Cartoon: Terfluffle in the Supermarket

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This cartoon was written by me and drawn by my most frequent collaborator, Becky Hawkins. Becky also came up with the title. Thanks Becky!

(For those of you who don’t know, “TERF” is short for “Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist.”)

Here’s something I can say for certain: When they notice this cartoon, I’ll be insulted by some TERFs, not in a “I think your cartoon sucks” way but in a “you’re a fat p.o.s. who should die” way. Of all the groups I’ve insulted in my cartoons, only the racist antisemites are more consistently hateful than the TERFs. And, of course, TERFs are kind to me compared to how they treat trans women.

It a subculture – much like the Men’s Right’s subculture – in which people sit in a bubble and egg each other on into becoming ever more bigoted. To such an extent that all of the horrible things the TERF in our cartoon says, are things I’ve seen TERFs say in real life.


This cartoon has four panels.


Two women are talking in a supermarket. The first, a woman with stylish glasses and her blonde hair pulled into a low bun, and wearing a reddish orange dress with matching shoes, is grinning with a smug expression and holding up her phone to show the other woman.

The second woman has short brown hair, worn in a style called a “quiff”:  “short hair that’s left longer on top and dramatically swept to the side.” She’s wearing jeans, brown boots, an open red button-up shirt over a white tee, and four piercings in her ear.

The two are waiting on line by a counter at a supermarket; we can see a glassed-in counter (like a Supermarket deli) behind them, with ad pictures on the wall showing a sub sandwich, a big joint of meat with slices carved off, and a salad.

GLASSES: As a feminist, I look for small ways to fight misogyny every day!

BOOTS: What a great idea!


A close up of Glasses, holding up her phone in one hand, and raising her other hand’s forefinger to make a point, still smiling widely.

GLASSES: Like, here on FaceBook I told a trans “woman” that he‘s just a man in a dress!

GLASSES: And on Twitter I said that all transgenders rape women by appropriating women’s bodies!


Another close up of Glasses, reading her own screen and laughing big, but with a rather mean expression.

GLASSES: And here, I said transgender “women” are to women what Twinkies are to food!

GLASSES (very large): HA!


In a shot similar to panel 1’s shot, we see Glasses continuing to smile and talk to Boots. Boots, with a horrified expression, has turned away from Glasses and is now holding her own smartphone, which she’s frenetically typing on with a forefinger.

GLASSES: So what’s a small way you’re fighting misogyny?

BOOTS: Telling everyone I’ve ever met to block you.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 32 Comments  

Cartoon: You’re So Brave, I’d Rather Be Dead

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I’m not disabled, so the first time I heard a disabled person say that ablebodied people repeatedly tell them “I’d rather be dead!,” it boggled my mind. I actually wondered if that disabled person could be an unlucky outlier, someone who had run into an extraordinarily large number of ablebodied jerks through sheer chance. (Every statistical group has clusters and outliers, right?)

But then I saw it again, online, in a forum for disabled people, and I read the comments – person after person saying “oh, yeah, that happens to me, I’m sick of it.” And then I saw a similar thread on Twitter.

And then I finally thought, “hey, this should be a political cartoon.” (I’m sometimes not the swiftest.)

Once I had that thought, the cartoon was very easy to write. This general structure – a series of repetitive events showing how stigma or prejudice cumulatively wears down its targets – is one I’ve done several times before, including in the cartoon I posted here yesterday.

This doesn’t bother me; many cartoonists I admire have themes they return to again and again. The trick is finding new angles for exploring the same theme.

* * *

Embarrassingly, exactly as I wrote the words “new angles,” I remembered a cartoon I did four years ago that’s almost exactly like this one, about white people’s habit of touching Black people’s hair. What I wrote back then, about that cartoon, also applies to this one:

Part of what I wanted to get at, with this cartoon, is the cumulative nature of these small indignities (aka microaggressions). It’s simple for the character, in panel 1, to repel the request with at least an appearance of good cheer.  But when it comes again and again and again and again and again, it’s not so easy. Things add up; pressure builds. What if it were just one person might be “wow, that person was really awkward, what was up with that?” becomes a pattern of small assaults to one’s dignity.

If I had remembered that four-years-old cartoon, I would have tried to find a different angle for this one.

So am I sorry I did this one? I admit, I’m not. If some readers (especially disabled readers) enjoy seeing the “I’d rather be dead” cliche made fun of in a cartoon, and feel that the cartoon at least partly reflects their own life, then for me that completely justifies making this cartoon.

It’s interesting (to me at least) to compare the art of the two cartoons. The script is very similar, but the layout and the drawing style are radically different. I definitely put a lot more work into drawing this one.



This cartoon has six panels. The first five panel shows a woman with blue hair with a thin pink streak, thin oval glasses, and arms that end slightly above where her elbows would be. In each panel she appears, she’s in a different setting talking to a different person. I’m going to call her GLASSES.


A caption at the top of the panel says “Monday.” A brown-haired woman, hands clutched together in front of her chin, is anxiously staring at Glasses. Glasses, who was walking and is wearing a backpack, turns back to look at the woman.

ANXIOUS: You’re so brave. I’d rather die than live like that!

GLASSES: Um… Thank you?


A caption says “Tuesday.” In a grocery store, a muscular man in a sleeveless tee, who is pushing a grocery cart, talks loudly at Glasses. He is between Glasses and the shelf, and Glasses is gesturing towards the shelf behind him, looking a little annoyed.

MUSCLES: I can’t imagine being you. I’d rather be dead.

GLASSES: Dude, I just want some Pop Tarts.


A caption says “Wednesday.” Glasses is seating in the… what do you call those things? The sort of built-in stadium seating some college lecture halls have, with a series of long curved benches and desks, each one on a higher level as they get further from the front of the room, so everyone has a good view of the professor. Glasses has a laptop open on the desk in front of her. We can see a couple of bored looking students in the row behind Glasses.  Next to Glasses is a man wearing a jacket, one of those “image of a necktie” tee shirts, with his black hair in a long ponytail and an expression of extreme disgust. Glasses looks very annoyed as she responds to him.

PONYTAIL: I couldn’t stand not wiping my own butt. I’d die first!

GLASSES: Shockingly, butt wiping isn’t actually the pinnacle of human existence.


A caption says “Thursday.” Glasses walks down a city sidewalk, a cartoon cloud indicating grumpiness floating above her. Behind her, a man wearing sandals and pants with torn knees, and carrying a shopping bag, grins as he talks at her; she doesn’t even bother turning back to look.

SANDALS: It’s inspiring that you haven’t committed suicide.


A caption says “Friday.” An older couple, a man and a woman, are looking at Glasses; the man, wide-eyed, is speaking, but is cut off by Glasses yelling at him, leaning forward angrily.

MAN: I’d rather be dead than-

GLASSES: I don’t want to die. I have a great life! Except for ablebodied people telling me my life isn’t worth living!


The “camera” pulls back to show the man and woman now standing by themselves; Glasses, it is implied, has stomped off and left the scene. The man and woman look annoyed as they look in the direction Glasses went.

MAN: Those people are so rude!

WOMAN: Obviously it’s the disability that makes her so angry.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Disability Issues, Disabled Rights & Issues | 1 Comment  

Cartoon: Capitalism/Socialism

If you like these cartoons, help me make more at my Patreon! Lots of $1 or $2 pledges means I can make a living.

Today’s comic is written by me and drawn by Jake Richmond, creator of Modest Medusa. Jake is a longtime friend and collaborator of mine – he colored my “Hereville” graphic novels – but this is the first time he’s drawn a comic of mine.

Jake’s a terrific cartoonist. The major reason I asked him to draw this strip rather than another is because I’ve always liked how Jake draws water.

This strip was obviously inspired by our current situation. The amount that Congress has allotted to stimulus is frankly not nearly enough to address the size of the economic crisis – but it’s still much larger than what most American politicians would ever support, and even the Republicans voted for it. (For round one, at least. I suspect they’ll give in and vote for round two, but who knows?) When things get dire, it turns out a safety net isn’t optional.

To my patrons: As always, thank you for supporting these cartoons.

As this crisis goes on, I keep being blown away by how lucky I am. I live in a nice house with eight housemates, so I have plenty of company, and none of us are ill. I have a job I love that I can keep doing through the crisis. We have food and even toilet paper.

And I have the pleasure of knowing that my work means enough to folks that they’re willing to support it. I am awed to be so lucky.

Extra thanks, this time, to Claire Nolan (who is also thanked in the sidebar of the cartoon). I hope you like this one, Claire! If you’d like to be emailed a print-quality high-res copy of this cartoon, signed to you by me and by Jake, please get in touch.

(Would any other folks like to be thanked in the sidebar too? Upgrade your pledge to $10 or more and it will happen!)



This cartoon has four panels. All four panels show a man in a one-person rowboat. He’s rowing  The man is wearing an “Uncle Sam” style red-white-and-blue top hat.


The man – let’s call him Uncle Sam – is rowing and talking cheerfully. He’s rowing facing backwards (as people often do in rowboats), so he can’t see that his boat is heading straight towards a large rock jutting above the water.

SAM: Capitalism capitalism capitalism capitalism…


The boat hits the rock, and Sam is thrown over the side of the boat. His hat flies up a little off his head, and we can see that he’s bald.

SAM: Capitali- AHH!


The man, looking panicked, scrambles to get back into the boat, yelling as he struggles, the water splashing around him. His hat floats on the water nearby.



Sam is now back in the rowboat, looking happy and relieved. All is calm. He has put the hat, dripping with water, back on his head.

SAM: Where was I…? Oh yes… Capitalism capitalism…

Posted in Capitalism, Cartooning & comics, Class, poverty, labor, & related issues, Economics and the like | 6 Comments  

Cartoon: It Weighs You Down

This cartoon is another collaboration with Becky Hawkins.

If you like these cartoons, help there by more by pledging $1 or $2 at my patreon! Every bit helps.

This month, two cartoons ended up being completed at more or less the same time – this one, beautifully painted by Becky Hawkins, and one drawn by me (with colors by Frank Young) which I’ll post tomorrow. It’s been years since I first jotted down the idea for this cartoon; the other cartoon was thought of just a few weeks ago.

But looking at them now, I realize they both have the same theme, which is the way that stigma’s effects pile up over time. You’ll see what I mean when I post the other strip tomorrow.

I’m currently in an online debate about fat acceptance with Helen Pluckrose (I owe her a response). While researching that, I read a couple of articles about the ways stigma hurts people’s health, both mentally and physically. Not only is anti-fat stigma failing to make anyone thinner or healthier; it’s actually making us less healthy and making us die sooner.

* * *

I first sketched this one out a few years ago. I liked the unusual format (I’ve done the alternating-text-and-image format only once before) and the playing around with word balloons, but somehow I never got around to drawing it.

This month, I showed Becky several not-yet-drawn cartoons that I thought she’d be a good match for, and she picked out this one. And I’m so glad she did! Her handpainted colors lend the piece a visual moodiness that I don’t think I could have matched.

So, for comparison’s sake, here’s what I gave Becky to work with.

As  you can see, virtually every visual detail in the finished strip was made up by Becky. I did suggest to her that there could be painted, cloudy dark panels instead of the flat black panels in my sketch, and holy crap did she ever deliver. I love the way this cartoon looks.


This cartoon has nine panels, in three rows of three panels each. Five of the panels have black and gray paint forming cloudy, dark abstract shapes, while the other four have non-abstract drawings. The two types of panels alternate, creating a checkerboard pattern. The abstract panels get darker as the strip goes on, until by the last panel it’s mostly black. Each of the abstract panels has a caption in plain white lettering.


A cloudy field of gray paint, with a caption near the top, which says: AFTER


We’re on an airplane; people are finding their seats. A fat man with glasses and a red-orange polo shirt is seated on the aisle; a thin woman with a scarf, pushing a roll along suitcase, has paused next to his seat and turned to speak to the person behind her in the aisle.

SCARF WOMAN: Oh God, do I have to sit next to him?


A cloudy field of gray paint, with a caption near the middle. The lettering is a little diagonal, rather than straight, and the second word is lower than the first. It says: A WHILE


A laundromat. The same fat man we saw on the plane, is in the foreground, looking up blankly in the middle of folding laundry. Mounted high on the wall behind him, next to a row of driers, is a TV that’s showing some sort of talk show, with three people seated on a couch facing the camera.

Clinging to the fat man’s back is the woman’s word balloon from the airplane panel.

Person On TV: Let’s face it, fat people choose to be like that!


A cloudy field of gray and some black paint, with a caption a bit below the middle. The lettering is a bit more diagonal than in panel 3, and the second word is sunk much lower than the first. It says: IT WEIGHS


We see the fat man again, in a coffee shop holding a mug, looking up with an unhappy expression. Behind his back, we can see the people sitting at the next table over. One of them, a thin man wearing a sleeveless shirt and jogging shorts, is grinning and holding up a finger as he makes a point.

There are now two word balloons clinging to the fat man’s back, the woman’s word balloon from the airplane panel, and the TV’s word balloon from the laundromat panel.

JOGGING SHORTS MAN:  …put the donuts down and get off the sofa now and then!


A cloudy field, about equally split between black and gray. The caption is now at a 45 degree angle and is near the bottom of the panel. It says: YOU


The same fat man, identifiable because of his red-orange shirt, is lying limp on the floor, arms spread out, possibly unconscious; we can recognize him from his body shape and red-orange shirt.

His face is covered by a pile of word balloons on his trunk, formed by all the word balloons from the previous three panels we’ve seen him in – “put the donuts down” and “fat people choose to  be like that” and “have to sit next to him?” — topped off by a new balloon spoken by an off-panel voice.

OFF PANEL VOICE: You’d look so much better if you’d lose some weight.


A cloudy field of black and gray paint, with the black paint dominating. The caption is diagonal and so far down in the panel that parts of the letters disappear below the bottom of the cartoon. We can still see that it says: DOWN

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat | 13 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Happy Times Edition

  1. Who Was Elijah McClain? What to Know About His Death After a Police Encounter – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
    The three police officers claimed that all their body cameras fell off (what a coincidence!). They also claimed that five foot six inch, 140 pound Elijah McClain had “incredible, crazy strength,” and all three of them had to get on top of him.
  2. Opinion | America Didn’t Give Up on Covid-19. Republicans Did. – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
    “Covid-19 is like climate change: It isn’t the kind of menace the party wants to acknowledge. It’s not that the right is averse to fearmongering. But it doesn’t want you to fear impersonal threats that require an effective policy response…”
  3. The origin of “African American” | Arts & Culture | Yale Alumni Magazine
    The author found the term “African American” used in 1782. There’s debate over if the writer was actually African-American, as they claimed to be.
  4. What the AI Behind AlphaGo Can Teach Us About Being Human | WIRED
    A story about the first computer AI to beat a champion human Go player.
  5. The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of “jaywalking” – Vox
    Includes a gorgeous vintage anti-jaywalking editorial cartoon.
  6. The Princess Bride Letters
    In the novel The Princess Bride, there’s a missing scene, with an address to write if you’d like to get the missing scene mailed to you. I always intended to do that, and never did. But here’s the response(s) I would have received had I mailed them.
  7. It Can Happen Here | by Cass R. Sunstein | The New York Review of Books
    A discussion of a few books about life for ordinary Germans under Hitler. “Decades afterward, memoirists referred to their ‘happy times’ in the Hitler Youth, focusing not on ideology but on hiking trips, camaraderie, and summer camps.”
  8. The (First) Time Nazis Marched in Portland
    In 1936 – “As the cruiser arrived, Portlanders lined the waterfront, not to protest the already-publicized human rights atrocities underway in Germany, but to wave hankies and exchange “heil Hitler” salutes with the Emden crew…”
  9. I Am the Dad Who Installed Lava in the Rumpus Room Floor – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
  10. Addressing The Claims In JK Rowling’s Justification For Transphobia
    Lengthy and thorough.
  11. Anti-trans group admits bathroom predator myth is made up
  12. A faster response could have prevented most U.S. Covid-19 deaths – STAT
  13. West Side Story, but 12 minutes long and Cher plays every character – YouTube
    I’m honestly impressed that, at the point in her career where Cher could do virtually anything and get it on TV, she chose this.
  14. Free Speech and Marginalized People – Liberal Currents
    “. Suppression of speech is not directed most intensely at controversial speech. It’s directed at speech by people who are controversial—that is, at marginalized people who lack power, and who are therefore easily silenced and ignored.”
  15. » 30 Rock Landed on Us
    A short essay about how 30 Rock approached race.
  16. My Family Saw a Police Car Hit a Kid on Halloween. Then I Learned How NYPD Impunity Works. — ProPublica
    Although this story is less tragic, like the Elijah McClain story, it shows how freely police lie, and how little fear of consequence many police have.
  17. New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified coronavirus – The Washington Post.
    The three studies are suggestive, but of course correlation is not causation.
  18. Spray Their Names Aims to Paint Murals That Honor Lives Lost and Amplify Marginalized Voices – 303 Magazine
    Both images in this link farm came from this article. The first image is a mural of Breonna Taylor painted by Detour, Hiero Veiga and Just. The second image is a mural of Elijah McClain painted by Detour and Hiero Veiga. Both photos are by Brittany Werges.

Posted in Link farms | 33 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, I’m The Frog What Was In There Edition

  1. Is puberty delaying treatment ‘experimental treatment’?
    Lengthy, but well argued and worth reading.
  2. There’s racial bias in our police systems. Here’s the overwhelming proof. – The Washington Post (Alternate link.)
    Lengthy list of studies, divided into subject areas.
  3. Why The “Hoax” Paper of Baldwin Should be Reinstated (pdf file)
    A neuroscientist argues that one of the “grievance studies hoax” papers – the one about fat bodybuilding – should be reinstated, and discusses what it means for a paper to be a hoax.
  4. Cole Carini, Virginia Man Inspired by Incel Killer Elliot Rodger, Was Making Bomb: Feds
    It appears that an incel accidentally blew his own hand off while making a bomb for killing “hot cheerleaders. I’m just glad he failed. “Incels” have been linked to at least 53 deaths in recent years.”
  5. Why Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic primary – Vox
    “Americans do not primarily vote as a member of an economic class, but rather as a member of a party and identity group (race, religion, etc.).”
  6. Leftist Policy Didn’t Lose. Marxist Electoral Theory Did. | Washington Monthly
    “The reality is that leftist policy has never been more ascendant in the Democratic Party since at least the 1960s if not the 1930s. The Biden 2020 campaign platform is well to the left of the Clinton 2016 platform, which was itself well to the left of the Obama 2008 platform.”
  7. A White Woman, Racism, and a Poodle | FranklyWrite
    It took her a while to realize why the cops were suddenly pulling her over all the time.
  8. On TV, Cops Are Always the Main Characters
    “TV has long had a police’s-eye perspective that helps shape the way viewers see the world, prioritizing the victories and struggles of police over communities being policed.”
  9. NYPD Officer Caught Planting Marijuana in a Car — Again
    In the second case, the innocent man – who had fresh stitches in his abdomen that the cops opened by throwing him to the ground – took a plea bargain, and I can’t blame him. A recent reform law in NY might help some (for example, by giving defense attorneys timely access to body cam footage), but the cops are lobbying to have the reforms undone. The two cops who have now twice been caught on video planting evidence are still employed, still on patrol.
  10. How I Defeated the Tolkien Estate – The Toast
    “Little did I know I was heading into a legal and scholarly Midgewater when I wrote and published The Lord of the Rings: A New English Translation.” (Thanks to Marnanel!)
  11. Covid-19 Does Not Discriminate by Body Weight | WIRED
    The links between fat and Covid-19 are not nearly as well established as the media has been telling us.
  12. How U.S. Cities Tried to Halt the Spread of the 1918 Spanish Flu – HISTORY
  13. The Fine Art of Comics Pantomime, with Little Lulu and Company.A really fun, curated selection of wordless one-page strips by John Stanley. Some lovely cartooning here.
  14. On Gender Stereotypes | Growing Up Transgender
  15. Want to know how many people have the coronavirus? Test randomly
    They’re not suggesting that ALL testing should be random. They’re suggesting that a small percentage of our overall testing should be used to test a representative sample of 10,000 Americans, in order to get a better picture of what’s going on.
  16. Sex Work and Stigma: Why Won’t Woke Boys Pay for Sex?
    This article is a bit all over the place, and I don’t agree with it all, but it brings up a lot of interesting issues.
  17. You’re Worrying About the Wrong Bees | WIRED
    Mandolin showed me this article – I hadn’t realized how much bee variety there is. Just because honey bees can survive won’t be enough to preserve the bee’s place in the ecosystem.
  18. Honey Bees Have Gone From Endangered To Dangerous – And That Is A Science Journalism Problem | American Council on Science and Health
    Another interesting bee link from Mandolin. “…our use of honey bees as an agricultural tool, moving them from pollination site to pollination site, is equivalent to introducing a new, extensive species into each area.” “Beekeeping is an agrarian activity that should not be confused with wildlife conservation.”
  19. The Day Treva Throneberry Disappeared
    A fascinating and sad multi-year true story.

Posted in Link farms | 17 Comments  

Cartoon: Looters!

Help me make more cartoons by supporting my Patreon! A $1 or $2 pledge really helps.

I usually post my cartoons on Patreon a week or two (or more!) before I post them in public (like on “Alas”). It’s a way to say “thank you” to the folks supporting my cartoons.

The exception is when I do a cartoon about a current news story. Which I usually don’t – my “beat” is less daily news than it is long-term social justice issues. But sometimes, I really want to comment on something in the news… like with this cartoon. And in those cases, I do post the cartoons in public and here on Patreon on the same day. (I think my patrons would also want a cartoon like this seen while it’s timely.)

I do think looters are a legitimate news story – but they shouldn’t be the story. They’re a part of what’s happening, but a relatively small part. But hoo boy, does the mainstream media looooove them.

I thought of this cartoon on Monday, after reading a tweet from writer/comedian/actress Ashley Nicole Black. She wrote:

I keep seeing news anchors say “It’s unfortunate that the looters are taking attention away from the real issues” while they, the media, talk about looting instead of the real issues.

I sketched out the cartoon Monday night, putting in way too many words, and then my friends Becky and Kip helped me pare it back. (Thanks, y’all!). Then I drew and drew and drew until my shoulder hurt. And here we are!

As always, thanks to my patrons for supporting these cartoons. I really, seriously, honestly couldn’t do this without you.


This cartoon has four panels. All four panels show a news show of some kind, with an anchorman who has very carefully combed hair. In panels one and four, we see the news show on the screen of a smartphone being held in someone’s hand; in panels two and three, we only see what’s on screen. At the bottom left of the screen in every panel is two rows of chyron text, a small block of text on top of a larger block of text.


A smartphone is being held in a hand. On the phone’s screen, we see a news anchor talking seriously, straight to the camera. A graphic on the upper right shows a hand in a striped sleeve holding a bag with “$” on it.

ANCHOR: And worst of all, looters take attention away from real issues!

ANCHOR: Here to talk to us about those issues is Denise Johnson of “Police Accountability Now.” Welcome, Denise.

CHYRON TEXT (upper): We think for you! #News12

CHYRON TEXT (lower):  Looters! Live in fear!


The news screen is now in a split-screen, divided by a vertical line in the middle. On the right, the news anchor is talking with an inquisitive expression. On the left, a middle-aged Black woman, dressed in a professional fashion (blazer, black shirt, necklace) is speaking, with a friendly expression.

DENISE : Thank you for having me on.

ANCHOR: We’ve been talking about looters all day – but what about the underlying issues?

CHYRON TEXT (upper): There’s no #News12 without “ew!”

CHYRON TEXT (lower):  Are Looters Outside Your Door?


The same shot. Denise is now speaking with a serious expression, her hands raised in a “I’m explaining” gesture. The anchor is suddenly angry looking, fists and shoulders raised.

DENISE : Okay. The first big reform we want is demilitarizing the police. Studies-

ANCHOR: Yes, exactly! It’s so frustrating that looters take attention away from proposals like that!

CHYRON TEXT (upper): #News12 is your only friend

CHYRON TEXT (lower):  Looters Stole Your Housepet


Denise has been replaced by a black screen with a little electronic “blip” in the center, indicating that she has disappeared from screen. The anchor is smiling at the camera as he talks.

DENISE: Um… Okay. As I-

ANCHOR: Sorry, Denise, we’re out of time. Next up: Footage of looting!

CHYRON TEXT (upper): #News12 is your mom

CHYRON TEXT (lower):  Looters Looters Ratings Looters

Posted in Cartooning & comics, In the news, Media criticism | 1 Comment  

DiRico Dialogue’s interviews Barry

Hey, I was on a podcast!

We basically shot the shit about politics and cartooning for 45 minutes, and hopefully I didn’t sound too much like a noodge. But let’s face it, with my vocal qualities, noodge is sort of my natural home.

The host was great Interesting guy, smart, ex-marine, young, intends to run for office someday. Although he sometimes talked to me like I was supposed to be some elder statesman and I was nice about it but inside I was going WTF!!!!!

It’s about 45 minutes long. I had no idea that we were going to be discussing things like “What happened with Bush v Gore? Explain that to me,” or the origins of the Electoral College, so I’m hoping I didn’t get too many details wrong.

DiRico Dialogue’s Episode 4: Talking Politics and Comics w/ Barry Deutsch.

Posted in About the Bloggers | Leave a comment  

My Response To Helen Pluckrose About Fat Acceptance

Dear Helen,

Hi! I’m writing to respond to your open letter, “on Fat Scholarship and Activism.”

A thousand words seems cruelly scant to me, but I’ll do my best.

For space reasons, I won’t dig into our “obesity vs fat” semantic disagreement. I suggest we each use our preferred word, neither making a fuss about the other’s choice. (Ditto for “fat acceptance” vs “fat activism.”)

Part 1: Your charges against the fat acceptance movement.

Your criticisms of fat acceptance are a mix of cherry-picked examples and uncharitable readings.

For instance, you say where fat activism “could oppose discrimination against obese people in the workplace, it goes on about ‘romantic discrimination.’” But the linked article contains only three paragraphs about “romantic discrimination,” a fraction of a much longer piece. (And do you really think cultural components of attraction aren’t worthy of being written about? I can’t agree.)

Your claim that fat acceptance “doesn’t do this kind of work” – meaning opposing things like workplace and medical discrimination – is staggeringly wrong. I could provide a hundred links of scholars and activists addressing those issues, but since time is limitedhopefully just ten will prove my point.

Your other indictments followed a similar pattern, but with only 1000 words, I must move on!

(This article by Angie Manfredi, aimed at teens, is a non-comprehensive but accurate overview of fat acceptance’s goals. And Yasmin Harker created this useful bibliography of academic works about fat rights and fat discrimination.)

Part 2: Why I’m Generally Anti-Diet

We both want to end stigma and discrimination against fat people. Where we disagree (if I’ve understood correctly) is that you think fat people should try to not be fat, and that fat people are by definition unhealthy.

Accepting for a moment, for argument’s sake, that fat is unhealthy, that doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that most fat people should try not to be fat.

First, I’ll stress that no one is under any obligation to maximize health. Exercise and cooking can take time, space, money, and mental energy which not everyone has. And people can legitimately prioritize other things.

But some fat people do wish to prioritize their health. Shouldn’t those fat people be encouraged to lose weight?

Some should – people with specific, serious conditions that weight loss could help (even if they’d still be fat).

But for 99% of fat people, I’d say not. The evidence is clear that weight-loss plans don’t work for the large majority. Most never lose a significant amount of weight – certainly not enough for a fat person to stop being fat. And usually whatever weight is lost – or more – comes back within five years. This causes mental anguish, because failure to lose weight, or to maintain weight loss, easily turns into self-hatred. If the person tries multiple times (as is common), the physical effects of yo-yo dieting can be very harmful.

Wayne Miller, an exercise science specialist at George Washington University, wrote:

There isn’t even one peer-reviewed controlled clinical study of any intentional weight-loss diet that proves that people can be successful at long-term significant weight loss. No commercial program, clinical program, or research model has been able to demonstrate significant long-term weight loss for more than a small fraction of the participants. Given the potential dangers of weight cycling and repeated failure, it is unscientific and unethical to support the continued use of dieting as an intervention for obesity.

Am I saying fat people who want to be healthier should give up? Absolutely not. I’m saying becoming healthier doesn’t require futile attempts to lose weight.

Please look at this graph. (Source.) It shows likelihood of mortality as it relates to weight and four other characteristics: fruit and vegetable intake, tobacco use, exercise, and alcohol. These are sometimes called the “healthy habits.”

On the left side of the graph, fat people who practice no “healthy habits” – smoking, no veggies, immoderate drinking, no exercise – have a much higher mortality risk than so-called “normal” weight people with unhealthy habits (although the “normals” have elevated risk too).

On the right end of the graph, fat people who practice all four healthy habits have a mortality risk that’s just barely higher than their thinner counterparts. More importantly, we can see that fat people who practice all four healthy habits benefit enormously, compared to fat people who don’t. (“Normals” benefit enormously from these healthy habits, too.)

Most fat people can’t permanently lose enough weight to stop being fat. But most fat people can eat more veggies, can not smoke, can limit ourselves to one glass of hootch a day, can add moderate exercise to our lives. These things aren’t always easy, but they are all much more achievable, for most fat people, than stopping being fat.

Achievable advice is better than unachievable advice. There’s a positive way forward for most fat people who want to be healthier – one that’s more likely to work, and less likely to encourage self-hatred, than trying to stop being fat.

One final thought: stigma against being fat may be more harmful than fat itself.

These findings suggest the possibility that the stigma associated with being overweight is more harmful than actually being overweight… Growing evidence suggests that weight bias does not work; it leads to greater morbidity and, now, greater mortality.

(See also.)

Could we get rid of weight bias while still holding the belief that fat people must lose weight? I doubt it. Reducing stigma could do more for fat people’s health than reducing waistlines.

There’s so much more to say (harms of dieting; benefits of a Health At Every Size approach; how HAES can help with disordered eating; etc), but I’m out of space.

I hope this letter finds you happy, well, and socially distanced someplace very cozy.

Best wishes, Barry

Posted in Fat, fat and more fat | 34 Comments  

An open letter to be signed by cisgender women

A group of cisgender women who are trans allies have written an open letter, and are calling on cisgender women to sign it.

We are a group of cisgender women who come from all walks of life and want to make the message as clear as possible: trans people are of no threat to us.

Explanation of what the letter is for

You can read the letter itself, and sign if you want, at this link.

Posted in Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 1 Comment