Doonesbury's transvaginal ultrasound/Republican state house strips


I missed this back in March 2012, but it bears re-visiting. Here's a series of Doonesbury strips that some newspapers refused to run in spring 2012. The strips criticize Republican state legislatures' plans to require transvaginal probes for women contemplating abortion, with special emphasis on Texas governor Rick Perry.

Trudeau wrote: "Ninety-nine percent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes. To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of 'limited government' is appalling. "In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women's health clinics all over the state, leaving 300,000 women without the contraceptive services that prevent abortions in the first place. Insanity."

Trudeau is dismayed by the newspaper reaction. "I write the strip to be read, not removed. And as a practical matter, many more people will see it in the comics page than on the editorial page," he wrote.

"I don't mean to be disingenuous. Obviously there's some profit to controversy, especially for a satirist. If debate is swirling around a particular strip, and if its absence creates blowback, then I'm contributing to the public conversation in a more powerful way. But I don't get up in the morning and scheme about how to antagonise editors. Some of these folks have supported me for decades."

Oh, Texas... This is why I want to leave you. (via Reddit)

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  1. The only way we’re going ever, *someday* get past this kind of thing is to recognize that we are in the era of doublespeak and keep reporting it, keep fighting for what’s right.  Republicans are for “small government” but want to kill health care for all, keep fat cats rich, surveil the public and invade women’s vaginas in God’s name.  Democrats are for “peace and freedom and more responsive government” but want to retain the right to tax you heavily, engage in drone warfare and unchecked domestic surveillance.  It’s doublespeak.  To get around it, all we can do is keep exposing these weirdoes and don’t let up.  Things are better than they were 10 years ago, even, because we can see the stuff on the Internet and diligent souls are digging it up.  In 10 years from now, maybe we will be even another increment along.

    1. For the record, wanting “small government” and to “kill health care for all” are actually not ideologically opposed; and are Democrats are for “peace and freedom”… sort of?

      1.  I dunno?  Which Kool-aid are you drinking?  The Red one, the Blue one, the Black one… or… none?

    2.  There’s a lot of things I don’t like about the Democrats these days – drone warfare and domestic surveillance are prime examples of badness.

      But “tax you heavily”?  I don’t think you can be for universal health care and against some increase in taxes. Or massive slashing of other programs.

      I don’t think anyone, even Democrats, favor taxation for the sake of taxation.  If you think money is being wasted, then by all means campaign against that waste.  But generally taxation is a symptom of spending, often on things that seem good.

      1. I can make a coherent argument for “taxation for the sake of taxation”.  It comes from systems dynamics theory. Here goes.

        The U.S./global economic system is in a runaway condition, a positive feedback loop: the ultra-wealthy keep getting richer, which increases their influence, which helps make them richer … and it’s well past the point where anyone could credibly claim that these gains are not made at the expense of the rest of us.

        Increasing their taxes would apply negative feedback, which could help the system exit its runaway state.

        1. It’s a good analysis, but if it’s in a runaway state, what is the mathematical limit?  Do you think there is no limit to the amount of taxation?  Could they conceivably take it all?  If they did, wouldn’t people resort to not working and go back to barter for survival?  I think there is a practical limit on the equation, but I don’t know where it is.  50% of my gross pay?  60? 70? 90?  How would we find out the line in the sand demarcating Revolution?

          1. Some of your questions make no sense to me, so I think you’ve misunderstood my comment. I’m suggesting that by acting as a brake on the concentration of wealth, taxation can be a public good in and of itself.  The details of an actual policy — thresholds, rates, exemptions — might be interesting, but they’re not really relevant to the thought experiment.

          2.  I’m suggesting an optimal cost/benefit ratio, and questioning how we’d figure that out?

          3. Instead of reinventing the taxation wheel, just reimplement tax tables that were in place during the 1950’s, and adjust for inflation.  The high tax rates encouraged the rich to invest in their own businesses, and paid US war debt and for the infrastructure that is crumbling today.  I’d be all for tougher penalties for humans and corporations that get caught hiding money overseas, too.

      2. The
        only way we’re going ever, *someday* get past this kind of thing is to
        recognize that we are in the era of doublespeak and keep reporting it,
        keep fighting for what’s right.  Republicans are for “small government”
        but want to kill health care for all, keep fat cats rich, surveil the
        public and invade women’s vaginas in God’s name.  Democrats are for
        “peace and freedom and more responsive government” but want to retain
        the right to tax you heavily, engage in drone warfare and unchecked
        domestic surveillance.  It’s doublespeak.  To get around it, all we can
        do is keep exposing these weirdoes and don’t let up.  Things are better
        than they were 10 years ago, even, because we can see the stuff on the
        Internet and diligent souls are digging it up.  In 10 years from now,
        maybe we will be even another increment along.

        Type your comment here.

        1.  Sorry, are Swedes rioting in the streets or something?  My impression was standards of living in Sweden are quite high.  Like higher than in the US on average.

        2. I live in California — my check does look like a Swedish paycheck (without any of the real benefits that my Swedish cousins enjoy).

        3.  If we had the all the great policies, high wealth/low poverty, safety net etc. etc. of  Sweden I would gladly welcome it!

        4. Beyond lame.
          You do realize that living in an ever-connected and complex society requires that we PAY for things to maintain that, right?
          Among other things.
          Lay that European Socialism shit on people that voted for Rick Perry.

  2. “But I don’t get up in the morning and scheme about how to antagonise editors.”

    Rub it in, why don’t ya.  I suppose some folks are just gifted that way.

  3. Right, as we all know, DOING a thing is not NEARLY as bad as TALKING about a thing.  If women would just be quieter all these problems would just disappear!

    1. Repub theory:  If women would just be quieter barefoot and pregnant all these problems would just disappear!

      1. Exactly! “Know their place.” This was all so much easier back before women could vote, you know? You never saw these kinds of problems then!

        1. I hear ya, brother.
          Just look at this chart that displays the amount of “bad stuff” that has happened since the ratification of the 19th amendment — just look at it.

  4. I’ve been giving thought to the question of when rape jokes (and this strip is arguably a rape joke) are appropriate.  The conclusion I’ve come to is that, in the context of rape, Juvenalian satire, which doesn’t so much make light of horrible things as it ridicules attitudes that trivialize horrible things, can be appropriate, whereas schadenfreude, which portrays horrible things happening to other people as innately amusing, is generally inappropriate.  This strip clearly falls into the former category.

  5. some newspapers refused to run

    But the media’s so “liberal”. They should have been clamoring for stuff like this…

    1. Their refusal to run these strips was part of a nefarious plot to draw attention to them. I would suspect Lucky Ducky was behind this if he weren’t affiliated with another strip.

  6. If we’re going to require transvaginal ultrasounds, I think we need to be damn sure the probes are properly functioning.

    I suggest each one be calibrated by being jammed up the ass of every legislature who voted for them.

    This act would not, of course, simply be to give these unconscionable patriarchal fucks a chance to experience the shame and discomfort they are mandating. While they’re up yonder the probes can be used to check the lawmaker’s prostate for incipient tumors, and see if having their head crammed up there is causing any issues.

    1.  Indeed.  Transrectal ultrasounds should be mandatory for anyone who imposes something like that on anyone else.

      1. You’re overlooking the possibility that some of the legislators who’ve pushed transvaginal ultrasounds might actually enjoy that sort of rectal stimulation.

        Not that I’m knocking it if that’s their thing, but, if it is, these legislators need to understand that there’s a difference between consenting to have something shoved into an orifice because you enjoy it and requiring others to have a similar procedure because you’re a sick, twisted fuck whose only pleasure comes from humiliating others.

        1. It’s not about joy and humiliation, it’s about using the state to institute patriarchy.

  7. Part and parcel to why newspapers are dying. Honestly, reading Doonesbury was the last and final reason I kept reading the local paper, Then I realized I could just read Doonesbury online… 

  8. And the conservatives can’t figure out why they’re losing the “youth vote”.
    Christ, the only reason anyone with an IQ over 75 would vote for a conservative politician is that they (mistakenly for the most part) think that it will benefit them financially. 
    Combine that with the ones self-applying the 2nd grade level ideas called “Libertarianism” and it will probably spell doom for the lot of them for quite some time.
    Which, in reality is not a good thing because we need a functioning push and pull republic with people working and compromising for the greater good.

    1.  I’m Ok with a push and pull between sane and more sane, instead of the current push-pull between dangerously shortsighted and bugnutz crazy.

  9. In my opinion, any doctor that actually complies with such legislation is a scumbag.

    1. Any physician that complies with such laws should be stripped of his or her license for gross violation of ethics.

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