The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for June, 2011

This Week’s Cartoon: “Welcome to Ball-Mart”

I’m sensing a distinct lack of outrage over the Wal-Mart sex discrimination ruling, probably because it’s more complicated an issue than a politician tweeting boner pics. In a nutshell (er, no pun intended), the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against female employees being able to file a class-action lawsuit, with all three female justices dissenting. Scalia, refusing to see any correlation in the vast statistical and anecdotal evidence, said the myriad women who faced discrimination must confront the retail Goliath individually. Never mind that the top brass at Wal-Mart turned a blind eye to everything. The discriminatory managers were just a few thousand bad apples! Oh, and as Ruben Bolling points out in this week’s “Tom the Dancing Bug” Scalia’s son is on the Wal-Mart legal team.

I recommend this post by Adam Serwer on The American Prospect for more on the ruling. Key grafs:

Not only do you have to prove the “old boy network exists,” but now you have to do it under a higher standard of proof than ever before. Where discrimination operates as unconscious or unacknowledged bias, rather than as a deliberate, concerted effort to bar one particular group of people from advancing, even where the systemic impact is clear, the conservative justices see no evil.

Scalia’s opinion reflects the deeply flawed view that intent is required for discrimination, and that nominally being opposed to discrimination is by itself an effective bulwark against discrimination occuring. As Ginsburg wrote in her partial dissent, “Managers, like all humankind, may be prey to biases of which they are unaware.”

Or, as this USA Today editorial points out:

Many legal experts say Monday’s decision will make it difficult to bring cases unless there is an overt policy of discrimination. That seldom happens. Companies don’t write out discriminatory policies for the world to see.

What good is outlawing sex discrimination de jure if it cannot be applied de facto? But hey, we saved the world from Anthony Weiner’s pixelated wang.


This Week’s Cartoon: “Asterisky Business”

I have something of a ladycrush on Elizabeth Warren. I feel like she’s exactly who I’d be (or would want to be) if I’d grown up to become a Harvard law professor instead of a cartoonist.

Of course, Republicans can’t stand the thought of having someone ethical and intelligent trying to help consumers understand their credit card bills and mortgages. God forbid Americans actually be informed about how they’re being screwed. (I feel like I’ve said that before; I probably have.) I highly recommend the documentary Maxed Out, which features Warren, if you want to learn more about the grotesque predatory lending practices that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is intended to curb.

The “projectile incontinence” bit was inspired by a segment in Infinite Jest I recently read about a junkie going through heroin withdrawal. I think the projectile part was mine, but I’m not sure, so I’m going to give David Foster Wallace some credit here.


This Week’s Cartoon: “All Food Recalled”

If this one looks a little familiar, that’s because I drew it during the Great Peanut Butter Scare of ’09. I didn’t need to change a thing in order to use it again.

I’m not recycling it out of laziness, though. I’m having knee surgery on Friday, and trips to the doctor and other knee-related activities have hampered cartoon production. I’ve been avoiding talking about it online because, frankly, I’m tired of thinking about knees (which were designed by a complete idiot, by the way). But I suppose you faithful SlowpokeBlog readers deserve to know.

From the original “All Food Recalled” blog post:

For the second panel, I was trying to think of the grossest things one could possibly find in a food processing factory. What sprang to mind was the time I was in a grocery store in Pennsylvania, and I thought to look at the ingredients on a tin of scrapple. And there I saw it: the word “SNOUTS.” Snouts, I tell you! That’s where they wind up! As you can see, that moment left an indelible impression on me. Seeing as fresh snouts are apparently perfectly edible, I made the snouts in my cartoon rotten and slick with Astroglide, as though employees had been engaging in some very strange kink right next to the conveyor belt.


This Week’s Cartoon: “Drooly Julie in ‘Hard Science’”

OK, so I couldn’t resist the Weiner story. But at least I tried to address the larger issue of  the media’s obsession with sex scandals, as opposed to drawing something that basically said “Haw haw! Politician can’t keep it in his pants!” Unlike the lawmakers who supported the Iraq War, Weiner never cost anyone his or her life. Nor was he hypocritical like so many “family values” politicians who try to micromanage other people’s sex lives (as Dan Savage put it) while taking liberties with his own. Plus, the boniferous crotch shot had a certain je ne sais quoi.

Seriously, though, it’s a huge problem for our democracy that the important issues — especially ones involving money — tend to be too dry and complex for mass appeal. Because that’s really where the action is. Not in Weiner’s underpants!

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This Week’s Cartoon: “GOProducts”

I wrote this one on my flight to Boston for the Reubens Weekend. I’d just read a NYT article about tennis star Maria Sharapova launching a line of tennis ball-shaped candy called “Sugarpova” which sort of cracked me up. And then a strange paranormal phenomenon occurred: the closer I got to Boston, the more I became possessed with the kitschy spirit of “Big Fat Whale” cartoonist Brian McFadden, at whose apartment I would be spending the night. The cartoon was actually drawn in Brian’s Big Fat Office, and Photoshopped on his Big Fat Computer using one of his Big Fat Fonts. Moreover, Brian suggested the title and provided key editorial advice for the last panel, which was going to show a jar of jellybeans with the black licorice ones removed as opposed to the funnier “separate but equal” jar of beans. So, Brian, Mr. Perkins tips his hat to you. I apologize for only adding the “Thanks, Brian” to the strip belatedly, as it’s well-deserved.


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.

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