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CSotD: Guilty, and the reactions

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity, and Bruce Plante scores with a cartoon that tells the story and thereby sets the scene for today.

The verdict came in so late in the day that it likely sent cartoonists scrambling to their drawing boards, though it’s common, on the eve of an election or a major sporting event, for a cartoonist to sketch out one cartoon for either possible outcome.

Still, guilty on all three counts is different than guilty of this but not that, so it wasn’t a strictly binary situation. You’d have to also be prepared for a half-empty/half-full outcome.

But the result was certainly a lot more fun to draw than the closely-watched moment a quarter century ago, when a Simi Valley jury agreed that, at best, there was reasonable doubt as to who murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

That verdict came at lunchtime on the East Coast and so even earlier on the West, giving cartoonists plenty of time to contemplate the jaw-dropper.

 

Jim Morin responded with fury.

 

Steve Sack seemed more cynical than angry.

 

And Gary Varvel took a philosophical, long-term view.

But, while race was front-and-center in the Simpson case, it wasn’t what drove it, at least until the verdict came in. There was a lackluster prosecution, some sloppy police work, a clever defense team and a jury that only took four hours to agree on their doubt, reasonable or otherwise.

No lackluster prosecution or clever defense this time around, but those of us who remember OJ still held our collective breath until the verdicts were read.

 

It triggered a flood of “Black Lives Matter” and “I can breathe” cartoons, worthy but predictable.

John Branch (KFS), however, tied that BLM theme to the individual whose life, and death, were not only important to friends and family but now stand as a symbol of what can happen when a community stands up and the system responds.

Two style points: Branch, drawing for the Houston Chronicle, depicts Floyd in the uniform he wore playing for Yates High School there, and he keeps that slogan in the present tense: Not that Floyd’s life mattered, but that it still does.

Nice touches.

Ann Telnaes offers this insight into the changing world of justice on the street, and there are several things I admire in this cartoon.

The sparse color allows her to both emphasize Floyd’s race and to depict Justice as an eternal concept with the green patina of a monument. Justice is normally shown blindfolded to indicate her neutrality, but Telnaes doesn’t show her face, whether blindfolded or open-eyed.

Instead, she shows Justice using a cell phone to even the odds, suggesting that she is still blindfolded in terms of fairness but no longer blind in having to accept one person’s word over that of another.

I would add, almost parenthetically, that we’re seeing the pendulum of unfairness swing in the other direction: Social media now features short little Tik Tok videos with no context, edited to depict police at their worst possible moments.

The courts will have to figure out how to handle such dubious evidence, but it’s one more thing, like fingerprints a century ago, like DNA in the past few decades, that is changing the game.

And then there’s this: If people standing around fail to whip out their cell phones, we still have security cameras set up to record everything.

Now we just need to enforce requirements for police to keep their body cams running, which brings up that old conservative trope about how you shouldn’t fear being observed if you’re not doing anything wrong.

Sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander.

 

Kevin Necessary (AMS) brings in Justice for a point several other commentators have made, and it’s one that you can’t disagree with but that seems to deny, or at least downplay, the importance of the moment.

To use a sports analogy, when a team that has fallen one game shy season after season finally wins a championship, it’s time to celebrate, not to remind everyone of the field goal that went wide last year, the pass that was dropped the year before that and the time the coach failed to call a time out when he should have.

Yes, there is more work to do, and maybe Bruce Plante’s cartoon should have shown Justice peeking through a small hole, not walking through the gap like that.

But it’s like the old joke in which a child is saved from drowning and his mother complains to the rescuer, “He was wearing a hat.”

Let us celebrate for a little while. Injustice isn’t going anywhere.

 

In fact, Andy Marlette (Creators) addresses a related but separate and immediate injustice in Florida, where Gov. DeSantis has signed a law that allows police to sweep into any protest that turns violent and randomly arrest anyone there, regardless of their actions.

Which is to say that if 500 people are chanting, and three of them throw rocks, the other 497 are liable to be arrested, convicted and stripped of their rights to vote.

It also allows the state government to override any local community’s attempt to lower funding of police, presumably to keep the emphasis on enforcement rather than on counseling or community outreach.

After all, why buy guns and truncheons at all if you’re not going to get to use them?

And there’s this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Clay Jones)

(Michael De Adder)

Jones addresses the rightwing outcry over Maxine Waters’ remarks, which sparked a suspiciously large number of “gasoline on the fire” cartoons, which is hardly as predictable as everyone piling on BLM and “I can’t breathe.”

Kinda makes you wonder who blows the dog whistle now that Rush is gone. Tucker, maybe? Pillow dude?

Meanwhile, as he and De Adder both point out, they weren’t nearly so upset when it was their team calling not for protests and pressure but for actual violence and insurrection.

Never mind.

Let’s celebrate the victory we have won. Tomorrow, we’ll put on those comfortable shoes and pick up those clipboards.

No worries — We still know how to use them.

 

Community Comments

#1 Mike Rhode
April/21/2021
@ 12:50 pm

The Wash Post published the Telnaes drawing today in b&w, at a smallish size, making it hard to read.

#2 Mike Peterson
April/21/2021
@ 1:53 pm

Too bad. While she’s mainly an on-line commentator, they’ve done some nice work reproducing her stuff in print. Of course, everyone was on tight deadlines for this one, so it may have been a last minute “Wow” on their part and a hole that was already sized.

#3 Ted Tegenkamp
April/21/2021
@ 3:08 pm

I look forward to reading your posts every day. Thank you for doing it. They are excellent.

One small correction: a Los Angeles jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty. A Simi Valley jury found the police officers accused in the Rodney King beating not guilty.

Thanks again!

#4 Mike Peterson
April/22/2021
@ 12:16 am

Ah, you’re right. Correction to be made. Thanks!

(Interesting analysis: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1995/10/08/it-wasnt-the-jurors-fault/ff59a7f7-fd60-4ce7-a409-37174660e4f5/

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