The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for July, 2023

Quackery Quotas

In reality, universities already contain a mixture of political views — you’ll find plenty of Republicans in business schools, economics departments, and law schools (see also: Frat Row). They also sit on boards of directors and comprise a large chunk of the donor class. But the right’s revolutionary project will not be satisfied until students stop learning facts that contradict the movement. Feminism, gender studies, the ugly parts of American history, climate science — it all must go! And so we get cries for “ideological diversity,” which sounds fair to well-meaning people who believe in good-faith debate as a way to arrive at the truth. But truth is not the goal here; the goal is power.

In Ron DeSantis’s Florida, new standards for teaching K-12 African-American history include a recommendation that the curriculum cover “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” As this excellent LA Times editorial points out, there is no reason for this other than to whitewash the horrors of slavery.

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Striking Back

This week’s comic was largely inspired by Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments on the writers’ strike during a lengthy interview on CNBC last week. He absolutely stepped in it when the subject of the WGA came up, calling the strike “very disturbing” and “very disruptive.” What wasn’t mentioned in the conversation is that Iger stands to make some $54 million over the next two years while writing and acting jobs have been so degraded that they’re no longer sustainable. Residuals from streaming are often miniscule, with payments in the pennies. Media companies are deleting their own shows from streaming platforms so they no longer have to pay residuals at all. The amount of spec work has grown, leaving writers without income for long periods of time, sometimes never to be paid a cent. The fact is, it’s not the creators who are the aggressors here. To the extent that they are being “disruptive,” they are responding to how their jobs have been destroyed.

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Pick Your Social Network

The mad scramble for social network dominance has reached a fever pitch, with Meta/Facebook launching its new Threads app recently. Word is it feels soulless and corporate, and your feed is filled with influencers with large followings that you can’t opt out of seeing. The head of Instagram, to which Threads is connected, says the platform won’t be encouraging politics, as such topics aren’t worth the scrutiny or negativity. (Downplaying “politics” is also convenient if your company has done some extremely questionable political things involving, say, genocide and selling data to unscrupulous presidential campaigns. In fact, it’s great for dictators and aspiring autocrats in general!)

I did finally sign up for Bluesky last week, so please follow me if you’re on there.

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Hanging Workers Out to Dry

As the Texas Tribune has reported, Gov. Abbott just signed off on a bill that will eliminate ordinances in Austin and Dallas requiring a ten-minute water break for construction workers every four hours. This is part of a larger power grab by the state aimed at overriding the more progressive policies of cities. Businesses complained that the “patchwork” of laws created an unreasonable burden. Now, I don’t see what’s so difficult about remembering to give workers water so they don’t die while they’re building a skyscraper in Austin or Dallas. What this actually seems to be is corporate authoritarianism, an effort to destroy any democratic ability to protect the public interest.

A few readers have pointed out that Saguaro cactus doesn’t grow in Texas, and they are right! I was using desert cartoon tropes without thinking about the actual location.

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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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