CSotD: Drawing The Thing That Is Not

Pedro X. Molina (Counterpoint) politely and kindly uses a Simpsons trope to attribute homophobic and transphobic outbursts to ignorance and, perhaps, senility.

It reminds me of December 28, 1969, when my father and I were huddled around the TV in the family room, watching David Hilliard, Chief of Staff of the Black Panther Party, being interviewed on “Face the Nation,” keeping the sound down and hoping my visiting great-aunt, who was in the next room, would not come in.

She was a lovely lady in all other respects but had the prejudices of an older generation and a strong tendency to speak her mind, and, since we already knew how she felt about Black people, we weren’t eager to hear it again.

But since she had no way to influence public opinion or governmental policy, her toxic opinions on that measure were of no significance.

Like Grandpa Simpson, her occasional outbursts could be shrugged off.

It’s not so easy when such things are coming from those who genuinely are in positions to influence public opinion, election outcomes and legislation, and so when Gary Varvel (Creators) asserts that gay and transgender people are deliberately attempting to recruit children, it’s not enough to ignore his statements.

The question is how to respond without, yourself, being unfair, and in an effective way that is, to reference the famous Monty Python routine, an actual argument and not simply contradiction.

Simply telling my aunt she was wrong about African-Americans would have been pointless, and simply telling trans- and homophobes that you can’t turn straight people gay is equally ineffective.

And to assume that you know their motivation is as small-minded and judgmental as the assumptions they promote.

I was just starting middle school when I ran into the expression “to say the thing that is not” in Gulliver’s Travels. It served me well later in reading The Three Musketeers, in which calling someone a liar might make you the offending party in a duel.

To accuse someone of “saying the thing that is not” could mean they were innocently in error, though, if you say it with your hand on the hilt of your rapier, we all know what you really mean.

Still, it gives them the chance to offer an explanation in place of tossing down a glove.

But it doesn’t give them the chance to continue to “say the thing that is not” without knowledge that you will again dispute their statement. To remain silent is to be a coward, to refuse to respond is the same.

And to clear up an innocent misunderstanding is the best of outcomes all ’round.

After all, Aaron Burr was one of the greatest scoundrels in American history, but Alexander Hamilton had a penchant for hurling personal insults. Trial by combat yields satisfactory results only sometimes, and then mostly by happenstance.

Still, the fury over public acceptance of LBGTQ+ people is both puzzling and dangerous, which Pat Bagley unites in this cartoon.

You don’t have to like it, but why do you have to make such a big deal out of it?

It’s not just a matter of the well-known cases in which those who preach loudest against homosexuality and pedophilia are revealed to have same-sex under-age sexual partners in their closets.

It’s more often the feeling gained through experience that people secure in their own sexuality don’t fret too much over what other people are up to.

Most young men realize by the time they are 14 or 15 that lockerroom braggarts are inventing their stories.

But my goodness, those who have to emphasize their point by shooting up cases of beer are surely making Dr. Freud snicker in his grave.

The assault of “transsexual beer” with gunfire is a dangerous thing to be suggesting to unbalanced, insecure ammosexuals. As Lalo Alcaraz (AMS) notes, the GOP seems eager to criticize and encourage hatred over sexual matters and unwilling to pass laws to protect children against gun-wielding lunatics.

To quote Wanda Sykes, “Until a drag queen walks into a school and beats eight kids to death with a copy of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ I think you’re focusing on the wrong shit.”

But some cartoonists and commentators are more focused on sexuality than others, and legislators are happy to follow the lead, if stirring up distrust and fear brings out the voters. Mike Lester (AMS) celebrates a law in Montana that, as he says, bans people in other-gender clothing from reading books to children.

A similar law in Tennessee has already been struck down as a violation of the First Amendment, and it at least had the benefit of specifying “adult” entertainment. The Montana law is simply about men dressed up as ladies and ladies dressed up as men and legislators dressed up as paranoid silly people.

I mean, really.

I am not the only young boy who grew up seeing Milton Berle in women’s clothes without losing my sexual identity, and who watched “Some Like It Hot” and yet continued to find Marilyn Monroe more attractive than either Tony Curtis or Jack Lemmon.

For that matter, I saw the clowns at Ringling Brothers several times and regularly watched Clarabelle on Howdy Doody and have never expected to have an orgasm while squirting someone with a seltzer bottle.

From what I’ve seen of drag performances for children, they’re just another type of clown.

Do clowns turn you on? I’m just asking questions!

By contrast, in this cartoon, Lester is not misinterpreting anything: He is simply drawing the thing that is not. Nobody is performing surgery or irreversible procedures on underage children.

He may simply be mistaken, of course. I cannot read his mind or look into his soul, and I make no accusation, except to point out that he has drawn the thing that is not.

In any case, whether it is spawned by ignorance, by fear, by foolishness or by deliberate lying, the war on woke is, as Clay Bennett (CTFP) says, destructive of unity, equality, justice, freedom and liberty.

It is also stupid, shallow and false. Those who promote it are saying the thing that is not, and I’d like to see them forced by honor to defend their statements.

But dueling is illegal, men no longer carry gloves and honor seems an anachronism. Worst of all, video of the full Gene Kelly/Three Musketeers duel appears to be gone.

This earlier clip will do. It covers both types of honor: Self-image and loyalty.

18 thoughts on “CSotD: Drawing The Thing That Is Not

  1. I wonder how the Montana law defines cross dressing. I mean, how exactly do you define what is a man dressed up as a lady? Would a kilt put you in jail? How about a woman wearing slacks?

    I’m reminded of a letter to the editor I saw in 1979 in Springfield Massachusetts. The local teacher’s union was on strike and the writer ranted about what she had witnessed. She wasn’t upset with low teacher pay or poor working conditions. She wasn’t upset that the strike denied children an education. No, she was upset that the female teachers on the picket line were WEARING PANTS.

    1. HB0359 (https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2023/billpdf/HB0359.pdf), which prohibits children from drag shows, defines “drag king” and “drag queen” as “a male or female performer who adopts a FLAMBOYANT or PARODIC” male/feminine “persona with GLAMOROUS OR EXAGGERATED COSTUMES AND MAKEUP.” (Me emphasis, not in original.) “Parodic” is probably understandable but it’s less clear what counts as “flamboyant.” Same with “glamorous” and “exaggerated.” Is a male drag performer still allowed to do story hour if he is an A-cup? If he’s homely and plain instead of glamorous. If he’s subdued and not flamboyant? Same for a female performer, though I’m less clear on what counts as flamboyant or exaggerated in male impersonation.

    2. I wonder how she’d feel if the female pickets weren’t wearing pants?

  2. I’m just trying to understand why reading books to children in drag is a thing in the first place.

    1. You can’t understand what you already hate. Your question defines you.

      1. Kind of presumptuous of you, isn’t it? What part of my serious question says I hate people in drag? I just don’t see how reading to children became a political issure. I don’t object to it, but I also don’t see the purpose behind it, either.

  3. If drag queens insist they are not targeting children why would they object to a bill prohibiting them from reading to children in public schools and libraries? That logic doesn’t work. Neither does the assertion children are not being surgically mutilated in service to something called “gender-affirming care” that didn’t exist ten years ago. Why now? Vanderbilt Hospital, Univ. of Texas hospital are just two hospitals that have been caught performing surgeries they said they didn’t perform. But let’s learn from the European countries so often trotted out as examples because they just banned it.:

    Repeating: the right is not interested in adults’ private sex life. We’re interested in letting children have the opportunity to make their own decision when they become adults.

    1. Nobody is calling you a liar, but you have said the thing that is not in that the two cases you cite are of hospitals that occasionally, under very limited, controlled circumstances, offered limited services in somewhat different circumstances.

      For instance, a child with indeterminate genitalia, which is not the same thing, may receive treatment, while a very small number of 16-year-olds may be treated with parental approval, which, yes, fits your point but assumes a substantial amount of counseling and consideration and amounts, in general, to an exceptional situation. (And, for the record, I don’t give an aeronautical intercourse what is happening in other countries.)

      Still, you’ve made your point. IMHO, it’s like insisting that because some tigers are gentle, that they make fine pets, but,in any case, it’s why we don’t call people “liars” while insisting that, given the entire topic and judging from the overall circumstances, we can still insist that they have said the thing that is not.

    2. The real question is WHY DO YOU CARE what clothes people are wearing when they read to children?

      Or is it more that some conservatives don’t want children reading any books

      that aren’t specifically endorsed by conservatives?

    3. “The right is not interested in adults’ private sex life”.


    4. Your not interested in anyone’s rights, when you complain about everything you don’t like. If you really cared about children you would do something about all the guns killing them. Last time I checked the 2nd amendment killed more kids than some drag queens.

  4. I think all this comes down to is the fact that these people who want to deny other’s rights (broadly pulling in anti-LBGTQ+ people, anti-abortion people, pro-gun fanatics, governors who coerce undocumented people into taking one-way trips to other states, people like MTG and Bobert, etc. just to name a few) are bullies at heart and have always been bullies. Trump made it clear that to have any sort of “power” you had to be a bully, and many have taken this to heart. I’d love to dig into the backgrounds of any of these people to see if they beat up other kids for lunch money, gave wedgies, told lies about other kids when they were youngsters…as well as who made them this way? Let’s get to the core of their behavior and try to eliminate it, if not now, then within a generation’s time.

    (off the soapbox now, we now return you to regular programming)

  5. As a trans woman, Gary Varvel’s cartoon reminds me of those hook-nosed caricatures from 1930s German newspapers, or maybe something from a smeary 1950s Ku Klux Klan newsletter. It’s absolutely appalling.

    And Mike Lester: Yours isn’t much better. As John Lennon sang, “How do you sleep?”

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