FAIRBANKS — Along with a very small number of other newspapers across the nation, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (as well as the Juneau Empire) chose not to publish (i.e., censor) last week’s series of Doonesbury comics.
For those of you that have been deprived until now, Doonesbury is the Pulitzer Prize-winning brainchild of Garry Trudeau that has now been syndicated for over 40 years — It is carried by over 1,400 newspapers.
The controversial comics in question use the recently-upheld ‘sonogram law’ in Texas as subject matter. Among other things, the law requires abortion-seeking women to have a sonogram 24 hours before their procedure.
According to Anna Merlan, of the Dallas Observer, the law states that abortion-seeking women must also listen to their potential child’s heartbeat and receive state-mandated literature informing them of alternatives, even if the woman declines such information. Merlan adds that said literature contains claims that abortion is linked to breast cancer, which, according to the National Cancer Institute, is simply not true.
The Daily Cartoonist reported that, as of March 12th, at least 69 publications had decided to pull the series altogether. Make that 71.
Other papers, such as The Anchorage Daily News and The Los Angeles Times, reacted more sensibly, opting instead to temporarily move the strip from its normal location on the comics page, lest any children happen upon it and learn the sad truth.
Still others decided to run the whole series on a single day rather than tainting their papers for the whole week. Even some of them, though, chose not to include the 4th strip in the series, which was scheduled to appear on Thursday, the 15th — that one must be a doozy.
Fear not, Fairbanks — fairbanksirl.com will run the entire series right here, with the generous permission of Garry Trudeau himself, via Reader Supported News – they are releasing the six strips of the series this week, one-at-a-time, allowing them to be republished by folks like us.
Here is the first day’s strip, which was supposed to be published Monday, March 12th:
I contacted the News-Miner’s office to see if they’d like to comment on why they chose to be part of the extreme minority of newspapers that decided to ban the series. (Again, Doonesbury is carried by over 1,400 papers, and less than 100 chose to practice censorship — that’s well under 10%, even if my numbers are way off.)
The Managing Editor of the News-Miner, Rod Boyce, promptly took my call but declined to comment, other than noting that he didn’t ‘want anything to do with (fairbanksirl.com).’ Fair enough — I’m sure he has his reasons, and I don’t begrudge him his opinion.
Jersey Jones (yes, that’s his real name), a regular News-Miner reader and fan of all things controversial, had this to say about the situation: “It’s sad to see the News-Miner resorting to censorship and kowtowing to the far-right interests of Texas fundamentalists…”
Here is the second strip in the series:
Garland Walker, of Juneau, in a letter to the Juneau Empire dated March 15th, eloquently notes the absurdity of such censorship:
(titled ‘The Comics Police’)
Dear Juneau Empire: Thank you so much for policing the editorial page for me. The recent removal of the Doonesbury comic strip from the Empire editorial page saved me from having to consider if I agreed or disagreed with the comic strip’s point or even having to determine if, in fact, there was a point worth considering. Of course, this left me to ponder what is the purpose of an editorial page? I was under the impression that, among other things, it was to put forth ideas that caused — no, challenged — the readership to think critically about serious and topical issues. Thank you for correcting me of that misimpression. I agree that it is better left to the Empire to decide those messy matters for me. That way, I don’t waste my valuable time and possibly get confused about whether I agree or disagree with the Empire’s position. Unfortunately, now that I have done all this hard thinking in writing this letter, I have a headache. I was thinking about reading the comics in the comic section for relaxation. Please advise me if this is a safe decision or if doing so could be dangerous to my unchallenged points of view.
Well said. Well said, indeed.
Here is the third strip in the series:
The man himself, Garry Trudeau, in an email to Reuters, had this to say about the inspiration behind the banned series:
“…(the) party of limited government,” (an apparent reference to Republicans) has put into law “onerous preconditions for a perfectly legal procedure…”
“This is happening in statehouses across the country,” Trudeau continued. ”It’s lunacy, and lunacy, of course, is in my wheelhouse.”
Here is the fourth strip in the series: (this is the one that even some of the non-censoring papers chose to censor)
The final two strips were released after this article was published — they can be found HERE…..
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Last Updated on May 25 2013, 3:53 pm AKDT
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