuletide cartoon, the forced demilitarization of Germany after the Great War has resulted in firing squads, attempted coups, and destruction. Nothing working any more, and Krampus seems to be mighty happy about it all.

But even in the doom and gloom of this interwar German Christmas, a few cartoonists managed to view events with a bit of humor that we might even recognize today.

"Das Letzte Paar" by Richard Rost in Jugend, Munich, Dec., 1921

And you thought we had supply chain issues today! 

"Die Botschaft von Washington" by Th. Th. Heine in Simplicissimus, Munich, Dec. 21, 1921

Thomas Theodor Heine employs Christmas imagery in this cartoon about U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and the multilateral naval arms limitation treaty being hammered out in Washington D.C. I suspect that Heine saw a resemblance between Mr. Hughes and the traditional German image of Kris Kringle.

And as long as I've brought up the Washington Naval Conference, I'll close with a cartoon that isn't on a particularly Christmasy theme — unless the lectionary at your church next week includes Isaiah 2:4 or Joel 3:10. Whatever. I really like this image.

"Abrüstung" by Erich Wilke in Jugend, Munich, December, 1921

Friede auf Erden und guten Willen für alle!

And if the Christkind shows up at a school in your town this season, it's none of your business which bathroom they use.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Q Toon: A Very Ammosexual Xmas

Ammosexual activist Congresstroll Raymond Massie (R-KY) responded to the latest schoolhouse shooting by posting on social media a photo of himself and his family brandishing high-powered rifles in front of their Christmas tree. He captioned the photo, "ps. Santa, bring ammo."

Not to be outdone, fellow congressional gun nut Lauren Boebert (R-CO) quickly followed suit with a photo posed in front of her Christmas tree with her own kids ready to fill the holiday air with hail upon hail of bullets. Sorry-Not-Sorry about children shooting children, right? Way to own the libs!

This is what the Republican Party has become: a fight to see who can be the biggest asshole.

With their gerrymandered stranglehold on so much of government, and their partisan lackeys dominating the courts for decades to come, they will be the death of democracy. 

And then they will post snarky selfies of themselves dancing on its grave.

Monday, December 13, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

My better half had some Sirius-XM holiday channel playing while we were tidying and decorating a week or so ago. "Acoustic Christmas," I believe it was called.

The playlist was predominantly solo singers accompanied by an acoustic guitar, ukulele, or minimal piano. As one fellow sang softly over a gently plucked guitar, I remarked on how many of the songs sounded so goddam sad.

"This song is supposed to be sad," explained my better half.

"It's 'The Chipmunk Song,'" I replied. "He just sang 'Me, I want a hula hoop.'"

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Remembering Bob Dole

Former Senate Majority/Minority Leader Bob Dole, the Republicans' nominee for Vice President in 1976 and for President twenty years after that, died this last Sunday at the age of 98. Sunflower Stateback Saturday remembers the World War II veteran and longtime Senator from Kansas with a smattering of the editorial cartoons I've drawn of him over the decades.

A few trigger warnings here: I disagreed with Senator Dole on a very wide range of issues, so my cartoons of him are not particularly flattering of him. The following is more obituary than eulogy. For the most part, I have avoided the harshest of my cartoons. But Mr. Dole was known for his sense of humor and was not above a little self-deprecation — witness the subtitle of this book of his —so I hope I have chosen some that would have elicited, if not a chuckle, at least a wry smile from him.

Cover art by Barry Bliss
A second trigger warning: one of these cartoons includes some offensive language, including a term that got another cartoonist in trouble this week. None of those offensive words were put in Senator Dole's mouth, however. (Psst. If you think that using racism and homophobia to criticize racism and homophobia makes me racist and homophobic, just skip the cartoon shaded in red.)

Now then. To start off, here's the earliest cartoon of Senator Dole in my files:

Unpublished, March, 1978

This isn't the first cartoon I ever drew of Bob Dole; I'm quite certain that I drew one or two of him while he was President Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976. Any earlier cartoons I drew, however, were left behind during a trip to Minneapolis. In fact, I think this is a redrawing from memory of one of the lost cartoons.

General Omar Torrijos, by the way, was the military leader of Panama in the 1970's. Conservative Republicans and Democrats objected to the U.S. turning the Panama Canal over to Torrijos's leftist government, but the Senate approved the two treaties in March and April, 1978, 68 to 32.

in UW-Parkside Ranger, February 25, 1988

When he joined the Republican ticket in 1976, Dole gained a reputation as Gerald Ford's "hatchet man." The most memorable of his attack lines was during his debate with Walter Mondale, deflecting a question about President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon by characterizing World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, and the war in Vietnam as "Democrat wars." Not a particularly funny line, I suppose, but on the other hand, nobody was discussing that pardon the next morning.

Dole was among the many Republican presidential also-rans in 1980, and threw his hat in the ring again to succeed Ronald Reagan in 1988. In those days, Republican presidential nominations tended to go to the man when the party faithful felt it was "his turn"; in 1988, the Vice Presidential nominee who had been on a successful ticket took priority over one on a ticket that fell short.

in UW-Milwaukee Post, September 11, 1995

It took another eight years for Dole's turn to come around, and in the twenty years since he was last on a presidential ticket, the Republican Party had begun some significant changes. It had taken in a bunch of States' Rights Southern Democrats; and after eight years of Ronald Reagan, there was no limit on how far to the right candidates could go and still be taken seriously.

in UW-M Post, February 26, 1996
As far some in the party were concerned, years in congressional leadership were not an asset but a liability; Pat Buchanan and other fresher faces derided Dole with the nickname "Beltway Bob" and accused him of being too old to become President. At 73, Dole was four years older than Ronald Reagan had been when elected — but five years younger than Joseph Robinette Biden would be in 2020.
in UW-M Post, September 19, 1996
More durable than the slings and arrows of Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, and the rest of the lot was Norm MacDonald's impersonation of Dole on Saturday Night Live. Gruff, broken sentences. Referring to himself by name.

Dole was a good sport about it, however, appearing on the show and telling MacDonald, “Believe me, Norm. Running for president doesn’t always keep you in the front pages — unless you take a dive off the podium” — a reference to a campaign mishap parodied mercilessly on SNL.

in UW-M Post, October 17, 1996

And thus ends my Dole cartoons. He lost the 1996 election to Bill Clinton, and, although his wife made some attempt to make him the first First Gentleman, he retired to the life of an elder statesman and author.

In his book on presidential humor, Dole took as cautionary examples Martin Van Buren and Millard Fillmore, two presidents rejected by the American electorate, yet who attempted, and failed miserably at, political comebacks.

I try to keep their sobering examples in mind when asked about the possibility of again seeking the presidency. Then I repeat something attributed to W.C. Fields: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."

Rest in peace, Senator Dole.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Q Toon: Set in Boldface Hype

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), a leader in his party's fight against the fight against global pandemics, was on Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade's podcast on World AIDS Day last week. He acknowledged the occasion by accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden, of exaggerating the danger from COVID-19 as well as from HIV/AIDS.

“Fauci did the exact same thing with AIDS. He overhyped it,” Johnson told Kilmeade.

“He created all kinds of fear, saying it could affect the entire population when it couldn’t,” Johnson said, without citing scientific evidence. “And he’s doing, he’s using the exact same playbook with COVID, ignoring therapy, pushing a vaccine.”

Update: And now, Johnson has told a "town-hall" phone call, “By the way, standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus. If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?” Do I really need to tell you that no medical professional or mouthwash company agrees with him?

Anti-vaxxer Johnson should, by all rights, be an embarrassment to the state of Wisconsin, except that there are vast expanses of the state where folks think that a background in business entitles one to spew bullshit at will. PolitiFact has no problem coming up with over a dozen "Mostly False" to "Pants On Fire" statements by him.

In March, he told radio host Joe "Pags" Pagliano that the Capitol rioters on January 6 "were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law. Now, had the tables been turned, and Joe — this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa, I might have been a little concerned."

And, yes, he doesn't think January 6 was an armed insurrection, but he does want Hunter Biden investigated.

Johnson hasn't yet announced whether he'll run for a third term next year, although his full-throated endorsement of Trumpism, conspiracy nonsense, and COVID denial has convinced other Republicans to stay out of the race. On the other side of the primary ballot, twelve Democrats to date have launched campaigns to unseat him.

Democrats think Johnson's is the one Republican Senate seat they can flip in 2022, and a group called "Opportunity Wisconsin" has been advertising heavily here all year urging us to tell him to stop doing bad things. For much of the fall, its ads starred a former employee of Hufcor blaming Johnson for a tax break that rewarded Hufcor for moving overseas. The current TV ad features a navy submarine veteran accusing Johnson of voting for tax cuts that resulted in Johnson doubling his wealth.

The Opportunity Wisconsin ad blitz started last February by telling Johnson to stop blocking COVID-19 relief checks. No wonder he thinks the pandemic has been overhyped — relief checks only encourage people not to work. Tax cuts encourage employers to lay them off.

Meanwhile, here are the facts about HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, just in case anyone out there actually thinks they have been overhyped:

New HIV infections have been reduced by 52% since the peak in 1997. 

  • In 2020, around 1.5 million [1.0 million–2.0 million] people were newly infected with HIV, compared to 3.0 million [2.1 million–4.2 million] people in 1997.
  • 37.7 million [30.2 million–45.1 million] people globally were living with HIV in 2020.
  • 79.3 million [55.9 million–110 million] people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic.
  • 36.3 million [27.2 million–47.8 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 64% since the peak in 2004 and by 47% since 2010.

  • In 2020, around 680,000 [480,000–1 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 1.9 million [1.3 million–2.7 million] people in 2004 and 1.3 million [910,000–1.9 million] people in 2010.

People living with HIV experience more severe outcomes and have higher comorbidities from COVID-19 than people not living with HIV. In mid-2021, most people living with HIV did not have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Studies from England and South Africa have found that the risk of dying from COVID-19 among people with HIV was double that of the general population.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two thirds (67%) of people living with HIV. But the COVID-19 vaccines that can protect them are not arriving fast enough. In July 2021, less than 3% of people in Africa had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

And here is the death toll from COVID-19, as of last night:

5,294,887 deaths worldwide; 813,904 in the U.S.

In just two years. 


Saturday, December 4, 2021

There Will Almost Be an Ireland

Now that Barbados has thrown off the shackles of British rule, by a happy coincidence, it happens to be time to mark the centennial of the Irish Free State.

Here's what American editorial cartoonists had to say about it.

"For Ireland" by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, December 7, 1921

The Anglo-Irish Agreement of December 6, 1921 came just as talks to end the three-year-long Irish War of Independence appeared to be on the brink of breaking down, imperiling a truce that had been in effect since July.

"The Balky Horse" by Wm. C. Morris for George Matthews Adams Service, Nov./Dec., 1921

The Irish rebellion was only one of several signs that, while it might have been true that "the sun never sets on the British Empire," dark clouds were gathering to block it out here and there.

"The British Dilemma" by Billy Ireland in Columbus (OH) Dispatch, Nov./Dec., 1921

(Billy Ireland here includes a common reference to the two cats of Kilkenny.)

The Anglo-Irish treaty provided for an "Irish Free State" (Saorstát Éireann), not as a completely independent country, but as with dominion status. It would have its own legislature while remaining within the British Empire and swearing allegiance, albeit somewhat conditional, to the British crown.

"It's Only Taken About 750 Years..." by J.N. "Ding" Darling in  New York Tribune, December 8, 1921

The news was received with enthusiastic relief by nearly all cartoonists on this side of the pond as a sign that seven and a half centuries of conflict had finally come to an end. Full stop.

"The Journey's End" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, December 7, 1921

But the divvil, as they say, was in the details.

"'Big Brother' John" by Elmer Bushnell for Central Press Assn., by Dec. 10, 1921

The six counties of majority-Protestant Ulster (Northern Ireland) had already set up a Daíl and Seanad separate from those of the isle's 26 majority-Catholic counties back in July, and the treaty provided Ulster the opportunity to opt out of the Irish Free State. It took that opportunity in December, 1922.

"Is the Ancient Feud Really Settled At Last" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, Dec. 1921

A significant faction of the Irish Republican Army, moreover, and its political wing, Sinn Fein, rejected the Irish Free State in favor of a unified Ireland, completely independent of the British Empire.

John McCutcheon's is the earliest American cartoon I've found that suggested any misgivings about the Anglo-Irish Treaty's long-term prospects.

"Now, Old Top, We May Lie Down Together" by Wm. H. Walker in Life magazine, Dec. 29, 1921

William Walker here runs a close second.

"Confidence Rather One-Sided" by Albert T. Reid in New York Evening Mail, December, 1921

Incidentally, it's not as if the U.S. didn't have its own off-shore territories clamoring for independence, too.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Q Toon: Netflix and Chilling Effect

The Russian Interior Ministry is investigating a government bureaucrat's complaint that the streaming service Netflix is violating that country's regulations against LGBTQ+ content.

The complaint comes from Olga Baranets, a commissioner from St. Petersburg who has a history of alarmist campaigning against what she calls "gay propaganda." News reports give her the title of "the public commissioner for protecting families" — although they don't ever seem to capitalize it, so I don't know how formal a title that is supposed to be. 

At issue is the video rating system in Russia (the equivalent of the G-PG-PG13-R-NC17 system of the U.S. Motion Picture Association) and its laws "for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values."

It’s not clear if any specific show or promotion sparked Baranets’ complaints, but she claims that Netflix has labelled shows with what Russian censors equate to “deviant” content were given a 16+ rating. Any shows with “deviant” content have to receive an 18+ rating.

Baranets says that there is a “colorful collection of films and TV series tells about the lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people” that is currently receiving a 16+ rating.

Given the Russian government's strong antigay policies, it's easy to imagine the Interior Ministry coming down hard on Netflix if the streaming service doesn't kowtow to Olga Baranets's demands.  Netflix could be fined or shut down in Russia entirely. 

Either way would be bound to have a chilling effect on any other film and television service hoping to operate behind the Iron Putin.