Cartoon: We Mustn’t Ruin HIS Life

This cartoon was drawn by Becky Hawkins.

If you like these cartoons, you can help us make more by supporting the Patreon!

Anytime a male student is accused of sexual assault – or even when discussing things more abstractly, like how campus justice systems should treat a student accused of rape – we hear the same argument: “We can’t ruin his life.”

In context, “ruining his life” is a statement that can mean many things. Everything from a long prison sentence, to being expelled, to being made to switch dorms or classes, to losing a place on a sports team, to even being investigated in the first place.

I actually do take their point. Men falsely accused of rape do exist.


But victims of rape also exist. Although being a victim of rape is terrible in any circumstance, it can make things even worse when schools refuse to take action to protect victims, for fear of inadvertently punishing a falsely accused man. Some victims have had to take classes with their attacker, or live in the same dorm.

There is no solution that completely avoids unfairness. But making schools shouldn’t do anything that impacts the life of an accused rapist our top priority doesn’t reduce unfairness. It just transfers it. It moves unfairness away from accused rapists by piling even more unfairness onto rape victims.

This is even worse when we consider that rape is a much more common crime than false reports of rape are. We can’t use this principle to judge any individual case, but it’s safe to say that a large majority of rape reports are true.

Figuring out school justice systems is complex. But schools effectively treating the protection of accused men as their first and foremost goal, making the protection of victims a distant second priority, is a bad solution.

When I was thinking about how to approach this cartoon, I wanted to push back subtly against the “ruined lives” narrative. People are hurt badly, and the course of their life may be altered. But for most, their lives go on. The two women and the girl in this cartoon are all still having lives, and perhaps very good lives, but that doesn’t mean that they’re entirely okay and uninjured.

And frankly, the same is true of a man who is kicked off the football team or even made to switch colleges. The course of his life has been altered – in most cases, deservedly so – but his life is not “ruined.”

I’m not surprised that Becky chose to draw this one. It aligns with Becky’s politics, of course, but it also aligns with Becky’s love of drawing different characters and settings.

Just look at that background in panel 2! She drew seven houses and three cars like it’s nothing. God, how I hate Becky.


[Becky here! Barry is right–I really enjoy drawing different environments! Google maps was my friend for this cartoon. I like opening Google Street View and clicking around different neighborhoods to find the right setting. If I find an area I want to use in a cartoon, I’ll save screenshots to look at later. Panel 1 is a street in Northwest Portland with lots of shops and tall apartment and office buildings. Panel 2 is based on a sleepy street in Southeast Portland. (Instead of copying the street exactly, I clicked up and down looking for an interesting collection of houses.)

The guy in Panel 4 is modeled after Ben Shapiro. I saw a photo of him speaking into a microphone with a radio station written on the arm. So if you zoom in close enough, the red part of the mic arm says “WTAF.” 

I’d actually blocked out the memory of drawing the hand holding the phone. It took so many tries to get it to look right. When I opened the file folder for this cartoon and saw all the reference photos and stock photos I ‘d saved of hand-holding-a-phone, it came flooding back. I’m pretty sure I spent more time trying to draw that dingdang hand than I did drawing seven houses and three cars!]

Barry here again. Oddly enough, I love drawings close-ups of hands holding smart phones, which is probably why I put them into my cartoons so often.


This cartoon has four panels, each showing a different scene. A tiny additional fifth “kicker” panel is under the bottom of the cartoon.


A Black woman in what appears to be a UPS or UPS-like uniform is standing holding a large box with an address label on it, and an electronic clipboard device on top of the box. Behind her we can see the open doors of the back of a van, and inside the van, more boxes to be delivered. She’s parked on a city street, in front of the entrance to a brick building. She speaks directly to the viewer, with a calm but downcast expression.

WOMAN: Everywhere I went I was terrified I’d run into him. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate…

WOMAN: After I failed two classes I lost my scholarship.


A light-skinned girl is on a bike, on a suburban-looking street. The street is clearly residential, and is lined with cottage-style houses. The girl’s clothing is pink, like her shoes and the pedals and basket of her bike.

She’s facing the viewer, but looking downward with her eyes to avoid looking directly at us.

GIRL: He sent the video to everyone in school. Everyone. I had to be homeschooled until I could get into a different school.


A light-skinned woman sits in an armchair, looking vaguely into the air as she talks. She’s wearing jeans and a yellow top, and holding a baby, who is standing in her lap and doing that cute-but-annoying thing babies do of patting the face of the person holding them while that person is trying to talk. The baby has a pink skirt and is cute.

A plant hangs from the ceiling. Judging from the brick building next door we can see out the window, and the radiator below the window, this is probably an apartment in a city. Her expression is a bit sad, but not over the top or panicked.

WOMAN: It’s been ten years… My therapist says PTSD isn’t ever cured, but it’s something I can learn to manage.


A hand with pink, smoothly filed nails holds a smartphone. On the smartphone, a pale-skinned male podcaster or radio host is sitting at a table, a professional-looking microphone in front of him. He’s wearing a jacket over a blue collared shirt (no tie), shrugging with a sad-but-calm expression.

MAN: Nobody feels worse than me about what happened — but we can’t ruin these young men’s lives!


The man from panel 4 is talking to Barry, the cartoonist.

BARRY: What sort of thing would “ruin their lives”?

MAN: Being expelled. Or being publicly criticized. Or made to switch dorms. Or to switch a class. Basically, anything he might notice.

This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Rape Culture, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues | 15 Comments  

Cat Drawing! Wander Face

drawing of cat looking forward

Cat drawing! Just Wander’s face this time when he was an adolescent with a half-grown mane.

drawing of cat looking forward

Posted in artwork, Cats | Leave a comment  

Haiku for January 20th

haiku with background of trees in fog

Waiting in the cold,

trying not to let my mind

rush when all is calm.

Posted in haiku, Poetry | Leave a comment  

How City Budgets Work

If you like these cartoons, help us make more by supporting the Patreon! Getting lots of $1 and $2 pledges is our business model. Also, I just used the term “business model” in a sentence. Life is weird.

For at least forty years, police budgets have been going up. From GovTech:

All sorts of needed city services are starved for funding, but we keep spending a huge and ever-growing amount on policing. Luke Darby in GQ writes:

There’s little evidence, if any, to suggest that more police actually correlates to fewer crimes—and more aggressive policing, like so-called “broken windows” policing and New York’s stop-and-frisk policy, seems to only increase arrests for extremely minor offenses while stoking violent interactions between police and minorities. Yet the hard numbers show that public officials have favored police department funding over public health and other concerns.

Los Angeles is a prime example: Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2020-2021 city budget gives police $3.14 billion out of the city’s $10.5 billion. That’s the single biggest line item, dwarfing, say, emergency management ($6 million) and economic development ($30 million). Garcetti is also planning to raise the LAPD’s budget by 7 percent—to support bonuses for officers who have a college degree—while he’s also trying to institute pay cuts for more than 24,000 civilian city workers (to cope with budgetary fallout from the coronavirus outbreak).

In New York, which has the largest budget for any police department in the country, Mayor Bill de Blasio has called to reduce the NYPD’s budget by $23.8 million—a step in the right direction, but only 0.4 percent of the department’s $5 billion budget. As Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale writes in the New York Post, “New York City spends more on policing than it does on the Departments of Health, Homeless Services, Housing Preservation and Development, and Youth and Community Development combined.”

More money for cops is less money for everything else – including some measures that might improve society and make police less necessary.

This was fun to draw. I de-emphasized drawing backgrounds so I could devote more time to drawing people – there are about 20 figures in this cartoon, which is a lot for me.

I had a particularly nice time drawing panel four. My favorite is the cop who is doing John Travolta’s famous finger-up pose from Saturday Night Fever.


(New drinking game! Every time I make a typo, take a drink. Don’t play this game if you have to drive later.)

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a different scene, and has a different color palette.


This panel, drawing with an orange-ish palette, shows a woman talking on the phone, looking a little panicked. Beside her, a wide-eyed child watches, looking very worried. Above them both is a large caption, in big green letters.


WOMAN: A six year waiting list? But we’re homeless now!


This panel is colored in shades of purple.

A middle-aged woman wearing glasses and a striped dress is talking to a middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie. She looks wide-eyed and worried; he looks angry, glaring into space as he talks.

Behind them we can see a big window; various shapes (a banana, an apple, flowers, a star) have been cut out of paper and taped to the window. In front of them, we see mostly the heads and faces of a crowd of children, variously talking, smiling, making a peace sign, and dozing off (with a bit of drool).

WOMAN: But we can’t fit another 30 chairs into this classroom!

MAN: Chairs? City Hall says kids can stand.


This panel is colored in very dreary shades of green.

We are looking through a doorway at a man with slightly shaggy hair, who sits unhappily at a cheap rectangular table in an otherwise empty room. Outside the room, leaning back as if he’s just calling something into the room while rushing past, a man wearing glasses and a jacket and tie, talks to the shaggy-haired man.

RUSHING MAN: Hi! I’m your public defender. Unfortunately, I’ve been assigned so many defendants that introducing myself is all the time I have for your case this month.

RUSHING MAN: See you at your trial!


This panel is colored in shades of blue, except for the cash, which is colored in green.

A group of cops is dancing merrily while grinning. One cop waggles his midsection; one imitates John Travolta’s disco pose from “Saturday Night Fever”; a couple dances in a pair, arms on each other’s shoulders; a few others are kicking and throwing their arms up into the hair. It’s a celebration. Green cash is filling the air, raining down on them.

COPS (said by several in unison): MONEY DANCE!

How City Budgets Work | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, police brutality | 4 Comments  

Upwards Toward the Light

Image of Upwards Toward the Light by Rachel Swirsky, an illustrated poem based on and in honor of the work of Ursula K. Le Guin with background image of haze obscuring buildings overlooking a rocky shore.

This poem was published in a poetry anthology memorializing Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s composed from scraps of her writing, cut up, pulled apart, and stitched in different ways to create an elegy.

Upwards Toward the Light

We have nothing but freedom:
not a gift given, but a heavy load
of permanent, intolerable uncertainty
that binds us beyond choice.

To be whole is to be part.
We all have forests in our minds,
unexplored, unending
stories in the middle of living.

When we are finally naked in the cold,
we who are so rich, so full of strength,
we breathe back the breathe that made us live,
we give back to the world all we did not do,
we are left only with kindness.

To see how beautiful the earth is,
you must choose to see it like the moon.

Posted in illustrated poem, poem, Poetry, upwards toward the light, ursula k. le guin | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Owning the Libs Equals Victory!

If you like these cartoons, help us make more by supporting the Patreon!

Supporters see most of my cartoons early – they saw this one back in November.

I read a thread on Twitter by a woman whose father had recently died of covid. When her father got sick, her brother convinced their father that going to the hospital and receiving treatment would be a fatal mistake. The brother also believed that the reason the father had gotten sick was that he had gone to a family funeral where there were many vaccinated people, and vaccinated people are spreading disease in some fashion.

After the father died, the brother got sick with covid, too. His sister (thousands of miles away) begged him over the phone to go get treated. He went to the hospital, but then checked himself out and died at home a couple of weeks later.

Whether it’s a deadly disease or climate change, people on the right seem increasingly immune to argument. Climate change is a hoax. Covid is a plot. January sixth was just a bunch of tourists in the capital to snap some photos. Trump was the actual winner of the election.

Of course, some on the left are also immune to argument. But the right-wing immunity to argument isn’t just on the margins of the conservative movement; it dominates their party. Donald Trump was their last candidate for President, and very will might be their next candidate too. And no evidence – not even death – can convince them they’re wrong.

Wow, is this post a bummer. But thinking about this stuff led to the image of a right-winger standing in a blasted hellscape crowing that he’d won. And that thought led to this comic strip, which I think is pretty funny.

My biggest worry, drawing this strip, was making the right-wing character recognizable to readers even after he’s gone through an enormous change in circumstances. Hence the red hair, the widow’s peak, the chin-only beard, and the distinctive glasses frames. I think I did enough so that most readers will recognize that it’s the same character without having to think about it.


This cartoon has four panels.


A woman and a man walk on a path in a hilly park (drawn mostly in shades of green and blue). The man, who has red hair and a red chin-only beard (no mustache), is walking ahead, not looking back at her as he talks. He’s wearing a white button-up shirt with a necktie, brown slacks, and glasses. The woman has black hair, and is wearing a white v-neck shirt with red arms, jeans, and red sneakers. She is holding her hands out imploringly as she talks to the man’s back.

WOMAN: This shouldn’t be a partisan issue! We’ll all suffer if the world is destroyed! But if we work together-

MAN: You’re wasting your breath.


The man, who has crested the hill, turns to look back at the woman, who is still climbing the hill. He sneers with contempt. The woman looks taken aback.

MAN: Don’t show me articles from the New York Times or whatever. Fox told me I can’t trust mainstream media!


MAN: Don’t quote “experts.” Newsmax warned me that those people lie!


A close-up of the man’s head as he speaks, grinning and intense.

MAN: I know everything outside my bubble is false. Nothing you can say will reach me, and there’s no evidence I can’t dismiss as fake.

MAN: Face it — I’ve won.


A caption says “YEARS LATER.”

We’re looking at the wreckage of an absolutely destroyed town or city, drawn mostly in shades of brown and orange. There are tree stumps, and telephone poles which have fallen to diagonal positions, wrecked buildings in the distance, a dark brown smog rising into the air from those buildings. Closer up, there are tree stumps, a window lying on the ground, bricks and pipes and a shattered smartphone and other junk scattered around.

Sitting on the concrete slabs of a broken sidewalk is the man from earlier in the strip. His clothes are torn and ragged, and his hair is grown much longer and looks tangled. One lens of his glasses is shattered. He is grinning (missing a tooth) and pumping a fist in the air in front of him.

MAN: Well, I certainly told HER!

This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc. | 1 Comment  

Haiku for January 13th

haiku with background of pond

Winter-whitened sun

makes a cold, pretty morning–

gentle, short-lived light.

Posted in haiku, Poetry | Leave a comment  

Haiku for January 6th

haiku with background image of blue ice

Bitter, windy, dark,

clattering cold strikes the rain,

sharp, overwhelming.

Posted in haiku, Poetry | 2 Comments  

Link Farm and Open Thread, Abandoned and Forgotten Edition

  1. How an 11-Foot-Tall 3-D Printer Is Helping to Create a Community – The New York Times (And an alternative link, although the fancy photo intro won’t work there.)
    Printing out small but solid houses to be affordable housing in Mexico. Interesting!
  2. She Supported Her Child Being Trans. So They Were Separated.
    This is fucking enraging – and is where the campaign against best-practice medical treatment for trans kids leads. “A 2019 Family Court Review analysis of ten cases involving mothers who affirmed their child’s nonconforming identity found that, in four of the cases, mothers lost physical or legal custody of their children.”
  3. A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at Now, she’s going to prison. – The Washington Post
    “The bogus website has led to the conviction of multiple people who tried to hire professional killers online…. he’s still a little dumbfounded people don’t realize his site is bogus.” (The site itself is pretty funny.)
  4. Dear Isis: An open letter from Gabrielle Union apologizing to her “Bring It On” character.
  5. Lucky, Alice Sebold’s memoir about her rape, is even more brutal to read now that Anthony Broadwater has been exonerated.
    /”…it’s not the responsibility of a traumatized rape victim to fairly investigate and prosecute the person who assaulted her. That is the duty of the police and prosecutors, who failed both Sebold and Broadwater at every stage, from the moment she first reported the crime to the moment he was convicted.”
  6. The ugly origins of the “War on Christmas”
    “The so-called “War on Christmas” began more than a century ago. Remember Henry Ford?”
  7. Workers Are Using ‘Mouse Movers’ So They Can Use the Bathroom in Peace
    I was very confused by this headline until I realized they meant computer mice.
  8. The Troubling Obsession With Political “Tribalism” | The New Republic
  9. Liberals Never Cared About Substantive Criminal Justice Reform, They Just Liked Slogans
    “No matter how many charts and graphs wonks throw at you, remember that the U.S. is already the most incarcerated population on Earth and continues to have one of the highest crime rates among rich countries, including, by far, the highest homicide rate. “
  10. The Great ‘West Side Story’ Debate – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
    A roundtable-style discussion of West Side Story, focusing on how the musical depicts Puerto Ricans. (This was conducted prior to the new movie’s release.)
  11. Where Is The Comma In “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” Supposed To Go? – YouTube
    A short (2 minutes 45 seconds), funny video.
  12. Lies, Damn Lies and ‘Self-Censorship’ Statistics
    “Another pretended to find that 80% of college students were self-censoring but only got to that figure by counting up everyone who didn’t answer that they had literally never had an opinion they didn’t express.”
  13. The Conditional Be in African-American English
    I hadn’t known about the “conditional be,” but it makes a lot of sense. “She showed the kids a picture in which Cookie Monster is sick in bed with no cookies while Elmo stands nearby eating cookies. When she asked, “Who be eating cookies?” white kids tended to point to Elmo while black kids chose Cookie Monster. “But,” Jackson relates, “when I asked, ‘Who is eating cookies?’ the black kids understood that it was Elmo and that it was not the same.”
  14. Saving Democracy Will Require Institutional and Civil Resistance at All Levels | Washington Monthly
    “Blue America needs to start thinking about and planning for what “Break glass in case of emergency” measures look like—because it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. It not only can happen here; it probably will happen here.” I was disappointed that the article didn’t actually do any of the thinking of what the measures “look like” it calls for?
  15. Has Sexual Harassment at Work Decreased Since #MeToo?
    A before-and-after survey suggests that workplace sexual harassment has decreased, but other forms of workplace misogyny may have increased.
  16. Bros., Lecce: We Eat at The Worst Michelin Starred Restaurant, Ever
    “It’s as though someone had read about food and restaurants, but had never experienced either, and this was their attempt to recreate it.” The highlight, I think, was a foam served in a plaster model of the chef’s open mouth, with no utensils; you’re supposed to lick the foam out.
  17. And then scroll to the bottom of this page to read the chef’s response, which includes asking “what is food?”
  18. Dollar Street.
    Fascinating website, using thousands of photos to show what actual daily life looks like for people on different incomes in different parts of the world. You can pick a family and go in depth on their lifestyle, or pick a feature – “what do kids’ toys look like?” – and look at that feature across many families. Very interesting to just click around in.
  19. What Philadelphia Reveals About America’s Homicide Surge — ProPublica
    Extremely good, but a long read.
  20. The Best Obituary I’ll Read All Year Probably – Fayetteville Observer
    “A plus-sized Jewish lady redneck died in El Paso on Saturday…”
  21. We Need to Pack the Supreme Court Now | Time (And an alternate link.)
    “I spent the last seven months on President Biden’s Supreme Court commission, talking, listening, and sometimes arguing with experts from a variety of legal backgrounds—activists, professors, and former judges. I went into the process thinking that the system was working but that improvements were possible. I came out scared.”
  22. Texas AG Paxton’s $2.2M voter fraud unit closed three cases in 2021. GOP lawmakers still boosted its budget.
    It’s only the taxpayer’s money, after all, why not spend millions of dollars on a politically beneficial snipe hunt?
  23. Even on U.S. Campuses, China Cracks Down on Students Who Speak Out — ProPublica
    Horrifying. ““They told us to make you stop or we are all in trouble,” his parents said. Then other Chinese students at Purdue began hounding him, calling him a CIA agent and threatening to report him to the embassy and the MSS.”
  24. The art of Aphantasia: how “mind blind” artists create without being able to visualise
    I also have aphantasia, and found Glen Keane’s description of how he draws without having a “mind’s eye” to be very accurate. (Although sadly, I don’t draw nearly as well as Keane.)
  25. Photos by Jessica Favaro and jean wimmerlin on Unsplash.

Posted in Link farms | 28 Comments  

Cat Drawing! Pete Winks

drawing of cat winking

This is one of the images I used in Scragamuffin, the chapbook I released as October’s exclusive Patreon reward. I thought it might be fun to release the pictures with the photos that inspired them.

photo of cat head turned, winkingThis image just looks so improbable! I wonder if I could/should convert it into a literal emoji?
Posted in artwork, Cats, Drawing | 1 Comment