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Jesus, Freddie Mercury and Gay Marriage

Following the big news events last week surrounding gay marriage, we received lots of great cartoons, from both the right and the left, about whether gay marriage should be legal in this country (check out our complete collection here).

Mr. Fish is one of my favorite cartoonists and probably the farthest left of any cartoonist on our site; his gay marriage cartoon included the unlikely paring of Jesus Christ and former Queen frontman Freddie Mercury:

I asked Mr. Fish to write up his thoughts about the cartoon, and here’s what he had to say:

The cartoon was drawn in reaction to the vote in North Carolina approving a constitutional ban on same sex marriage. It took me a full day to work through my rage before figuring out the cartoon.

Like so many other progressive cartoonists, my initial instinct was to attack all Southerns in the United States and to classify them as backwoods hicks crippled by a history marred by prejudice and intolerance and legislative buffoonery. Not wanting to join the chorus of such vitriol, though I didn’t find it at all disagreeable, I decided to illustrate the hypocrisy that I heard when listening to those in support of the ban who insisted that their decision was Biblically motivated.

While I don’t believe in the Gospel and think that the subjective nature of Scripture allows for innumerable interpretations and conflicting readings, I do appreciate the historical significance of there having been a big-mouthed radical hell-raiser named Jesus Christ living in Bronze Age Palestine who got in trouble with the political and religious elite for saying that the poor and the sick and the homeless and the misunderstood minorities and the unjustly vilified riffraff were NOT worthless human beings.

It seemed to me that such a committed revolutionary thinker, if presented with contemporary culture, might tend towards acceptance of our glorious differences as human beings rather than condemnation.

What are your thoughts about the cartoon? Either comment below, or drop us a line on our Facebook page.

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Classic Cartoon on Media Bias

For those of you that think so-called “media bias” is something new and unique to our 24-hour media landscape, check out this classic cartoon about the difference in coverage a Teddy Roosevelt meeting received.

The cartoon was drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist John T. McCutcheon, who is known as the “Dean of American Cartoonists”, and appeared in the Chicago Tribune on May 13, 1912.

As you can see, the more things change, the more they stay the same…

(click image to enlarge)
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Iranian Cartoonist Sentenced to 25 Lashings

There is disturbing news to report from Iran, where cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh has been sentenced to 25 lashings for drawing a member of parliament wearing a football jersey. That’s right – he’s going to be whipped for drawing a cartoon.

While it’s nothing new for repressive governments to crack down on press freedoms and punish cartoonists, in Iran this incident seems like an escalation not only because of the harsh punishment, but because Shokraiyeh’s cartoon didn’t have anything to do with religious issues.

Even more unsettling is that under Chapter 27 of the “Islamic Penal Code of Iran,” anyone who “wrongfully” libels through print media can be subjected to “74 lashes” and imprisonment from one month to a year.

For more insight, I turned to my good friend Nik Kowsar, an Iranian cartoonist now living in Washington, D.C. who was imprisoned for depicting Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi as a crocodile:


When writing about cartooning in Iran, I always think back to the cartoon I drew that literally changed my life. Though I had not directly portrayed an Ayatollah, by drawing a crying crocodile as the main enemy of the press and using a name that rhymed with the name of that powerful cleric, it was obvious I was messing with the most powerful class in Iran.

Cartoonists had been told not to draw Ayatollahs. Even though the constitution is silent about poking fun at clerics, judges have the power to interpret the law as they wish. By making fun of the Islamic dress code, in their point of view, you are insulting the religion, and insulting the religion is a crime based on the Islamic Penal Code. Many have lost their lives over the years by simply making fun of some symbols or making jokes about the prophet and the Imams.

In 2009, I asked (via email) Grand Ayatollah Montazeri (who died months later) if based on his interpretation of Islam, was it OK to draw Grand Ayatollahs in cartoons or not. He said that as long as you are not insulting a person, there are no objections to drawing that individual. This was sort of a “Fatwa” (a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law), though I had only asked for his opinion.

Still, no one inside Iran dares draw an Ayatollah, and until a few days ago, it was totally OK to draw cartoons of non-cleric officials. Now, Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokrayeh has been sentenced to 25 lashes because he drew a caricature of Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, a member of the Iranian parliament, wearing a soccer jersey.

One thing interesting about Shokrayeh’s cartoon is the dark skinned mark on Lotfi Ashtiani’s forehead. In Islamic countries, this is the sign of “praying too much”. Rubbing the forehead on the ground during prayer for years and years does this. You can see it on many Islamist leaders’ faces.

Last week, while attending UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day’s conference in Tunis, I noticed the Tunisian prime minister had been praying too too much. A Tunisian cartoonist present at the conference, drawing live on a pad, intentionally drew the dark mark on the prime minister’s forehead. Including this interesting religious symbol in his cartoon might have been seen by the Iranian court as insulting.

Now, Iranian cartoonists who are living outside of Iran, in solidarity with their colleague, are drawing caricatures of the insulted MP Lotfi Ashtian. Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani, who was imprisoned for his cartoons in 2006, has invited other cartoonists to draw in support of Mahmoud Shokrayeh.

In one of the cartoons, the cartoonist suggests that Mahmoud Shokrayeh’s caricature looks much better than the MP, and the MP should be lashed because of making fun of the cartoon.

It is important to note that if the ruling takes place and the judgement is not set aside, any cartoonist in Iran will have to fear at least 25 lashes on his back if he happens to insult public official.


I had a couple of questions for Nik. Why did Shokraiyeh draw the MP in a soccer jersey? The MP was interested in bringing soccer clubs to the city of Arak. Nik said, “Imagine if LA Lakers move from LA to SF and turn into SF Lakers.”

I asked Nik how the lashings work and if Shokraiyeh was in prison pending his punishment. Nik responded to say that Shokraiyeh was not imprisoned and the lashings are done by appointment; Shokraiyeh will be called and given a time to come in to get his lashings, then he can leave (kind of like a trip to the dentist for a root canal, I guess).

Here are some of the cartoons drawn by Iranian cartoonists in solidarity with Mahmoud Shokrayeh over the lashing decision:

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Does Biden Make Obama Look Bad on Gay Marriage?

On yesterday’s “Meet the Press,” Vice President Joe Biden told host David Gregory that he is “absolutely comfortable with… men marrying men, women marrying women.” Biden gave credit to the TV show “Will & Grace”, which featured numerous openly-gay characters, for helping change his position.

This puts him at odds with President Obama, who supports gay rights but has said repeatedly that he believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. He has also noted that his views on the matter are evolving.

Here are some cartoons about the contentious issue. What do you think – should same-sex couples be allowed to marry each other? Comment below or drop a note on our Facebook page.

Jimmy Margulies / The Record (click to view more cartoons by Margulies)
Chris Weyant / The Hill (click to view more cartoons by Weyant)
Rob Tornoe / (click to view more cartoons by Tornoe)
Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune (click to view more cartoons by Bagley)
David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star (click to view more cartoons by Fitzsimmons)
Andy Singer / (click to view more cartoons by Singer)
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The Case of Chinese Activist Chen Guangcheng

There is a tense international situation developing in China surrounding blind activist Chen Guangcheng. Chen, who served time in prison for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations being done to comply with China’s one-child policy, escaped from house arrest early this week and was being given refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Here’s the first cartoon I drew on the subject:

Once the Chinese government found out about U.S. involvement, they demanded that the U.S. apologize for meddling in its affairs, and according to reports, threatened the safety of Chen’s family. According to Chen, U.S. officials promised that at least one representative would stay with him at the hospital where he was being treated for an injury he received while escaping. But once he was brought to the hospital room, they all left, and now have no access to the activist.

The New York Times reported the Obama administration was “exposed to criticism from Republicans and human rights groups that it had rushed to resolve a delicate human rights case so that it would not overshadow other matters on the bilateral agenda,” such as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs and China’s currency and trade policies.

So here is my new cartoon on the incident:

Chen now says he wants to leave China as soon as possible. “My fervent hope is that it would be possible for me and my family to leave for the U.S. on Hillary Clinton’s plane,” he told The Daily Beast.

What do you think we should do? Comment below or drop a line on our Facebook page.

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Is This The End For Rupert Murdoch?

The fallout from a phone hacking scandal that took down the popular News of the World newspaper in England continues to cloud the future of New Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch.

A UK parliamentary committee have declared the media mogul “unfit” to run his global media empire, which includes Fox News, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Think he’ll remain as the head of News Corporation? Here are five great cartoons about the future of Rupert Murdoch from some of the world’s top cartoonists…

Loujie / Cagle Cartoons (click to view more cartoons by Loujie)
Mike Keefe / Cagle Cartoons (click to view more cartoons by Keefe)
Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen (click to view more cartoons by Cardow)
Tim Eagan / (click to view more cartoons by Eagan)
John Cole / Scranton Times-Tribune (click to view more cartoons by Cole)
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Five Cartoons About Obama’s Victory Lap

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, critics of the President feel it’s inappropriate for him to take a victory lap. They’re especially miffed at Obama for suggesting that his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, wouldn’t have taken the same course of action.

[ View our complete collection of Osama bin Laden Anniversary cartoons ]

John McCain, recently said, “You Know the Thing About Heroes? They Don’t Brag.” Romney, when asked by a reporter if he would have made the call to launch the raid, said “of course” he would have. “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.”

Here are a handful of cartoons about Obama’s “bragging rights.”

What do you think? Comment below or drop us a note on our Facebook page

Daryl Cagle / (click to view more cartoons by Cagle)
Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune (click to view more cartoons by Bagley)
Osama Hajjaj / Jordan, (click to view more cartoons by Osama)
Joep Bertrams / The Netherlands, (click to view more cartoons by Bertrams)
Nate Beeler / Columbus Dispatch (click to view more cartoons by Beeler)


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Cartoonist Criticizes Obama for Politicizing Trayvon Martin Murder

Leave it to our conservative rabble-rouser Gary McCoy to rile up our readers yet again. Fresh off the heels of his Sandra Fluke cartoon controversy, McCoy’s most recent cartoon calls out the President for politicizing the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin…

I’ve asked Gary to write something about the cartoon, and here’s what he sent me:

And so it goes… I do a cartoon on President Obama politicizing the Trayvon Martin death, and thousands of spastic, hyperventilating leftists reached for their inhalers in unison, collectively raising CO2 levels, and melting the polar ice caps. All the while I celebrate their anger sitting in my comfy arm chair and watching the ice melt in my glass of scotch, with a warm, smug grin on my face.

Why is it that my conservative editorializing rubs liberals raw like Rosie O’Donnell’s bicycle shorts? What we have here is our country’s most narcissistic president ever, unable to keep from making every major story about him if at all possible (unless it’s high gas prices, a still sluggish economy, high unemployment, etc.). The Trayvon Martin story is about a black teen that was tragically shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Those are about the only facts we know for certain. The shooter, Mr. Zimmerman has not been tried in any court of law to have been found guilty of anything. As of now, we do not know if he was justifiably defending himself or acting outside the rule of law. Yet every Supreme Court Justice wannabe is posting with certainty like this is the next Dred Scott case. The bizarreness of Obama stating that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon is nearly unfathomable. Yes, Mr. President, we know you’re black (half black technically), but really, what’s your point? Mr. “let’s all come together, and not make race an issue” can’t seem to keep from waving his giant, novelty, double-laminated race card whenever he smells political opportunism wafting in the air.

I can always tell when my critics have no substantive argument to make in their defense, for that’s when the shallow charges of “horrible cartoonist” and “racist” start to fly. The latter of which is a hilarious label on a guy who married outside his race and has a bi-racial child. But I guess when you’re tutoring a kindergarten class, you’ve got to leave the slide rule at home and bring the crayons instead.

Here are what some readers had to say about the cartoon:

Betty C.: “Don’t see any humor in this cartoon! Disgusting to say the least about the content!”

Debbie C.: “This is a racist hateful cartoon…there is freedom in this country to be able to say things like this, however, this is a bad bad cartoon.”

e-socrates: “Oh no, politically incorrect speech! Time for the jackbooted boycott vigilantes to put a stomp to this! Go get ’em Blackshirts!”

Bridget R.: “I’ll play devils advocate and ask anyone to give me an example of other presidents talking in the media about a local murder case. I’ll wait.”

Tom H.: “This is one of the most disgusting cartoons I’ve ever seen. The cartoonist should be deeply ashamed of himself.”

Nomorenicksleft: “If Zimmerman had only ordered a drone strike on Trayvon without due process, Obama would have rubberstamped it.”

WhiteDawg: “Breitbart was a despicable individual, but at least he came up with some of his own material. McCoy is just trying to illustrate Rush Limbaugh’s thoughts as offensively as possible.”

What do you think of the cartoon? Let us know by commenting below, or leaving a note on our Facebook page.


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Revisiting ObamaCare

Today, the Supreme Court begins three days of oral arguments to decide, once and for all, if President Obama’s health care reform law is constitutional.

Since its passage in 2010 on strict party lines, all Republicans have talked about is repealing ObamaCare. Every GOP Presidential candidate has made it a central plank of their campaign (they’re a little more vague about what they’d replace it with).

Obviously, cartoonists have been weighing in on health care reform for years. Here are some relevant cartoons I plucked from our archives…

Chris Weyant / The Hill (click to view more cartoons by Weyant)
Eric Allie / Cagle Cartoons (click to view more cartoons by Allie)
Jimmy Margulies / The Record (click to view more cartoons by Margulies)
John Cole / Scranton Times-Tribune (click to view more cartoons by Cole)
Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune (click to view more cartoons by Bagley)
Jeff Parker / Florida Today (click to view more cartoons by Parker)
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McCoy Responds to Critics of Controversial Fluke Cartoon

Last week, following Rush Limbaugh’s now famous comments about Sandra Fluke, our own conservative cartoonist Gary McCoy (view McCoy’s cartoons here) drew a controversial cartoon that has been widely criticized. I’ve posted some of the harsh comments we’ve received about the cartoon.

After receiving volumes of hate mail and some death threats, Gary wrote to me to explain the cartoon:

It’s my job to opine on the issues of the day. I’ll admit, the cartoon in question hit a little harder than I usually do, but here we had a 30 year old woman’s rights advocate, who will make on average $160,000/year after graduation, stating that she had to spend $3,000 over the last two years on birth control, when a trip to her local Planned Parenthood would keep her supplied for free. Or for a few bucks more a day, any local drug store would meet her needs. And on top of it, she thinks that a Jesuit university, which she enrolled in knowing full well that their private insurance doesn’t pay for contraceptives, as it goes against their religious morals, should abandon their beliefs just so she can advance the Obama health care plan, for which she also advocates.

Sandra Fluke side-by-side with McCoy's cartoon (via

And one major detail that the press, and most of the people spewing hate at me didn’t bother to notice or acknowledge, is that the woman in my cartoon A) doesn’t even look like Sandra Fluke (According to many of the people who critiqued me), and B) Isn’t even labeled Sandra Fluke. So basically, it’s a generic woman, saying what many ultra-liberal feminists have said before, specifically that government should stay out of their wombs, but still provide them with free birth control, which is the definition of hypocrisy.

On top of it, many who wrote me said the statement in the cartoon isn’t even something that Miss Fluke has said. So there you have it, a woman not labeled Sandra Fluke, who doesn’t look like Sandra Fluke, saying something that Sandra Fluke has apparently not said. Yet, I’m hit with everything from being labeled a misogynist, to personal threats for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut”. This sort of knee-jerk reactionism makes the Rockettes look like a Tennessee Waltz dance act.

One more thing… it struck me as deliciously ironic that many of the tolerant, compassionate liberals who took issue with my supposedly portraying Miss Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute”, and with my lack of civility, did so by calling me every vulgar name in the book and making death threats against me (The latter emails go on file at my local police department).

But to summarize, I have the right, and the duty to editorialize, through my cartoons, on any subject currently in the news. That’s what I did. And I won’t back down from intimidation and threats from the same liberals who honor a vow of silence when it comes to denouncing Bill Maher for calling Sarah Palin a c*nt.