CSotD: Free Speech Follies

I’m not sure how to comment on this Michael Ramirez (Creators) cartoon, though I lived near the US Air Force Academy and toured the mews with their falcon trainers.

Apparently the Twitter falcon hunts media and the falconer carries around a package of politics. I have no idea what he’s saying, though I do know that the Air Force Academy falcons are only trained to fly to the lure, not to actually hunt.

I’ll bet that isn’t the point here.


Ramirez has been on a Free Speech tear this week, and it’s easier to analyze this example, which is a purist First Amendment take, though advocating pure free speech is easy in theory and tough in practice, as Elon Musk has been discovering.

He proudly reinstated Kanye West, and then re-banned him when the level of hate speech exceeded even Musk’s tolerance. So it’s “Free Speech Within Limits.”



As Kal Kallaugher (Counterpoint) points out, Musk has been re-admitting some astonishingly blatant hatemongers to Twitter, including Andrew Anglin, head of the Daily Stormer, a notorious neo-Nazi who not only preaches a racist, anti-Semitic line but has actively harassed people who challenge his views.

BTW, if Anglin wants a blue checkmark, Musk should get the money up front: Last month a judge ordered Anglin’s arrest, since he has gone underground and refused to pay the damages awarded to the victim of his harassment campaign.

Meanwhile, the Champion of Free Speech appears to be picking and choosing who gets to have their ideas aired in the free marketplace, apparently suppressing liberal voices, including deplatforming some at the request of rightwing users.


And while I hesitate to pile on the same cartoonist this often in a single post, these have been three of his last four cartoons, delivered once a day, which suggests some piling on of his own.

As with the falconry piece, his message is unclear and I don’t know whether to agree or not. The government, he suggests, is burning the Constitution over the case of 303 Creative v Elenis, which SCOTUS has not yet ruled on, having just heard oral arguments this week.

It is purportedly a case in which a deeply Christian web designer does not want to have to design websites for same-sex marriages, though, as this Salon report indicates, the first question should be “Who asked you?”

The aggrieved designer has not only never been asked to design such a website but never indicated a religious preference until she was recruited by an anti-gay activist group eager to launch a lawsuit.

Associate Justice Cornholito found the issue a cause for humor, and dismissed bias issues with jokes, the Court having been reduced to proposing hypothetical cases, since the complainants could not cite an actual one.

However the Court decides, the First Amendment is likely to take a beating, and I wish Lester Maddox were still alive so he could explain his deep, personal beliefs about serving black customers at the Pickrick Restaurant. 

Now, you might say a fried chicken restaurant is different because websites are artistic, but I am given to believe that ol’ Lester served up some mighty fine chicken, and who are we to place culinary arts below web design?

Not only did the good people of Georgia contribute to his defense, but elected him to serve as their governor.

Of course, that was then, and this is now, and things have changed.

Yesterday, only 49 percent of Georgians voted against Martin Luther King Jr.’s successor.

Vox populi, vox dei, as Elon is fond of saying.


Elsewhere in the World

Andy Davey notes the rising discontent in Russia as the death toll mounts and Putin’s military adventurism fails. As noted here before, the hardy Russian ability to bear sacrifice was different when Napoleon and Hitler were invading their country; it doesn’t seem as rock solid when there’s no threat and, as things stand, there seems no apparent goal worth sacrificing for.

Even Moscow concedes some 6,000 deaths in Ukraine, and other estimates are more than double that, which would put it at the level of Soviet deaths in Afghanistan, 15,000 in a decade-long war widely seen as a tragedy, a disaster and a part of what caused the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, rumors of Putin’s declining health continue and the official story is not that he is hale and hearty but that he is handling his health issues well.

Even in a nation with no free press, there’s a point where truth will out.


And in China, Drew Sheneman suggests, there is a significant distinction between the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 and the current protests, despite all the “Tank Man” cartoons floating about: In that earlier case, thousands were gathered in one place and it was easy enough to surround and slaughter them, then rewrite history to make them disappear.

As Sheneman indicates, the current protests are far less centralized and, shall we say, even more contagious.

China is no less repressive today, but perhaps less able to simply swat down the dissenters. Xi is facing a political pandemic that he’s having problems locking down.


Similarly, the Guardian Council in Iran is facing a threat beautifully rendered by Iranian cartoonist Behrang Jeddi, and the fact of his posting this commentary on the hijab protests from a studio in Iran is evidence of the difficulty in holding back modernism and freedom.

Reports that the Morality Police will be disbanded remain more rumor than fact, but what is real is that the crackdown happened in a nation that has, since the Revolution, been torn between modern, Westernized cities and a far more conservative populace out in the countryside.

It has taken strong-arm tactics for the mullahs to retain power, and the question now is whether they can continue to withstand the globalization that not only brings news of the hijab protests to the world, but echoes home the dissent from places like the World Cup.


The Jaw-Dropping Chutzpah Award

This ad popped up on my computer this morning. Do they really think we don’t know “Where It Begins”???

Spoiler alert: Not with anybody who looks like her.


In lieu of music

British cartoonist Ben Jennings was named Cartoonist of the Year for 2022. Here’s his portfolio.

6 thoughts on “CSotD: Free Speech Follies

  1. The “good people” of Georgia never elected Lester Maddox as their governor. Maddox came in (a relatively close) second in the 1966 popular vote, but no candidate received a majority. Therefore, under Georgia law at the time, the Democratic state legislature, in its measured wisdom, selected Maddox over the Republican candidate who had carried the “good people’s” vote by a narrow margin.

  2. Tom Gillespie, the numbers you cite were complied two days prior to the election. Actual turnout was 3,500,00+ or about 50% according to the Washington Post.

  3. Tom, on second glance, the numbers you used are from Dec.6 (yesterday), I’m not sure why the Post’s numbers are different.

  4. As far as the 1st Ramirez cartoon is concerned, he makes brief commentary below each cartoon in his own site. For this one, he references supposed censorship of info about Hunter Biden’s laptop (before Musk’s takeover?), so I assume he’s not on the side of the angels on this one.

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