8 May 2012

Strange what you read in the funny papers

I wrote a while back about cartoonist Brooke McEldowney and his current storyline on the comic strip 9 Chickweed Lane.  When the young woman Edda found herself unexpectedly pregnant and was struggling with the idea,   Mr. McEldowney started receiving letters demanding that Edda should abort, immediately.  In response, he issued a smackdown to those who expressed that opinion, stating that it is his job to write humour about flawed people, not morality tales about insufferable ones.  The storyline has continued through many twists and turns.  Edda gay roommate forcefully told her "Don't you dare!" when she said "if" she had the baby, and then pleaded with her to keep it, saying "you couldn't possibly not have your own baby...?"  Edda's answer of "no, I couldn't," is remarkably ambiguous, a negative response to a double negative question, and is left open for the moment.

In yesterday's and today's version of the strip, McEldowney has returned to those who have demanded Edda have an abortion post haste, and spoofed them by repeating their own words. Both are worthy of repetition,

Female:  Mrs Kiesl... I thought you had moved away to Europe.

Mrs. Kiesl (Edda's Grandmother):  I did, but I'm back helping a young relative with a decision.... She's having to adjust to the idea of an unplanned pregnancy.

F:  Oh well, she should terminate it.  It's her choice...one women didn't have in your day.

Mrs K: She knows she has options...and thank you for reminding me I've had my day.

F: I'm telling you she should terminate it.  That is her right, and it should be exercised.  Clearly, you don't understand what I mean by "choice".

Mrs. K.:  Clearly, you don't understand what the dictionary means by "choice."
In today's strip, Mrs. K.'s daughter Juliette, Edda's mother, herself the result of an unplanned pregnancy, comes upon the conversation.
Juliette, to female:  What's up?

F: I've been debating with an old lady whose head is buried in the past.

Mrs. K: That would be me.

F: I don't think you were receptive to the idea that in your day you should have had the choice to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.

J:  And that would be me.

F: (leaving) ...This whole conversation is antediluvian.

J: (to her mother): Did I neglect to say thank you?

Mrs K.:  It's your choice.
Is Mr. McEldowney Pro life?  I don't know, though I doubt it.  The point of the first strip is choice as in choice, not choice as in must.  Still, he has created, for now, in his own medium and in his own way, a powerful statement.

Two final observations:  1; McEldowney has chosen, for now, to spoof the pro-choice crowd, not the pro-life crowd.  I can't remember the last time I saw that done in a newspaper.  Unfortunately, it can only be done in the funny pages; that is, as a joke;.  and 2., It seems the rabid pro-choice crowd is so annoying, they even manage to irritate those who more or less agree with them.

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