Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 10/03/01

Artist's Statement

I was almost finished with this week's cartoon--an exceptionally complex and elaborate drawing, by the way, which will be in the paper next week--when something provoked me to draw this one instead. I was driving north on I-95, north of Baltimore, when I saw a homemade banner hung from an overpass. There are lots of these on 95 since the terrorist attacks, most of them with patriotic slogans like "United We Stand" or "God Bless America." This one, spray-painted on a bedsheet, reproached us all, "Repent--Then God Will Bless."

I suppose most readers have heard about Jerry Falwell's ill-advised pronouncement on the 700 Club, blaming the terrorist attacks on homosexuals, feminists, abortion, etc. It delighted me when he said these things--it exposed him even to his own followers as the hateful bigot he is, and (I hope) finally discredited Christian fundamentalism as completely as the Catholic Church discredited itself in 1755 by declaring the devastating Lisbon earthquake, which killed thousands, a judgement on sinners.

Me, I recognize only two religious denominations in the world, in spite of the superficial differences between them: good and evil. Good religious people do things to help other people: feed the hungry, clothe and house the destitute, care for the sick, fight corrupt and despotic governments, etc. Evil religious people want only to judge and punish: they bomb abortion clinics, stone adulterers, fly commuter jets into skyscrapers.

My only regret about this cartoon is that it isn't about what I really meant it to be about, which is the cruelty that is at the heart of fundamentalist religion. I thought about having Falwell volunteer to blow up something in San Francisco, the TransAmerica tower, maybe. But cruelty just isn't as funny as sex, and I know the bit about the seventy-two virgins has been overused already, but I can't stop saying Bin Laden's line over and over to myself. (It's funnier when I do the Arabic accent.)  And I think the cartoon still makes it clear that Falwell is intrigued by the benefits the jihad offers, that he's thinking of joining up. Plus it was fun to draw their faces, the one soft and bloated, the other thick-lipped and sneering. Some people's faces are so disfigured by hypocrisy and corruption that they render caricature redundant. Anyway, I hope this makes the point that Falwell and Bin Laden both belong to the same faith and are on the same side; they are both enemies of humanity. And if you ask me they deserve the same fate. I would personally urge Jerry Falwell to join the glorious war on secular immorality, commandeer an unmanned jet, and fly it into another revered American landmark, the Grand Canyon.