‘DOONESBURY’ HITS A NERVE
When comics first crept onto newspaper pages a hundred or so years ago the objection was that they were a frivolous diversion.
Now, apparently the problem is just the opposite. The News & Record and Winston- Salem Journal are two of the dozens of daily newspapers across the country that are not running this week’s “Doonesbury,” which lampoons a new Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. The explanation of Editor Jim Thompson at the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia is quite possibly the strangest: “Given that the Georgia General Assembly is considering an abortion bill — House Bill 954, sponsored by Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, which would prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy — I made a unilateral decision not to publish the ‘Doonesbury’ strips intended for publication News and views from inside the media bubble this week. Quite simply, I thought there was a real possibility that readers might confuse the topic of this week’s ‘Doonesbury’ with Georgia’s proposed abortion legislation.” Along with “too real,” other newspapers have objected on the basis of “graphic content” and “over the line of good taste and humor.” So far, I’ve missed the grounds the latter two objections. In Monday’s installment, a young woman visits an abortion clinic and is directed to “take a seat in the shaming room” where she’ll be attended by “a middle-aged, male state legislator.” And on Tuesday said middleaged, male legislator calls the young woman a “slut” after the young woman divulges that she has availed herself of the clinic’s contraceptive services. Children have to learn about the hazards of self-righteous, moralistic harassment at some point, don’t they? Or, as my colleague Joe Killian put it, “These people have seen the rest of the paper, right?”