The Oregonian and Doonesbury. Really?

Kristin Teigen

I’ve not been a fan of the Oregonian for some time, a distaste that has grown with the arrival of publisher Christian Anderson, of Orange County Register renown. This dislike remains, along with their editorial decisions, the focus of their reporting, and their thirst for the blood of seemingly any local public official.

It didn’t, however, have to do with the blatant squashing of ideas. Until now.

This week, the Oregonian pulled the super fabulous comic strip Doonesbury, from Pulitzer Prize winning, Academy Award nominated Garry Trudeau. Why? Well, simply because they don’t like the topic, which happens to be abortion. How very repressive dictator of you, Mr. Anderson. Just because the comic was talking about a constitutionally protected right. Of course, how distasteful.

Beyond these pesky constitutional issues, the justification the Oregonian is using stems from the fact that they don't find the comic “funny.” Interesting that they're in charge of the funny. As a woman who has seen her rights assaulted, abused and generally trotted out for public floggings, I would like to say that I find the idea that the Far Right gets a little ribbing in return a tad humorous. Funnier than, say, hearing a woman called a slut or imagining the reality of transvaginal ultrasound. Can we have just a moment of amusement?

So, in that spirit, here is the first installment of the comic that the Oregonian deems so (oh, dear) offensive to us all.

Comments

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    Mind pointing to the part of the Constitution that protects abortion please?

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        I'm nor sure that's what the Supreme court said and, I don't recall a "right to privacy" in the constitution.

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      Cancel your subscription ...

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          Give me a good reason not to stop reading it. Most of what is in it by the time it hits print has already been reported elsewhere and the local stuff can be had online. I'm a baby boomer and grew up with newspapers in the home; one of my fondest memories is being read the Sunday comics by my dad. I've been a subscriber since I was a student in the 70's and have resisted canceling before (because of other editorial decisions) in favor of expressing my opinions to them because I want print newspapers to be relevant and responsive. This decision speaks loudly to their lack of concern with relevance. And clearly, my opinion and public opinion in general is of little importance to them. The only thing that will make an impact is loss of $$. Sad, so sad. When I called this morning, the woman I spoke with claimed that "circulation is booming" (with an emphasis on "booming") and that in the last two days, out of hundreds of calls, I was only the third person to cancel. Given that their own poll is running more than 96% against the decision, this smacks of desperation.

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            And I should add that most of what is in it by the time it hits print has already been reported elsewhere IN GREATER DEPTH. This Oregonian is a pale shadow of what it once was.

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            You can stop reading it. But that doesn't mean it doesn't maintain itself as the paper of record in Oregon. If it goes unread by locals and read by ppl outside of Oregon, then it's talking about us to the outside world--and we remain blissfully ignorant.

            It's up to us to demand better from them.

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              Feel free to bang your head on that wall. I'm done with a paper that thinks Dave Lister is worthy of regular publication and that we need protection from political satire. Also done with the insanity of repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

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            How do you cancel it? I've been trying to get a hold of someone all day and can't get past the hold music. I can't find a way to do it on line. Am I overlooking something? Do I have to go down there in person (really don't have time for that)?

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    A solid Republican paper like the Statesman Journal has not censored out Doonesbury. I think they are more the corporate Republican than the religious right Republican.

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      When The Big O won't publish something that the sleepy, staid Statesman-Urinal will give a pass on, you know the quality of leadership of Oregon's so-called 'paper of record' is suspect at the very least.

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      The Bridge column is neither funny, nor for kids, yet it's on the comics pages.

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        Why do you assume political cartoons are for kids? I suggest you investigate the history of print. Only in America would someone even suggest something so ahistorical and absurd.

        First link I came across. Start here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma96/puck/part1.html

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      I totally agree, and I am baffled that Peter Bhatia would hold up the paper's decision not to put Doonesbury on the Editorial page as an example of the 'restraint; shown by the O vis-a-vis Doonesbury.

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      I seem to recall they did that after the merger, because of content and a contractual obligation that they are not allowed to reduce the size of the strip at all.

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      Kari, the way I remember it when I was a kid was that I'd open the paper, skip past all the boring-looking news, go straight to the comics, and then skip past all the boring-looking comics. Doonesbury was most definitely one of the ones I would skip.

      I'm guessing most kids have a similar experience as I did: if I occasionally suffered through the not-fun art style of Doonesbury (I found the way Trudeau drew eyes to be particularly irritating), I would discover to my dismay that it was full of the same serious-sounding current events from the news sections I'd been so careful to avoid. And I never understood the jokes.

      So I suspect kids do a pretty effective job of shielding themselves from what are, according to the Oregonian, Garry Trudeau's dangerous thoughts. They do it the same way they protect themselves from the real obscenity of this story, which is the enactment of these vile laws by these vile politicians. They do it by not generally being being great consumers of current events.

      The ones that do read the news can probably also handle reading Doonesbury.

      These days of course my approach to the paper has reversed. I like the boring news parts, and Doonesbury is one of the few comic strips I'll read. Except of course when newspaper editors decide they have to protect me from mention of words like "transvaginal."

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      They tried that already. In the 1980s, when Doonesbury ran his Max Headroom parody, "Ron Headrest." It was in the Opinion section for YEARS after. Then they moved it back to the comics page. Personally, I would want my daughter to read this strip. If kids have "questions" then the parents can answer them. But of course some parents would rather ignore unpleasant discussions...

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    The GOP rabid right has construed that there is not separation of church and state and that they have the right to impose a biblical theocracy on the rest of us. Thanks to Rick Santorum, Rush Limbaugh and the GOP primary we are reminded of what a bunch of fanatical extremists the GOP really are. They not only want take control of the govt. to control a woman's right to choose, but also want to eliminate contraception through these "personhood" laws . Religious liberty has come to mean to the GOP, not the right to practice your religious devotional life, but the right to impose your totalitarian theocratic statism on the whole of society.

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    Never forget that despite all the caterwauling from the right about the "liberal" media, the mainstream media -- including The Oregonian -- is owned by hard-core, corporate capitalists, and as long as the news makes money, everything's jake.

    Doonesbury, on the other hand, threatens to put a bit of heat on The Oregonian and we just can't have that. Exiling Doonesbury was gutless move, and The Oregonian ought to put it back on the editorial or opinion page, where it once lived and where it belongs.

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    Thanks for the post...and I agree with Kari that the paper should just put it on the opinion pages as it is rarely not editorial in nature.

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    There are absolutely no "pesky Constitutional issues" involved here. That is a common and dangerous misrepresentation of the meaning of the First Amendment.

    The Oregonian is a private entity and has the right to publish or not publish what it wishes, just as MSNBC had a right to fire Pat Buchanan, Fox news has a right to present "balanced" opinions, and Kari Chisholm can force us to link our FB identities.

    And readers have a similar right to use this as an indication of the Oregonian's current publication policies, express their dissatisfaction with them, and cancel their subscription if necessary.

    But let's not go overboard with phrases like "repressive dictator". I doubt this is even a product of the new Publisher.

    This is the kind of move made by a milquetoast newspaper that shies away from anything controversial. That's what I find most disappointing, if expected of the O.

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      At no point did I say that the Oregonian was in violation of Constitutional law - but there are issues involved in the topic. Two different things.

      And I wasn't writing a paper for a political theory class, I was writing a blog post, with all attending rhetorical tools attached. Uh, thanks for your critique all the same...yeah.

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    Thank you, Oregonian, for giving me perfect material for my lecture on media literacy today.

    Wouldn't want any actual public debate to take place in a supposed public forum like a statewide newspaper. We can always rely on our cultural authorities to decide what our fragile minds shouldn't be exposed to.

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    The Daily Astorian, our weekday paper for Clatsop County, is running the strip this week. No disclaimer, no warning, no apologies. The O needs to grow a pair.

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    In general I feel that the O is a good newspaper re: the corporate media in general, and I have a sub--though I know too that trucking all that newsprint around can't go on forever. But I'm disappointed that while many small town papers, even in the bible belt, are said to be running the anti-abortion parody, the O is censoring it. And worse, it's censoring under cover by having no announcement posted at the Doonsbury strip that they are running instead. Also, I thought the O said they were going to run the real Doonsbury somewhere on line. Is that happening?

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    The "0" (formerly the "O") is running the original strip on their (awful) Web site. (Children NEVER use the Internets. ;) At their site they have a poll: "What do you think of our decision (to censor Doonesbury)?" At last count, over 96% disapprove. http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonianeditors/2012/03/read_this_weeks_doonesbury_onl.html

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    This would not involve the same editor of the "O" who just died under ignominious circumstances?

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      My daughter is 23 years old and the thought that a 63 year-old 1%'er would take advantage of her economic circumstances, in exchange for sexual favors, sends chills up my spine.

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    Jim, Thanks for the link to the O's blog. I agree that it would be ok to move D. to the ed. page, but what they're doing now is evasive and not ok. Today I got a real reason to end my sub: for the second day in a row, the O, though wrapped in plastic, was soaking wet. It usta come wrapped and dry. Could it be that lousey delivery will be what finally brings down print newspapers?

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    Someone please tell me how to cancel it without having to stay on hold for hours or go downtown. Is there a way I'm not finding on-line? Tried every chance I had today and could not get a hold of a human.

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    This position by GOP newspapers like the O is a statement about their values and why I'm not a Republican- Corporations are people, and women are not.

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