The Sorensen Monologues

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And now a word about “republics” vs. “democracies”

I’ve received many comments over the past week about my last cartoon, snootily lecturing me that “We live in a republic, not a democracy.” I’m posting my response here so I can point people to it in the future.

1. A constitutional republic is a form of democracy. To quote from this:

The United States is not a direct democracy, in the sense of a country in which laws (and other government decisions) are made predominantly by majority vote. Some lawmaking is done this way, on the state and local levels, but it’s only a tiny fraction of all lawmaking. But we are a representative democracy, which is a form of democracy.

2. It’s not big or small government that I care about; it’s smart or stupid. In other words, it’s about policy, not “the government.” Once you start doing away with government, or the idea that government regulation is necessary, you grant more power to corporations and Wall Street. Government exists as a check on abuses of power by moneyed interests. While government can be corrupt to varying degrees, the fashionably cynical belief that all government is inherently corrupt is an idea that enables corruption.

The primary way to end government corruption is through campaign finance reform and publicly-funded elections. Anti-government libertarians have not supported candidates or policies that would lead to this outcome. Gorsuch will uphold Citizens United, ensuring future corruption of politicians by moneyed interests, furthering the right-wing ideology that government is inherently corrupt. And so the cycle continues.


Reader mail on right-wing “political correctness”

I appreciated this note from reader Alex, in response to my recent comic on the concept of political correctness:

I’ve been reading your comic for years and I loved your latest one on right wing political correctness—something that seems to get completely ignored!

I’ve made a list of right wing political correctness in the States I thought you’d enjoy:

You cannot critique:
Military
Police officers (particularly policeMEN), firefighters (particularly fireMEN)
America
Americanism
Patriotism/Nationalism/Fourth of July
Christians
Christian Holidays (and you must say Merry Christmas/Happy Easter)
White victims of crime/trauma
Football
Eating meat
Guns

You cannot use:
[The terms] heteronormative, internalized misogyny, implicit bias/racism, white privilege, racist (must say racial bias), sexist
Data, science, statistics that contradicts “feelings” (of white people that is)
Words to describe terrorists other than Islamic extremist .

You cannot talk about:
Drug addicts as victims rather than criminals
Reasons why someone might get an abortion
Birth control
Criminals as people
Terrorists as people
Cycles of poverty
Terrorism committed by white people
Excitement about “first woman” or “first X”


A comic essay on medical marijuana

Go check out this piece I edited for Fusion, a comic essay by Adam Bessie and Marc Parenteau that makes a compelling case for letting people use medical marijuana to ease their suffering.
HunterSThompsonPANEL


Odds and ends

A couple things I’ve been up to lately: I edited this illustrated essay by Juana Medina about her Kafkaesque experience immigrating to the U.S. Moving here legally and permanently from another country isn’t as easy as some people think.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing comedy writer Nell Scovell (credits: The Simpsons, The Muppets, Spy Magazine, among many others) for the Austin Chronicle’s SXSW coverage. We had a nice chat about bullshit and women in comedy.


Posting schedule

For the time being, I’m going to try to maintain a more regular schedule of posting my comic here on Monday night/Tuesday morning. My travels and editing work for Fusion have made posting a little unpredictable over the last several months, so to simplify things, let’s say Tuesday morning is the new time.


Comic on marijuana legalization

Over on Graphic Culture, I’ve been working with ace comics journalist Andy Warner on this excellent piece about a grower in California trapped in legal limbo. It’s a fascinating look at entrepreneurship while walking a very fine line until full legalization (probably) happens.

GrowerDan550


Afterword on responses to college rape comic

My recent graphic journalism piece for Fusion about my friend’s sexual assault got a large response. Here’s a post I wrote on the feedback I received.


Announcing my new gig: Graphic Culture

TwitterLogoSome of you have noticed a lack of activity here on the blog, and later posting of cartoons than usual. This is because I have started working as Comics Editor for Fusion, a new media company from ABC and Univision. If you aren’t familiar with Fusion, it’s both a cable channel and digital news outlet aimed at diverse young adults. (It’s OK if you’re not a young adult — you can still enjoy it.)

Last fall, we launched Graphic Culture, a collection of cartoons, comics, and longer-form graphic journalism pieces, as well as occasional animation and articles about cartoonists. The site is still in “Beta” — a whole new site, and Graphic Culture front page, is coming soon. But I invite you to check it out now. We’ve published lots of great stuff already, including this roundup Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

If you’d like to help out, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I’m very glad to be able to create new opportunities for cartoonists and bring new comics projects into the world.

So now you know why I haven’t been blogging much. I have a good excuse!


A Salute to the Great Etta Hulme

Etta Hulme self-portrait from the Star-TelegramPioneering editorial cartoonist Etta Hulme, who worked for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram for decades, passed away recently at the age of 90. She drew cartoons well into her eighties, retiring in 2008. Hulme was, at times in her career, the only female political cartoonist working professionally in the entire country. She was a great artist and a political iconoclast in Texas, in the Molly Ivins and Ann Richards mold.

It’s puzzling to me how this amazing woman flew under the radar of the powers-that-be for her entire life. She never won a Pulitzer, despite her high-caliber talent that, in my opinion, exceeded that of many Pulitzer winners. Her Wikipedia entry is only a few lines long. Apparently she didn’t merit a New York Times obituary — unlike many obscure businesspeople, authors, and filmmakers who populate that section. But you can read remembrances of her on the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs, which interviewed several cartoonists, including me. The Star-Telegram has more.


Delayed posting + WaPo article

I had a whirlwind of a week in DC for the Herblock ceremony, and did not get around to posting the latest cartoon on Monday as usual. Fortunately(?), Donald Sterling is still making headlines by putting his foot in his mouth.

Also, be sure to check out this truly wonderful Washington Post article by Michael Cavna that was published the day of the Herblock event.


Additional thoughts on Obamacare comic

I’ve appended some follow-up thoughts on my Kaiser Health News comic to this week’s cartoon, below. (Posting this to cycle it into the blog section of the front page).


Great podcast on the origins of “jaywalking”

CarMoloch

In response to this week’s cartoon on pedestrian rights, a reader sent me a link to this fascinating article and podcast about city streets in the early 20th century. The streets used to be for people, many of whom resented the introduction of cars, which had a tendency to slaughter children. Automobile interests promoted the concept of “jaywalking” to ridicule pedestrians — a belittling term with connotations of “country bumpkin.”

Coincidentally, one of the hosts of the podcast (Jesse Dukes) is someone who was at the University of Virginia at the same time I was. I didn’t know him personally, but I’m pretty sure we crossed paths during my day job years at the library.


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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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