This Week’s Cartoon: “Drones Among Us”

I thought about doing a cartoon on Egypt, but at the time, I didn’t really have much to add beyond “Wow.” I will promise you one thing, though: if I do draw a cartoon about Egypt, it won’t involve the Sphinx, hieroglyphics, or King Tut. (I’m afraid to say I just found one depicting the Sphinx crying.  Really.)

This week’s installment is something of a follow-up to my previous cartoon about Predator drones, in which I envisioned using them to fight crime in the US the way we use them in Afghanistan (and Pakistan). Thanks to a tweet from a Slowpoke reader, I read this article about small drones being purchased for surveillance by the Miami-Dade police department. I guess I don’t have a problem with a SWAT team sending up a flying beer keg — that’s the nickname for the Honeywell T-Hawk drone, mind you — if they’re about to bust in on a house full of heavily-armed goons. But the thought of patrol by drone does seem a little weird on the face of it — so weird, in fact, the Department of Homeland Security won’t touch it (aside from the drones they use for border patrol, that is).

flying beer keg drone

Photo taken from WIRED, who got it from Honeywell. If you’re really curious/geeky, the Washington Post has a video of this thing flying through the air. Oh, the research I do for you people!


  • Kevin Moore

    Wait. Why is the Sphinx crying? Shouldn’t it be happy that people are rising up against their dictator and demanding democracy?

  • Amanda

    There is something a bit “Minority Report” or some other science-fiction dystopia about police using these drones that can make one uneasy.

  • James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    You still think you live in a free country? Wake up America. It’s over. Big brother in the form of a police state run by multi-national corporations is hear. Throw in the theocracy of the religious reich whose hold on everything else is increasing and you have the worst of nightmares.

    So long, Amerika, it was nice to know ye.

  • Tom

    I think whoever drew the weeping Sphinx woke up hung over and realized a deadline was looming (can you tell I used to work for newspapers?), heard on the morning news that there was “rioting” in Egypt and quickly dashed off something. It does remind me of The Onion, where they parody editorial cartoons by having cartoons, always featuring a weeping Statue of Liberty, that are bass-ackwards from whatever is actually going on.

    The Whitley Streiber novel “War Day” included California police patrolling for illegal migrants to California by using ultralight aircraft. I first thought this cartoon drone was just something that was dashed off from watching The Jetsons, but no, they really do look like that! Very weird.

    This brings up a legal quibble. Some states years ago began enforcing speed limits with aerial patrols that time drivers crossing the distance between two white strips on the highway. Then the ticketed drivers starting going to traffic court and saying “OK, where’s the arresting officer who is supposed to testify against me?” Well, he was either flying around or over at the doughnut shop. And the charges would be dismissed. This, as I understand it in my limited grasp, wouldn’t work for a felony. But for underage drinking? Littering? Loitering?

  • Anne S

    Whatever you do re: Egypt, Jen, I hope you spend more thought on it than Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

    He’s clearly been relying on domestic American media sources only, who seem absolutely dedicated to cramming Egypt’s uprising into their Islamophobic narrative, however badly the facts fit the story they want to tell. This is disappointing. Everything coming straight out of people on the ground contradicts this kind of fear-mongering.

  • Jen Sorensen

    Anne — I actually know Clay personally, and usually he’s spot on. Not sure about this one, though.

    Here’s one that’s worse:

  • Amanda

    Why is Bob Gorrell allowed to be a political cartoonist?

  • Michael Welle

    You know this comic made me realize how much of a genius George Orwell really was to have foreseen a future like our own. It is interesting that both the books “1984″ and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” (oh and also Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”) look so much like our present day world in terms of the ideas they presented so many years ago. I have a copy of Huxley’s book in my room. It is intersting to read how Huxley responded to Orwell after reading his book, and his ideas remind me of your comic sometimes, Jen:

    “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is destined to modulate into a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in ‘Brave New World.’”

    After reading this comic, and watching the news, it looks like Orwell has the upper hand right now. Although all of those prescription drug commericals (espeically for Viagra, etc.) do remind me a little of narco-hypnosis.

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  • Mr. Mayes

    Pshaw! This is small stuff! Wait until there’s an ED-209 on every corner. Now that’s a good time!

    I’ll buy THAT for a dollar!

  • Chris

    That police drone looks an awful lot like the Central Scrutinizer from Zappa’s ‘Joe’s Garage’ album. The Central Scrutinizer’s purpose, of course, was to enforce the laws that haven’t been written yet.

  • Jen Sorensen

    Michael – Being a political cartoonist does feel a bit like being a science fiction writer these days. I recently finished the Tripods series by John Christopher. In the prequel, there’s a brainwashing TV program called the Trippy Show; reading it now, you can’t help but think of Fox News.

  • Marcus

    I’m a big fan of Clay Bennett’s work too. He has a very subtle style that makes his points wittily but without rubbing it in your face.

    Take his cartoon verses Bob Gorrell one Jen linked to. Both are making the point that there’s a danger that Egypt could become a theocracy, but Bennett’s cartoon is clever, even if you think it’s overstating the risk, while Gorrell’s is simply boneheaded and offensive.

  • Michael Welle

    Jen-I haven’t seen that show yet. I remember in the Steven Spielberg movie “War of the Worlds” (which was okay) the machines that the aliens walked around in were called “Tripods.” The last doctor’s office I visited had Fox News on in every room in large high definition TVs. I stopped going there after that first visit.

  • Tom

    Micahel, go online and order a “TV-b-Gone” at, naturally, It attaches to your keychain, and is a godsend when, for example, you’re trying to have a pleasant dinner with your someone and the restaurant has a TV showing video clips of spectacular crash deaths. Don’t point it directly, rather, cradle it in your arms and aim sideways. Or cross your arms and aim from beneath your armpit/shoulder so that it’s more subtle.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.