Cartoon: How Free Speech Was Saved


My new cartoon on Everyday Feminism! Please go check it out.

Some comments about this cartoon (originally posted on my Patreon page).

The modern “alt-right” – those conservatives who are now, among other things, running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – consider it an infraction on “free speech” for anything they like to be criticized, even while they use online bullying campaigns to shut up anyone without elephant-hide skin. It’s vicious and hypocritical, and it’s affected a few people I know.

Unfortunately, there are some on the far left whose behavior is similar. But 1) those folks on the left aren’t claiming to be doing all this to protect free speech, and 2) those folks on the left are marginal, while the alt-right now has a major party presidential candidate.

Artwise, this is one of my standard approaches, but there are a few things I’m doing differently. First of all, I tried my best to make the main anti-feminist a physically attractive specimen, which was a drawing challenge to me – my natural style is to draw everyone a bit grotesque.

Secondly, the “panel within panels” approach used in panel 5 and panel 8 is not my usual. I think it works, but man, that’s a lot of extra drawing. :-)

And third, I tried to give the colors the look of a faded old comic book. Not for any symbolic reason, I just like the way those faded colors look.

If you like my political cartoons, help make them by supporting me on Patreon!


Panel 1

(This panel shows only the title of the strip, in large, cheerful letters on a blue background.)

Title: How Free Speech Was Saved

Panel 2

(Two men, in their 20s or 30s, are in a  coffee shop. One of them, a handsome, muscular blonde man with a square  jaw and wearing a sleeveless tee, is looking angrily at something on  his tablet. The other, a scruffier looking man in a collared blue shirt,  is sitting at a table with his laptop, but looking up in alarm.)

Handsome: The feminists are attacking free speech!

Scruff: Oh no!

Panel 3

(A closer shot of the two guys as they stare at Handsome’s tablet.)

Handsome: Look, this one’s calling out sexism in a video game!

Scruff: Feminist criticism? But that’s censorship!

Panel 4

(Handsome dramatically gestures, looking up and waving fists in the air, as Scruff turns to his laptop.)

Handsome: This injustice cannot stand!

Scruff: I’ll get on social media!

Panel 5

(This panel is divided into four  sub-panels, showing four different men in different locations, all  reading something on their computer or tablet and yelling.)

All Four Guys: Attack!

Panel 6

(A 30-something woman in a black  sleeveless tee sits in front of her laptop, a cup of coffee on the  table, and looks shocked at what’s on her computer screen.)

Various Messages from Computer: Step in a hole and die! Rape! I know where you live! Hate! SJW scum! You are pure @#$&! Die!

Woman: Yipes!

Panel 7

(The same woman, now crying a little, types a message into her computer.)

Woman: Dear friends: For the time being, I’m shutting down all my social media accounts…

Panel 8

(Another panel that’s been divided  into four sub-panels, each showing a different woman in a different  location. They are all looking at their Internet devices, and all  thinking the same thought.)

All Four Women (thought): Look at what they did to her… Maybe I shouldn’t post online.

Panel 9

(Back to the two guys, who have their  arms crossed and are looking happy and prideful, as they talk to a third  man, a hippie-looking dude who is very impressed.)

Handsome: And that’s how we saved free speech!

Hippie: Wow! You guys are heroes!

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Civility & norms of discourse, Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc.. Bookmark the permalink. 

6 Responses to Cartoon: How Free Speech Was Saved

  1. 1
    Chris says:

    So this thread about the cartoon on Twitter has been going on for a while, and I’ve still seen no substantive objections to the cartoon. (I hope you don’t mind that I’ve invited Humble Talent to continue the discussion here; perhaps without the limits of 140 characters he can marshal a more coherent argument.)

    Barry, do you find it common for people to object to your cartoons with some variation of “This doesn’t cover all complexities of the issue?” I’ve noticed that in a lot of the criticism against your cartoons. Do you find this a common critique of other political cartoonists? I had never seen it until I started following yours, but then I’m not familiar with the world of cartooning.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Hi, Chris! Yes, I’ve been reading that discussion on Twitter; thanks for defending my cartoon. :-)

    I think it’s a common criticism of political cartoons – and it’s a hard-to-resist criticism, honestly, since most political cartoons (mine included) are more about “get in, make a point, get out” than about nuance.

  3. 3
    desipis says:

    That’s why I tend to prefer the abstract & metaphorical political cartoons, as they they only imply an insight or partial perspective. A narrative based cartoon, such as this one, implies a complete representation of the issue, even though it’s content only provides one-side of the story.

  4. 4
    Chris says:

    I don’t see how a narrative cartoon implies a “complete representation of the issue” any more than a long editorial does. It’s a political cartoon–of course it only provides one side of the story. I don’t see that objection as really saying anything important. I’d rather hear what critics think *should* have been included in the cartoon that isn’t, or shouldn’t have been included in the cartoon that is.

  5. 5
    Mandolin says:

    More kittens.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    Well, that goes without saying.