The Fort Worth Star-Telegram decided not to print this week’s Doonesbury comic strips that reveal the hoops Texas women must jump through when seeking a safe and legal abortion.
Texas abortion laws require women to get a transvaginal sonogram, look at a photo of the embryo, and hear a description of it before legally acquiring an abortion. The Republican-strong Legislature passed the bill, and Gov. Rick Perry signed it in May 2011.
Critics used it as another example of the so-called War on Women, saying the process was designed to humiliate women seeking an abortion.
Doonesbury lampoons topics in a comical way. The strip surely reaches people that don’t otherwise pay much attention to cultural controversies. And this week’s comic strip deftly mocks Perry and Texas lawmakers who squawk about less government in people’s lives while passing intrusive, moralistic laws.
Star-Telegram subscribers won’t see the strip. The hometown newspaper that has laid off hundreds of employees in recent years, reduced its page size and content, become less relevant, and just generally sucked more than ever as its owner McClatchy continues to spiral toward the poorhouse, has decided not to print the strip.
Editorial Director J.R. Labbe tried to explain the decision in a column headlined “Civility, consistency drive Star-Telegram decision to sub ‘Doonesbury.’ ”
Talk about wishy-washy.
Labbe regularly shoves her opinions down everybody’s throat, whether it’s her anti-smoking rants, pro-gun advocacy, or whatever. No problem, that’s her job. Now it’s apparently her job to smother the opinions of others.
She begins her new column by stating the obvious: political cartoons have been around since the birth of this nation.
She denies the paper is afraid of discussing abortion, and says it has nothing to do with liberal versus conservative politics.
No, the cancellation of this week’s Doonesbury is all about civility and consistency.
The editorial board had previously criticized Rush Limbaugh for using the word “slut” to describe Sandra Fluke, who spoke in favor of free mandated contraceptives.
Labbe said the Doonesbury strip contains “equally crude” language this week. The strip uses “slut” to mock Limbaugh and his conservative stance. So fairness and civility reigns. Yeah, right.
If I were to guess why the strip was killed, I’d go in this direction:
SCENE: Two old editor types silently worry about their pensions while discussing this week’s Doonesbury strip that will surely anger a few readers even as it does a deft job of revealing a controversial law regarding abortion.
EDITOR 1: “Holy crap, we’re losing reporters, we’re losing readers, we’re losing credibility, we’ve lost our building, and our efforts to create a younger generation of readers have failed miserably. We gotta hold on to every gray-haired, cantankerous reader we’ve got.”
EDITOR 2: “This week’s strip is pretty tame. It uses the word ‘slut’ on one day, but it’s not like that word hasn’t been bandied about during public discourse for weeks now. We’ll look like relics if we kill the strip for that.”
EDITOR 1: “But the fogies will spew Metamucil out of their noses if they see the word ‘slut’ in a comic.”
EDITOR 2: “Shit, Doonesbury has forged its reputation by tackling this type of subject matter. Killing it makes no sense.”
EDITOR 1: “Standing in the employment line makes no sense either.”
EDITOR 2: “Kill the strip.”