Splitting Goatee Hairs

A number of readers have tweeted, emailed, and commented to inform me that I am confusing the Van Dyke beard with the goatee in this week’s cartoon. I call this goatee strict constructionism — sort of the Clarence Thomas view of facial hair (setting aside the fact that Clarence Thomas is actually a judicial activist). I believe in a broader interpretation, a living goatee, if you will. Or, to quote from previous-post commenter Mike Peterson:

So it turns out that absolutely nobody is wearing goatees these days after all.

The only other possible explanation is that language isn’t frozen in amber but grows and changes with time, and we know that can’t be the case.

I would also point readers to this Cincinnati Enquirer article on the history of goatees, which places the Van Dyke firmly in the chronology of goatee evolution (or devolution, as the case may be).

I mean, when’s the last time someone famous (Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, Brad Pitt) sprouted one of these and everyone called it a Van Dyke? No, we use the word “goatee.” Oh, and Olbermann shaved his sprouting goatee just a day after this cartoon appeared on Daily Kos. COINCIDENCE???


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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