Archive for April, 2005

April 21, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

Keith writes:

Sorry your man didn’t get elected pope, but I think this is definitely a step in the right direction for the catholic church. The greatest danger facing Christianity in America and most of the civilized world is not persecution but influence of the so-called “secular progressives”, those people who do not believe in the bible and think the church should change what it believes to match what society believes.

I don’t know if there are really ANY dangers facing Christianity in American today except that most so-called Christians don’t practice what they preach. Hypocrisy undermines every belief system in the end, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a historical precedent with greater hypocrisy than a nation whose religion considers its most pestilential greedheads virtuous.

The main issues constantly brought up are abortion,
birth control, homosexuality, priest celibacy, and women priests. As I said in my previous email, I disagree that there is no scriptural basis for the lack of women priests (I think 1 Timothy says that there should not be women priests) and priest celibacy (again according to 1 Timothy I believe priest celibacy is specifically prohibited).

Quoting the Bible doesn’t mean much to me—after all, the Old Testament permits human sacrifice while the New Testament quotes Jesus’ admonition that only the sinless may pass punishment and we ignore both—but the Christianists should at least get their Scriptures right. In fact, that quote in Timothy doesn’t say anything about women priests and you have to stretch absurdly far to even see the relationship between the two topics.

About homosexuality the bible is clear again and again, there is no debate on the bibles stand on homosexuality. The church should not accept openly homosexual priests any more then it should accept priests who openly use illegal drugs, engage in adultery, or any other behavior which brings discredit about their office. It is not that homosexuality is any better or any worse than other sins, but it is still a sin, and a congregation should not openly tolerate a priest who is living in sin.

Tell you what: I’ll tell all my gay friends that they’re sinners when you tell all your rich friends that they’re sinners. While there is one fairly obscure Old Testament citation about homosexuality, Jesus repeatedly says that those who seek material wealth are scum and doomed to eternal hellfire. Oh, and while we’re at it: the Old Testament also prohibits onanism, a.k.a. ejaculating for purposes other than procreation. So hold it in, horny Christianist soldiers.

On birth control, this is a touchy issue. Until such
time as it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt when life begins (I don’t think this will ever be possible but who knows) then I am going to assume, based on scripture (I forget the exact reference but it talks about God knowing and forming you in the womb), that life begins at the instant of conception. Because I believe this I cannot condone the use of any birth control measure that allows the egg to be fertilized but does not allow the fertilized egg to implant in the uterine walls and fully develop. Abortion obviously falls into this category but so does the so called abortion pill, the Inter-uterine device (IUD) and even the progesterone only pill (note, this is different from the normal “pill” which is actually a combination of progesterone and estrogen). Other methods such as the combination pill which works by preventing ovulation, or the so-called barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, etc, etc, are perfectly acceptable because they function by preventing fertilization.

I assume you’ll let the new Pope know that condoms are A-OK, then. There are lots of Africans who’ll be happy to know that.

I applaud the catholic church for standing up for what is right and for electing a pope who will (hopefully) stand for the things of God without caving in to public opinion.

Of course, Catholicism is notable for its willingness to adapt to changing times (albeit a few centuries late). We’ll have women priests sooner than you think—as the early church did for centuries.

Frequent correspondent Fred says:

Everytime you call Reagan evil you…. oh why bother? You’re not going to change my mind on him and I’m not going to change yours.

Reagan admitted that his invasion of Grenada was done for purely geopolitical purposes, to flex muscle in a proxy war against the Soviet Union, and that the country was no threat to the US or its allies. So he ordered US troops to kill people anyway. That makes him an evil murdering motherfucker. And if murdering people doesn’t make you evil, what does?

On the new Pope bveing a Nazi…. while I’m not wild about the choice I find it very funny how liberals, who hate being labeled and repuduged themselves, are always among the first to fling out unfounded and largely unfair accusations without a shred of proof or a hint of compassion.

Compassion? Fuck that. Germans like him had a choice—they could have fled and joined the partisans. Many did; teenagers were the base of the resistance throughout Europe. In the New York Times a puff piece notes that he joined the Nazi party for careerist reasons. I don’t doubt that it was difficult to do the right thing back then and I’m not saying those who didn’t should be pilloried for life, but forgiveness shouldn’t extend to elevating such colossal sinners to the papacy.

Yes, Ratzinger/Benedict is a conservative hard-liner, but then so was John Paul II. If you don’t believe me, as the huge number of priests he had removed from teaching posts around the world for prewaching about boirth control, abortion, gay issues, and the like. Benedict, who is 78 after all, won’t be around as long as JP II, but he’ll likely be no better or worse either.

Who knows? He may turn out fine. Right now we’re all guessing based on past behavior that may or may not translate to future actions.

Media Labels

Andy writes:

“Controversial cartoonist Ted Rall,” I never thought about it but I guess that is pretty silly. Still there are plenty of liberals and conservatives alike who enjoy wrapping themselves in the word controversial or radical. Wasn’t it Goldwater with that extremism quote. That’s sort of the same thing. Maybe the media should say: America’s BS detector Ted Rall, or hard-hitting editorial cartoonist Ted Rall, HAHA, the vultures will use that… when pigs fly.
Question: did any of the conservatives who responded to your column address you as “Controversial Cartoonist Ted Rall” as in “Dear Controversial Cartoonists Ted Rall?” I suppose that would be a bit of an improvement over, “Dear Homophobic Curse Word.”

No, but a bunch of liberals did. There are some funny conservatives out there, but by and large humor belongs to the left.

Lying Cops

Dave writes:

Thanks for the great column. As a footnote to your expose on police misconduct, let the record state that NO ONE OF IMPORTANCE was held accountable for the Los Angeles Rampart scandal. Only a couple of grunts received minor punishments. Most charges were quietly dismissed. As a reference:
http://www.laweekly.com/ink/printme.php?eid=40403
and
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/lapd/later/outcome.html
LAPD continues to be one of the least looked after and unaccountable police forces in the country.

Lovely.

Sherri about Tulia, a topic I omitted from my column because it’s so extreme. I chose to focus on the incredibly common phenomenon of prevaricating policemen:

I agree with you about problems with the police. Yes, I am a generally a big supporter of law and order, but I think recent, serious cases of police misconduct point to a need for renewed vigilance by good people in communities throughout the country.
I am also surprised you didn’t mention the false drug arrests in Tulia and Dallas, Texas.
First, there was the infamous Tulia sting of 1997 where a large number of the town’s black population were rounded up and arrested in an early morning raid that netted ZERO drugs and ZERO evidence of drug dealing. Yet, incredibly, on the testimony of an undercover officer with no corroborating evidence like written notes or surveillance tapes, a Tulia jury found many guilty and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms. It was only overturned after a concerted grassroots effort forced the hand of the Lieutenant Governor – and that was after four years in jail for some! A subsequent inquiry found the undercover officer to be untrustworthy and charges were eventually dismissed against the defendants. Essentially, this undercover officer fabricated evidence to justify his job. And a racist town like Tulia was only too willing to help.
Second, Dallas is still reeling from false drug charges made a couple of years ago against another minority group, Mexican immigrants. Incredibly, drug specimens offered as evidence turned out to be a harmless substance. It was all a scam with many officers sacrificing the reputations and livelihoods of innocent men — not to mention their personal integrity — to fatten their arrest records.
I don’t have all the fact at my fingertips, but suffice to say, Texas has had some glaring example of police misconduct. The guy involved with the Tulia sting, Tom Coleman, was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 1997. And even though he eventually fell from grace, I don’t think this award has ever been publicly retracted.

Dan writes:

Simply a superb article on cops lying. What is so invidious about this issue is how cops’ testimony is weighed in court. Judges give more credence to the testimony of cops than they do other witnesses, and especially more compared to the testimony of defendants. ‘scuse me, but I could have sworn the reason we have a judicial branch is to provide the citizenry some buffer from the executive branch. All too often, judges see cops routinely in their courtrooms and so become buddies with them. This makes it awkward to reprimand them or call them liars or anything else. What can we as the citizenry do? Cops have a vested interest in seeing people convicted. They think of themselves as the good guys and the rest of us as either bad guys or potentially bad guys.
In there somewhere, there has to be a mention of the IQ of cops, which is not high on average. What happens when a cop stops someone more intelligent than them? They get all self-conscious and go into their power trip – evidence your examples of jaywalking and speeding. They’ll lie so fast and so often that it becomes routine.

All sad. All true.

John Bolton

Lucas asks:

Why haven’t you stated your opinion (or danced around this issue like in your eminent domain article 😉 just kiddin) on the whole Bolton for UN Ambassador deal? Unimportant? There’s gotta be something to say on this topic!

I did at least one cartoon about the Bush Administration’s habit of appointing extremely unsuitable candidates for sensitive posts and kind of figured that Bolton was covered by it. Also, I’m not sure whether it’s that big a deal that we’re sending an asshole to insult the UN. After all, US policy has long been so unilateralist that even the most diplomatic choice wouldn’t be able to make friends abroad.

But while we’re here: Bolton is not only an appalling choice for UN ambassador, he is clearly in inferior intellect who should never have been elevated to any position of responsibility in government or business. The man is a fucking moron who holds opinions that collapse upon the slightest rapid-fire inspection. The fact that he is a mean moron merely adds to the lunacy.

April 20, 2005

Sad News for the World’s Catholics

Growing up in a predominantly Republican Ohio suburb during the 1970s, one respite from the constant onslaught of capital-C conservatism on the political scene and small-c conservatism in local culture was the church. I served mass for priests who believed–nay, knew–that Christ had enjoined them to defend the poor and weak against the wealthy and powerful. The bourgeous faithful might spend their weeks fucking over their employees and cast reprehensible votes for evil curs like Ronald Reagan, but on Sunday they had to sit in their pews and suck up the sweet truth that their lives were totally incompatible with the basic tenets of their supposed faith.

That activism took a beating under Pope John Paul II, although like so many US Supreme Court justices who start out as conservatives and move to the left, his experience dealing with the real world transformed him towards his eminently progressive “culture of life” during the late 1990s.

Now they’ve elected a Nazi pope.

OK, an ex-Nazi pope.

Yeah, yeah, I know–they forced him to man that anti-aircraft gun. Like they didn’t all say that.

Dubious wartime past aside, Benedict XVI’s present is nothing short of horrifying. All Catholics worthy of their faith, and men and women of good conscience, mourn. But look at the bright side: the Catholic Church has survived the Inquisition. It will survive Pontificus Maximumus Bushus I.

April 16, 2005

Sorry for the Delay

It’s a big secret and stuff, but not really. I’ve been working on a new book about Central Asia. Writing books takes a lot of time, which—along with technical issues associated with the website—have cut into my blogging time. Anyway, I’m back for a while. Unless I’m not.

When Cartoonists Fuck Up

Just noticed that today’s four-panel cartoon depicts Dick Cheney with post-drinkathon five o’clock shadow in all but the third panel. Yeah, that makes sense. I can’t figure out what’s worse: my mistake, or the fact that some people won’t notice.

Abstinence Only

After years of having sex, I’ve decided that it’s time for other people to not have sex ever. Toward that laudable end, you should check out Scarlet P.’s Abstinence Only site at http://www.abstinenceonly.com. And remember: don’t have sex. Ever.

George Orwell, Call Your Office: U.S. Army Refuses to Release Pat Tillman Info

If there’s a better lede paragraph than this one, I don’t know what it is:

The military has completed an investigation into former NFL star Pat Tillman’s death in Afghanistan that aimed to address concerns raised about whether the Army held back information, but its findings won’t be made public.

More details at http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2037637

Feedback on the Media Labeling Column

Steve writes:

Excellent column. Who could forget “Panamanian Strongman Manuel Noriega”. Words kill and cover up. By the way, I’ve always thought of those who challenge orthodoxy as patriotic..

As have I, as have I.

Niall et al. Write:

Thank you for speaking out. The media labels article was brilliant and as always very encouraging. We live in a very white bread place called Boise Idaho because we have two little kids to think of. We want you to know via this email that we know you are one of the very few real heroes of this awful retro dark ages time. I wish people would consider 1930’s Germany and then reflect upon our own times. It’s scary now.

Stop rolling your eyes. We may not have death camps (yet), but we already have the concentration camps and mass detentions, not to mention government-sanctioned torture and murder of prisoners. In any case, the idea isn’t to wait and see whether the current political climate eventually morphs into fascism but rather to take (ahem) preemptive action to prevent it from doing so. Too many conservatives argue that that the mere fact that fascism hasn’t taken hold in America is proof that we’re not heading in that direction. I suspect that too many of them just don’t want the rest of us to pay attention, since fascism is the highest form of conservativism.

Matt writes:

I was surprised by your latest opinion column, regarding the labels that journalists place on groups or individuals. I agree with your central tenant — that the media can shape a supposedly neutral news article by their descriptions of the parties. However, I believe a lot of conservatives agree with that, as it is one of the various complaints against what many see as the liberal bias of the media. Many conservatives see conservative politicians or groups described as such, while their liberal counterparts are desribed less frequently. Tom Delay is a conservative congressman, Nancy Pelosi is House Minority Leader.

Frankly, I watch a lot of news and I don’t see examples like the DeLay/Pelosi comparison. But to the extent that they occur, they should not.

Likewise, groups when defending conservative views are often described as conservative, but when those same groups are arguing for a “liberal” position, the groups are called public-advocate or such neutral term. I am not inventing this, I have read studies and seen evidence with my own two eyes. Similarly, as you
wrote, descriptions of international groups are shaped by the journalists perception. Take Hamas, I call them terrorists. The AP may call them gunmen. The Arab press may call them freedom fighters. Obviously, it would be nice and decent if everyone called them terrorists, but it is confusing how you would like to enforce that.

Not to me. I would refer to Hamas as “the group Hamas said…” and let what they did and/or said speak for themselves. Would it have been necessary, in 1942, to say “totalitarian dictator Adolf Hitler said…”? Less is more when it comes to labels.

Even within this country, language represents a viewpoint. The NYT calls Likud party in Israel the “right” party, while Labor is “left-centrist”. That is ridiculous. Within the voters of Israel, Likud currently represents the the dominant party. It is only in the eyes of the NYT reporters that it is a “right” party, as defined by what the reporters consider what the middle SHOULD be.

I don’t agree with the Times’ labels for the two parties, but this is a lousy example. A quick look at policies and politicians pertaining to each party does seem to agree with the Times. Likud is hard-right; Labor isn’t hard-left. The fact that Likud is “dominant” doesn’t change the extreme nature of its ideology any more than the fact that the Nazi Party was dominant in 1930s Germany softened or moderated its ideology.

[…]As for descriptions of you, controversial seems fairly neutral — nobody can argue that you are controversial. Can they? But patriotic, you’d have a lot of people disagreeing with that. Plus, I’d gather you are the subject of more opinion than news.

Well, you probably couldn’t argue with the subjective description of as “cute,” either. But does it really add anything to the discussion to call me “cute cartoonist Ted Rall”?

Okay, onto a pet-peeve. Your use of the term “neo” incorrectly. Everything is “neo” for you. I am a neo-fascist. Neo-McCarthyite. Neo-everything, why — because I proudly voted for President Bush. It is lazy writing. First of all, the defining characteristic of McCarthyism was seeing communism everywhere (I was taught they were paranoid, although with the KGB files opened, perhaps less than we thought). Now, who does that describe today – IMO, the American left, with their theories of voter fraud, neo-cons, war, 9-11, the superhuman powers of Karl Rove, Israel, Haliburten. And as for neo-fascist, shame, shame, shame. Yes, we are fascist because of the Patriot Act, which passed like 99-0 in the Senate, including the vote of the candidate you voted for President. I am shaking and have a suitcase hidden under my bed for when I have to move. Seriously, do you go to a diner for breakfast and request neo-pancakes with neo-syrup with a glass of neo-milk.
Anyway, I am being scarcastic, but since I’ve been called a fascist, it seems fair 🙂

The “neo” prefix refers to revivals of a term from the past to apply to the present. I refer to Bush & Co. as neofascists because they’re reviving characteristics of traditional old-school fascism with a 21st century twist. They’re not really fascists in the 1930s sense; for one thing, they have no aesthetic sense or panache. But there are enough similarities that the comparison should be made. I’ll agree that it can get old, but until someone suggests a better term I’m sticking with it.

As for paranoia among the left, if you dig a little deeper you’ll see that Halliburton really has exercised an outsized influence on this White House, that Karl Rove really is a spectacularly intelligent guy, that the Republicans really did steal Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 using techniques that were seriously over-the-top. You’re entitled to be blissfully unaware if you want, but don’t expect to get credit for being intelligent from those of us who pay attention.

Tom writes:

Just finished subject column (via Info Clearinghouse) & thanks. How about the “Liberal” & “Conservative” labels, and their connotations, that have plagued our national discourse for decades:
Liberal: Free-spending, intemperate & immoral, free-loving, long-haired/dirty-clothed hippie, welfare culture, irresponsible, tree-hugging, etc. = Democrats
Conservative: Careful, serious, concerned, well-groomed & dressed, responsible & moral, etc. = Republicans
Is there any way out of this?

Probably, but it involves more unity than Democrats are typically capable of. After all, today’s “liberals” typically are deficit hawks, conservative on foreign adventurism and want the government out of our personal lives—traditional platform planks of conservatives. And today’s “conservatives” are interventionist, fans of huge government, big deficit spenders. The labels are stupid, and don’t even mean what they mean.

Jim writes:

I’ve enjoyed your cartoons tremendously. Even when I don’t agree with them, they are sincere and don’t pander (unlike *cough* that mallard cartoon).
This is in regard to your latest article about media labels.
I live in Huntsville, Alabama where a few weeks ago, Eric Rudolph was here for a, I’m not sure, but not an actual trial, because what
I was paying attention to, was that no one here called this man, who bombed abortion clinics in Birmingham, found guilty of the Atlanta bombing, a terrorist. Terrorism is a technique. One this man employed. I wish I could say the news stories would have been the same if he’d been Arab-American, but I’m afraid not. Instead they called him an “anti-abortion activist” and a “suspected bomber”
Disgusted with the mainstream media,

Nothing to add here.

April 11, 2005

REPOST: Big Editorial Cartooning Panel in New York City MONDAY NIGHT

Join brilliant editorial cartoonists Ruben Bolling (“Tom the Dancing Bug,” ATTITUDE 1), Steve Brodner, Jeff Danziger, David Rees (“Get Your War On”), Andy Singer (“No Exit”, ATTITUDE 1) and yours truly Monday night, April 11, 2005, at 6:30 pm sharp for a panel discussion about what makes a good editorial cartoon and, naturally, what makes a bad one.

Part of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s “MoCCA Mondays” series, the editorial cartooning panel features some of the most innovative and hard-hitting voices in political art working today. You can find all the details on
MoCCA’s website. Location is: MoCCA, 594 Broadway between Houston and Prince Streets in Manhattan. See you there!

April 9, 2005

Tech Issues

The column is finally online. My apologies for the delay, and thanks to everyone who wrote to let me know about the problems.

Is the Pope Liberal in the Woods?

TP from Saint Louis points out:

I enjoy reading your columns, and always find your writing to be very insightful; however, I must respectfully disagree with you on this most recent column.

Your claims, “Except for Abortion, The Pope Was a Liberal,” and “If John Paul II were an American politician, however, he would be considered a left-winger,” ignore one important aspect of modern American liberalism: tolerance of homosexuality.

It’s true that the majority of the Pope’s positions on issues such as poverty, violence, education and health appear to be similar to those of people on the American left; however, his statement that homosexuality is part of the “culture of death” must not be ignored.

As for Bush and other Republicans co-opting the phrase, “culture of life,” it’s been suggested (during a blog discussion between others and myself on Americablog) that we on the American left should claim the “culture of living” — making the distinction that Democrats, unlike Republicans, are concerned with how a person actually lives and what opportunities they have between conception and death.

Of course TP is correct. The pope was conservative concerning homosexuality, which is damned unfortunate. The great strength of Catholicism has been its ability to adapt to changing times and mores, albeit a few centuries late, and I’d like to think that the church will ultimately come to the conclusion that what two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their own fucking business (pun intended) and in no way, shape, or form affects whether or not they are good people or sinners. We’ll also have women and married priests someday. In the meantime, however, we have to put up with stupidity.

Chris says:

Regarding this week’s column and related blog entries — I viewed the death of this pope in the same way that view the deaths of Reagan and Nixon, i.e., one less asshole on the planet. While I see your point in juxtaposing John Paul’s “culture of life” with W’s, I take offense to the characterization that the pope was “one of us.” This is a man that heads an organization that takes money from the poorest of the poor (especially in heavily-Catholic Central and South America) so that he can live in an opulence usually reserved for thuggish dictators like Saddam, then uses the power gained from this fleecing of the poor to preach the “immorality” of condoms to AIDS-ravaged Africa.

Chris’ is a valid point of view and not one that I question entirely. However, I do admire people who attempt to adhere to a consistent point of values and who are willing to change their minds when convinced via the strength of argument that they are mistaken. The Pope, unlike Ronald Reagan, did work at hard at trying to get it right, even if many of us believe that he ultimately failed. Hey, even Christ said he was a sinner.

And now a question:

Recently, a third report on 9/11 and the Iraq war was released, again blaming (for the most part) the CIA for it’s “intelligence failures.” Yet, I recall, prior to the war, lecturing the pro-war folks that I know on the fact that the CIA was saying that Saddam probably didn’t have WMD and if he did, he was highly unlikely to use them in any way that could affect the US. So why is the CIA sitting on their hands and not defending itself when these reports come out? Why did Tenet agree to take so much of the blame? I can see why the “independent” people that wrote the reports don’t go further to implicate the administration, but I just don’t understand why the CIA is willing to be Cheney’s whipping boy.

Short answer: They’re not. Many intelligence professionals are furious, livid, pissed, you name it, to be blamed for the Bush Administration’s decision to go into a losing war in Iraq. The CIA was the one agency that consistently told anyone who would listen that there was no proof after 1998 that Saddam had WMDs and that even the 1998 proof was pretty weak. But that’s exactly the point: no one WOULD listen. The Bushies decided way before they stole the 2000 election that they were going to invade Iraq (and probably Afghanistan). The decision to go to war never hinged on WMDs. WMDs were merely an excuse to sell the war because the American people generally don’t go to war unless they’ve been convinced that they’re threatened (see Tonkin Gulf, etc.)

Let’s turn this on its head: Had Bush known with 100% certainty that Iraq had WMDs and was threatening to use them against the United States, he would NOT have attacked Iraq unless there were good geopolitical and economic reasons for doing so. Sound crazy? That’s exactly the situation right now, with North Korea. And yet: no war.

Remember: the Iraq war never had anything to do with WMDs, so WMD intelligence is nothing but a distraction.

Anyway, keep up the good work — aside from that lapse of judgement regarding the pope’s character, I do enjoy all your stuff. 🙂

Jamie writes:

Thank you. As a Catholic who is politically very liberal, I would like to applaud you for your column “The Right and the Culture of Life.” I am driven crazy by writers on both sides who claim that Republican is synonymous with Christian, particularly Ann Coulter. I am also irked that Republicans are trying to claim him and that George Bush attended his funeral. I am relieved and encouraged to finally see a secular leftist acknowledge that Christianity and the GOP do not agree.

I was raised Catholic, served mass, the whole nine yards. And much of my liberalism came from priests preaching in my ultra-Republican community. One side note, though: many, many Protestants do not consider Catholics “Christian.” I only became aware of this phenomenon recently, but it’s fairly widespread among many right-wing non-Catholic Christians to separate Catholics as something else. Of course, as I like to point out, Protestants are the rip-off spin-offs of Catholicism, and Catholics have the original claim on Christianity. And when that doesn’t work with these morons, I ask them if they’ve ever visited a Catholic church. What are all those crosses doing up on the wall and over the roof if Catholics aren’t, um, Christian?

Anyway, Catholics who play with right-wingers are sell-outs. Conservatives would load them all on cattle cars if and when they get the chance.

April 6, 2005

Big Editorial Cartooning Panel in New York City

Join brilliant editorial cartoonists Ruben Bolling (“Tom the Dancing Bug,” ATTITUDE 1), Steve Brodner, Jeff Danziger, David Rees (“Get Your War On”), Andy Singer (“No Exit”, ATTITUDE 1) and yours truly this coming Monday night, April 11, 2005, at 6:30 pm sharp for a panel discussion about what makes a good editorial cartoon and, naturally, what makes a bad one.

Part of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s “MoCCA Mondays” series, the editorial cartooning panel features some of the most innovative and hard-hitting voices in political art working today. You can find all the details on
MoCCA’s website. Location is: MoCCA, 594 Broadway between Houston and Prince Streets in Manhattan. See you there!

April 4, 2005

If Terri Schiavo Was Iraqi

Last week’s single-panel cartoon positing the fate of Terri Schiavo had she been an Iraqi hospital patient—bombed by an American fighter jet, as so many Iraqi hospitals were both during the constant bombing sorties conducted during the Bush 41 and Clinton Administrations and, of course, during the U.S. invasion of 2003 and subsequent occupation, has drawn attention. Part of the attention came from grammarians, who (correctly) point out that the correct usage requires “were” rather than “was” in the title. I knew that. I went with “was” because (a) it’s colloquial and colloquial usage is preferred in cartoons and (b) I drew it a day or two before she died and knew she would likely be in the past tense by the time it appeared.

There’s also an op-ed by John W. Payne on Lew Rockwell’s website using my cartoon as a lede. Editorial cartoonists are always gratified when a print journalist gives us credit by name for inspiring an article. It’s also nice when they say who drew a cartoon—as opposed to the New York Times’ frequent “a New Yorker cartoon shows a cat talking to a dog…” Memo to the Times: magazines don’t make cartoons, cartoonists do. You wouldn’t write “a Warner Brothers song refers to boys who will be girls and girls who will be boys,” would you? You’d credit the Kinks who sang and wrote that song. So why would you treat cartoonists any differently? Similarly, many journalists pick up on ideas they see in cartoons and, “assuming” that they aren’t required to cite their source, simply do the story without citation. Of course, they couldn’t/wouldn’t do that to a fellow scribe. But they look down on cartooning—this despite the fact that it’s a damned sight harder to draw good cartoons than it is to write well (something I know from experience).

So thanks, Mr. Payne!

Here’s the opening graph, by the way, of his piece:

One of controversial cartoonist Ted Rall’s most recent pieces is captioned “If Terri Schiavo Was Iraqi.” The image is that of a hospital bombed by an American jet moments earlier, the message being that no one in America cares what happens to Iraqi citizens, and, sadly, Rall seems to be largely correct. Over the past few weeks, the media has sustained itself by consuming nothing but Terri Schiavo, and while her death is tragic, the massive coverage lavished upon it eclipses the fact that deadly firefights and car bombs are still fairly common events in Iraq. When the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet published an article in late October 2004 finding that at least 100,000 Iraqis have been killed because of the invasion and subsequent occupation of their country (the study excepted Fallujah because it was impossible to make any reliable estimate about the deaths in that city, so obviously the number is actually much higher), the story was on the news…for one night. So, to recap, the thirteen-day death of one woman who most doctors ruled brain dead was practically broadcast minute by minute on twenty-four hour news networks and then usually loudly argued about by two equally asinine individuals, while the news that the United States government probably killed well over 100,000 people in a year and a half received a perfunctory two-minute mention one night and then faded from view.

Now They’re Attacking Me For What I Might Do

Thoughtcrime has triumphed. Kudos to high-ranking FOR Tom for sending this little gem from neofascist David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine blog site:

Undoubtedly, leftist cartoonist Ted Rall is somewhere, dreaming up a way to gain TV time by spitting on the Pope’s corpse. It is no wonder this Pontiff spent so much of his pontificate castigating the world’s “culture of death.”

So what, if anything, am I going to do about the Pope’s passing? We’ll have to wait and see what the old muse coughs up. What is hilarious beyond belief, however, is to watch the right wing’s attempts to co-opt Catholicism’s strict interpretation of favoring life whenever in doubt, most recently on display in Sean Hannity’s tent in front of Terri Schiavo’s hospice in Florida.

The current Catechism interprets its assault on the culture of death regarding a variety of morally tinged political issues: capital punishment, war, abortion, euthanasia, birth control, etc. Only on one of these issues, abortion, do Republicans agree with the recently departed Pope John Paul II: abortion. Both are against it, although for different reasons: the Republicans are mainly against poor people being able to get them because they’re all sluts who deserve whatever they get anyway. The pope believed that life begins at conception and therefore fetuses require our protection. It’s a respectable position, one that I disagree with but respect nevertheless as perfectly valid and legitimate.

Republicans would never ban birth control because it would be political suicide. So much for principles!

Catholics recognize that it may be necessary to fight a war, but only in self-defense. Neoconservative “preemption” doctrine is anathema to the Vatican, something the pope told Bush when the Evil One had the gall to drop by during the run-up to his invasion of Iraq. (Where are those lightening bolts when you expect them most?) And Pope John Paul II personally eliminated the exception that permitted capital punishment in some cases from canon law.

If you’re truly a Catholic in good standing, you oppose abortion as well as war and the death penalty. This means that you can be neither a Democrat nor a Republican. If you have to compromise, the Democratic Party is closer—much closer, on bigger issues—than the Republicans.

So let me the first to say this: this pope was conservative in many respects. He never should have silenced the liberation theologists who tried to bring back the church to Jesus’ original message of economic and political justice and equality. Nor should he have stood in the way of permitting women priests or ending celibacy; neither have any basis in scripture and are merely relics of medieval tradition.

On the sliding scale of American politics, however, he was one of us: a leftist who sided with the poor and disadvantaged over the rich and powerful almost every time. So get your stinking blood-soaked hands off our pope, right-wing mass murderers and apologists (i.e., anyone who voted for Bush).