CSotD: Villains and heroes

I noted the other day that the opening of the impeachment trial, and particularly the lackluster nature of Trump’s defense, didn’t seem to spark much fury in Ann Telnaes (WashPo)‘s trial coverage.

But it sure didn’t stay that way, and her growing portfolio is fine stuff indeed.

We’ll see her again, because there’s a second critical topic to discuss today, and she was smack in the middle of that, too.

Meanwhile, the prosecution’s careful presentation, and the GOP’s continuing failure to give a damn, have sparked a lot of good takes from cartoonists.

Clay Bennett (CTFP) focuses on a point carefully made by prosecutors, which is the manner in which Trump introduced the Big Lie of election fraud months before anyone voted, so that he could declare victory whether he won or lost.

“The only way we can lose is if they cheat” set things up, because his followers were then prepared to not accept a Biden victory.

He also adopted the Third Reich’s concept of Lugenpresse — the lying press — and declared the media “the enemy of the people” so that his followers would distrust whatever was reported except on approved media.

Goebbels would be proud.

Michael de Adder points out that the Republicans are making an active effort to not know what happened, despite, as that headline says, the overwhelming evidence.

And Signe Wilkinson (AMS) poses a question that I was asking at home, which was how anyone could see the repeated heroism of Officer Goodman in saving lives that day and not side with him and the nearly 140 officers injured by the mob.

Well, Blue Lives Matter when it’s time for speechifying, but My Job Matters when it’s time to vote, and the same people who were appalled that Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem have no problem with people using the American flag to smash windows and assault law officers.


Jeff Danziger (WPWG) notes that the GOP members of the jury don’t need any evidence, and not only did they make up their minds before the trial began, but now it develops that they’ve met with Trump’s defense team, apparently to polish the presentation to come.


Kevin Siers (N&O) explains the GOP jurors with a reference to the hapless attorney who accidentally activated a cat filter during a hearing.

But as he notes, it’s no filter: They really are chickens, afraid of what the Deplorables will think if they vote on the evidence instead of for acquittal.

Which brings us back to Kap, whose demonstrations against police brutality cost him his job, since no NFL team will hire the outspoken quarterback.

But Kap, who had already made millions anyway, decided his principles mattered more than additional money, and more than the game he loved.

Most GOP Senators could accept defeat in their next election and still live comfortably, if their oath before God to uphold and defend the Constitution mattered more than the opportunity to cling to power and accumulate more money from wealthy supporters.


As Kal Kallaugher says, this trial matters, if not for now, for our future.

To which I would add that at least the Confederates had the class and dignity to get up and secede, rather than to hang around violating their oath and subverting the Constitution.


The Death of a Contemptible Hero

Clay Jones pays tribute to Larry Flynt, the pornographer publisher of Hustler magazine, who died the other day.

It’s funny, because most cartoonists only do Pearly Gates pieces since editors love them, and I don’t think a lot of newspapers will want to give Flynt any space.

But he is a hero to cartoonists and to all who value a free press, and, if the GOP is determined to undermine the Constitution, a strong and vital free press will be critical to resisting their efforts.

In 1988, Hustler Magazine v Falwell firmly established the right of humorists to insult the rich and powerful, with a 9-0 decision in favor of a despicable, nasty, filthy man, which factor makes it clear that pushing the envelope to the very edge and perhaps beyond is part of our First Amendment protection.


On the 30th anniversary of the decision, the AAEC and the University of Minnesota partnered for a two-day symposium to discuss the case and to examine the role of satire and cartooning in politics.

That link is worth following, and among the wonders there is this link to media coverage, which not only includes AAEC and Fantagraphics coverage plus C-SPAN videos of presentations, but my own four blog entries. Such a deal!

It was a valuable program and a delightful gathering of editorial cartoonists and fans of the medium.

At one point, my son asked me, “Are we the only people here who haven’t won a Pulitzer?” He was joking, but it was that powerful a gathering.

The case revolved around a Hustler parody of a Campari ad campaign that featured nod-nod-wink-wink “confessions” that turned out to be not the First Time I Had Sex but The First Time I Had Campari.



Flynt’s parody featured Moral Majority Blowhard Jerry Falwell:

For some reason, this offended Jerry, who sued Flynt in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the Chief Justice was noted conservative William Rehnquist.

And where Falwell got an unpleasant surprise, as seen in this yearbook entry for that future chief justice:


Yes, His Honor had, in his youth, been an inveterate cartoonist, and, while he might have upheld the First Amendment anyway, in this case, he brought an encyclopedic knowledge of the medium and its purposes to his ponderings.


The whole thing brought out the fury in Ann Telnaes, one of the program’s organizers, who promptly grabbed a table in the lobby, laid out her tools and — despite bloggers fluttering around her as she worked — produced her own variation on the piece.

To which I would add that, if you do check out my coverage of the event — four entries, starting here — you’ll find an enormous number of cartoons as well as what was said.


Including this Pat Oliphant piece, which sums up the way cartoonists held their noses throughout the necessary partnership.

As for where we stand now, I’d encourage you to read Clay Jones’ remarks on his own experience fighting internal censorship. It’s as good a street-level rundown on the battle as you’ll ever find.

And I’ll leave you with this nugget from my coverage, which ties it all into the current impeachment trial and why cartoonists must carry on after Trump is acquitted:

(P)ulling Dear Leader’s nose is not simply fun. It’s a way of reminding each other that he’s just one of us despite his bluster, and that one of the best days of childhood came when some daring classmate pantsed the schoolyard bully and made him cry.


4 thoughts on “CSotD: Villains and heroes

  1. As for where we stand now, I’d encourage you to read Clay Jones’ remarks on his own experience fighting internal censorship. It’s as good a street-level rundown on the battle as you’ll ever find.

  2. You say “Hustler vs Falwell” was decided for “a nasty despicable man” and I had to read further to remember which one it was.

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