The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for 2024

“Cryogenic Nursery”

I’ve done so many cartoons over the years about blobs of cells being regarded as full human beings that it has become a challenge to find new ways to satirize this idea. Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, the Alabama Supreme Court provided some new fodder with its recent ruling that IVF embryos are people. In a case involving the accidental destruction of frozen embryos, the court disturbingly referred to the embryos as “extrauterine children” kept in a “cryogenic nursery.” Needless to say, this is wreaking havoc on Alabama’s IVF clinics and upending the plans of many would-be parents.

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Using the First Amendment to End the First Amendment

In recent years, the First Amendment has been shoddily invoked to justify decisions that ultimately diminish its very raison d’être, quite possibly leading us to fascism. 

Alarmingly, we’re now seeing state-level absurdities such as Florida removing sociology as a core course in its college curriculum and replacing it with a course teaching the “historically accurate account of America’s founding.” Indiana’s Attorney General Todd Rokita has launched the creepily-named “Eyes on Education” portal for the public to report “indoctrination” in classrooms. The West Virginia House just passed a bill allowing for the prosecution of librarians if an “obscene” item falls into a minor’s hands.

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Forced Labor Funnies

This cartoon is based on the AP story entitled “Prisoners in the US are part of a hidden workforce linked to hundreds of popular food brands” that was published recently. (It’s a long piece, so if you’re in a hurry, you can check out their “takeaways” article summarizing the report.) To put it briefly, prisoners are doing a lot more labor in the food supply chain than I think most of us realized. While some inmates choose to work, many are compelled to do so under threat of punishment. The 13th Amendment allows involuntary labor as punishment for a crime, so the practice — which disproportionately affects people of color — can look an awful lot like slavery. The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where inmates do farm work, is literally located on a former slave plantation. These jobs often pay pennies or nothing at all.

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Signs Your Government is Committing Crimes Against Humanity

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir responded “Hague Schmague” after the world court allowed South Africa’s charges of genocide to proceed. Netanyahu’s Twitter account posted “Nobody will stop us – not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anybody else.” Whenever you hear government officials attempting to discredit The Hague, that is a huge warning sign that something has gone very wrong in that country. Yes, Hamas committed heinous crimes requiring a response, but Hamas is not the same as the whole population of Gaza, which is being indiscriminately slaughtered and starved to death. Journalists reporting on the carnage are being targeted as well.

For more background on the third panel about the State Department making human rights exceptions for Israel, see this Guardian article.

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The AI Journalism Awards

Almost overnight, the internet has become flooded with junky AI content (the word “content” really does apply here). I tend to do a lot of research for my cartoons, both image and news searches, and the top results used to be mostly trustworthy publications, or at least sites I was familiar with. Now I get walls of search engine-optimized garbage. A publisher of a tech website complained on social media the other day that AI sites are showing up in news results instead of their publication that employs actual human journalists. Amazon’s website has been notoriously plagued by AI-generated products, including fake books on Kindle. Sports Illustrated, which just got shut down (!), made news a little while ago for using fake AI-created writers with realistic biographies.

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Pundits Pave the Way to Hell

A few weeks ago, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump is ineligible for the ballot due to his attempt at insurrection. And then the mewling of the performatively unbiased pundit class began. Among the worst examples was New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who laughably wrote that insurrection was “not the most precise term. When I have the chance to use a longer description, I generally say that Trump attempted to secure an unelected second term.” Several others platitudinally argued that we should “let the voters decide” — as though we didn’t already go through that with the candidate in question, who very much did not respect the voters’ decision, and would likely never let them decide again.

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Billionaire Buttinsky on Campus

This cartoon was inspired by recent events at Harvard, but the same dynamic is happening at many universities. Harvard’s behavior is shameful, allowing a petty tyrant to rule the university with an iron fist. They need to reinstate Gay. It seems we’re knee deep into an authoritarian era even without Trump back in the White House. 

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Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist seen on Daily Kos, The Nib, and in magazines and
newspapers throughout the US. 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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