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.
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.
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.