Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
The initial inspiration for this cartoon was a story in the New York Times Magazine two weeks ago, about the Christian effort to ban not only abortion but contraception. There really is a faction of American Dingbat Fundamentalism that believes that anything other than sex within the sanctity of marriage for the divinely ordained purpose of begetting children—what Hunter Thompson called "a quick dutiful hump in the missionary position"—is dehumanizing and evil. (Sex can be dehumanizing and evil, of course, but only if it’s done very well.) Hence their insistence on abstinence-only education not only here in Amerrica but in countries decimated by AIDS. This seems to me to be related to Fundamentalists’ sentimental love for unformed, idealized fetuses and babies and their homicidal hatred of actual adult, flawed human beings. Personally children are the least sexy thing I can think of, less sexy than the Holocaust, and as far as I’m concerned it’s just an unhappy coincidence that having sex causes them. My unverifiable but absolutely confident personal bet is that most of these people were raped or molested as children (famously a popular red-state pastime), hence their hatred of sex in general and creepy fixation on homosexuality. Of course the hatred of sexuality goes way back in Christianity, and is inextricably associated with the Church’s disgust for the corporeal body and the mundane world—in other words, its enmity toward everything that actually exists. (Thanks to my old dance instructor, Herr N., for this insight.) The Bush administration’s deep hostility to reality is consistent with this historical attitude.
The firebombing is a true news story. I learned about this from CNN while eating Sunday brunch a couple of weeks ago. A twenty-year-old student at Crown College, a Baptist institution in Powell, Tennessee, dressed up as a ninja and used a fake gun to drive employees out of an adult bookstore before dousing the place with gasoline and setting it on fire. He experienced an attack of conscience after getting into a car accident which he felt was a sign from God, and his college President, to his credit, called the police and urged the confused youth to turn himself in. The owner of the bookstore, on learning it was torched for religious reasons, wanted to charge the boy with a hate crime. This made me very happy.
My colleague Emily suggested a fourth panel that would’ve provided the perfect punchline to the whole cartoon: "BRING RAPINE BACK TO MODERN WARFARE; THE RIGHT WILL HAVE TO SUPPORT IT." It just turns out to be tough to make rape funny. (Though I have no doubt that if anyone could pull it off it would be Emily. You hear that, Flake? The gauntlet has been hurled.) In the end I had to throw out the whole premise when I did a little research and learned that American soldiers really are raping Iraqi women. This ought not to come as a shock; whenever there is war there is always rape. A letter smuggled out of Abu Ghraib in 2004 first disclosed that women prisoners there were being forced to strip, being raped, and that several had become pregnant. The note ended by begging insurgents to bomb the prison to end their disgrace. Funny how this hasn’t made headlines here in the U.S. (I read about it in the U.K. Guardian.) I guess it would be sort of unpatriotic to report it. Not many Iraqi women are likely to come forward with their stories, either, since Islamic society is even more virtuous than Christendom, and rape victims there are considered so shameful that they must often be killed. Members of the U.S. Congress have seen photographs from Abu Ghraib documenting these abuses, but these haven’t been released to the public, supposedly for fear of reprisals against Americans in Iraq. I had in fact envisioned for my panel Abu Ghraib-type photos of our heroic troops gangbanging a girl in a burqua, surrounded by word balloons of right-wing pundits making the usual excuses they do for Our Boys’ atrocities: dismissing them as "youthful hijinks," clucking "boys will be boys," blustering that "they do it to us," and "you can’t fight terrorism with kid gloves," and citing scriptural support for rapine, of which, I’m sorry to tell you, there’s oodles. Old-Testament God is always commanding the Israelites to go forth into some neighboring kingdom and kill all the men there and take their women as their wives, which it’s hard to imagine being unanimously consensual. (See Numbers 31: 7-18, Deuteronomy 20: 10-14, Judges 5:30 and 21:10-24, and Zechariah 14:1-2, if you’re deeply religious but really want to rape someone and are looking for the divine go-ahead.) As I’ve argued before, the Right is anti-sex and pro-death across the board, and the one circumstance in which I can imagine Fundamentalists condoning extramarital sex would be in the case of wartime rape, so long as it was our American crusaders impregnating the pagan women of the Middle East with blessed little white Christian babies. Sorry—am I getting cynical in my middle age? Perhaps it is relevant that I myself have not had sex in a while now. This makes me cranky and bitter.
It may be worthy of note that two of my recent cartoons—"My Rejected New Yorker Cartoons" (which included the infamous "Graveyard Shift at the Pussy Juice Factory") and this week’s "War on Sex"--have interfered catastrophically with my romantic life. The former actually caused a girl to flee my apartment a couple of weeks ago. She claimed that "it would be a betrayal of my family and everyone I grew up with for me to stay here." Wow! I have been told many unflattering things by histrionic women— the previous cake-taker was an insane German neuroscientist who told me "That is the problem with America, everybody fucks each other and lies"--but this is the first time anyone’s suggested that associating with me would bring disgrace upon their entire families. (I blame Michael Kirby, who dictated this cartoon to me a decade ago.) Then, a couple of days ago, I happened to find myself at the same bus stop as a young woman I’d recently asked out at the coffee shop where I work in the mornings. She had accepted my invitation but we had yet to go out on this date. I unfortunately had my folder of work-in-progress with me, and she asked if she could see some of my work. The only panel I had with me was #1, with the word balloon about "…a tongue in your ass feeling a million times better than Jesus in your heart." I decided not even to attempt to explain the context. I figured, better to be unapologetic than defensive. She laughed, or pretended to, but she hasn’t called me back yet. Even in modern urban dating etiquette, the whole subject of tongue/ass contact isn’t customarily broached before the first date. Oh well. In general my cartoons have proved an efficient filtering device for screening out the humorless, literal-minded, and thin-skinned and attracting the deviant, so I’m not about to start hiding them.
Readers may also be interested to know that I drew panel #2, of the Republican lady tentatively fingering the enormous black dildo, while sitting about a foot and a half away from a couple of underwear models in Chumley’s, in Greenwich Village. I eavesdropped in horror on these women for about forty-five minutes. They were the stupidest, most shallow people I have ever come into contact with outside of Cecil County, Maryland. All they talked about was going clubbing and dancing, exotic locales they’d been flown to, and what a creep such-and-such a celebrity was. (Apparently one of them had some sort of altercation on a dance floor with Mary-Kate of Mary-Kate and Ashley.) They were like the queen bitches of your middle school, with more money than you can imagine. They had bland unbeautiful generically attractive faces, the faces of dumb spoiled cheerleaders, but the juicy, aching-hot bodies of underwear models. Never before have I experienced such powerful desire for anyone for whom I felt such intense loathing.