Comic Relief

As I’m sure you know by now, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau is doing a series on Texas’ ultrasound law that some papers are choosing not to run; others are moving the strip temporarily to their opinion pages (which, of course, is where some papers run it regularly). The reproductive rights site RH Reality Check has been keeping a runnng tab on the papers (eighteen so far, with the LA Times being the most prominent) banning or censoring Doonesbury, and is providing simple ways to post the offending panels to those publications’ Facebook walls or comment threads.

I have to admit I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading Doonesbury (probably about the time I got out of the habit of reading print newspapers), and have forgotten how scathing the strip can be. Its depiction of the “Shaming Room” Texas women seeking an entirely legal abortion must endure is an excellent and simple conveyance of the state law’s basic intent. Since graphic representations of sometimes complex realities has always been the basic function (other than simple entertainment) of cartoons, I think it’s a perfectly valid preoccupation for Trudeau. If a few newspaper readers have to explain to their kids–or even to themselves–why Texas lawmakers are behaving this way, it might well be a good thing.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.