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Throughout the year, I get questions and comments from readers that I can't always address right away. For this week's column, I'll take on a few. No charge for additional snark.

Why are so many of the editorial cartoons printed on the Voices and editorial pages critical of the president?

Well, that's kinda what political cartoonists do. They take a current issue and, often using hyperbole and satire, put their spin on it. Doing that coherently in a small space takes a lot of talent and intelligence ... and pretty thick skin to withstand abuse from those who disagree with them (even more vociferously lately, it sometimes seems). There are many reasons I admire John Deering (and other cartoonists), such as his sense of humor, whimsy and hilarious texts, but his polite reaction to his critics is something I aspire to. Others could learn a lot from him.

Every president faces criticism in cartoons, editorials, columns, and from fellow officials and the public--that's part of the job and always has been. Thomas Nast--probably most famous as the creator of the modern Santa Claus, but also credited with helping take down Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall machine with his cartoons--and Herblock, who skewered presidents on both sides of the aisle and coined the word "Mc-Carthyism," would have a field day with our current president. When the damage is mostly self-inflicted, he really shouldn't complain so much.

Another reason is that it's actually hard to find noncritical cartoons on this particular president, even from reliably conservative cartoonists like Michael Ramirez and Lisa Benson, and that's a problem that's not unique to the Democrat-Gazette. Sure, there are a few cartoonists out there (Ben Garrison, most notably) who lavish nothing but praise on the president, but they aren't included in our syndication contracts (and need I remind you, it is not the job of the media to tote water for any official). Out of the contracted cartoonists, we publish only a small percentage of their cartoons, discarding some for being too harsh, too "inside baseball," or just too out there to understand.

I admit I have a soft spot for the "out there" cartoons. Laughing at the absurd is much less stressful than crying.

Why won't you print my letters, you [expletive]?

I think you just answered yourself there, friend--threats, bullying and name-calling will get you nowhere. That and you probably: threatened another letter writer or called him an idiot; stated something as fact that isn't (allowances are made for obvious satire); don't actually exist; sent something far too long to be printed (aim for no longer than 300 words); just had a letter printed; etc. Then there are the people who never reply to requests for publication.

But keep thinking I'm evil. Well, I am, kinda, but it's the fun kind, not the hellfire kind.

Speaking of evil, why are you so anti-Christian, pro-abortion and never-Trump?

Uhhhh ... I'm a Christian and have been since I was 12. No one's letters are discarded because of their religious inclination, but if those letters are essentially lists of Bible verses or contain inflammatory/incorrect information, they will be. The Voices page is not Bible study, but there are still an awful lot of religious letters printed.

I'm not pro-abortion, but pro-choice. While I personally would not have an abortion unless absolutely necessary, I can't in good conscience make that choice for other people through government decree (that would be the libertarian in me). I know people who've had to have an abortion (nearly all for medical reasons, as in the mother and/or the baby wouldn't survive), and it was not a decision taken lightly. If someone makes that choice, I would much rather it be legal (and rare ... and it is becoming rarer) and done by medical professionals than to hear stories of tragic back-alley abortions. My mom's generation had enough of that.

As for the president, I can only judge him on his actions, and I admit I'm not a fan, especially when he continually attacks members of my profession for simply doing their jobs. However, my personal feelings here don't matter. I'm more than happy to print letters from Trump supporters but, just like everyone else, they have to follow the rules and can't state falsities as fact without attributing them to the source, and should respond when asked if we can publish the letter. I'm not a mind-reader.

I do like to mess with minds, though ...

Another comment I get occasionally is along the lines of: "Enough with all the word-nerdiness!" To that I say nope.

I cannot change who I am: a word nerd. There are enough fellow nerds out there who want me to talk more about words, so objection overruled. For those people, I have my own request.

As I mentioned last week, Lake Superior State University will, sometime around New Year's, release its latest list of words and phrases recommended for banishment. What (not who ... no people, please) would you like to see go away? Let me know at the address below, and you may show up in a future column.

I know. It will be hard to contain the excitement.


Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at Email her at

Editorial on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Readers ask


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  • 23cal
    December 5, 2018 at 7:30 a.m.

    Keep up the good work, Brenda.

  • GeneralMac
    December 5, 2018 at 9:01 a.m.

    After giving us your pro-abortion views, you sound exactly like Clarke "Weasel" Tucker.

  • Foghorn
    December 5, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.

    I would like to see the word ‘closure’ stricken. It means absolutely nothing. It implies that tragic or traumatic events have some kind of expiration date, which they do not. Hate that word.

  • GeneralMac
    December 5, 2018 at 9:44 a.m.

    "and it was not a decision taken lightly"

    Yet this very newspaper showed the small group of pro-abortion demonstrators sure took abortion " lightly"

    One dufus guy was sucking on his fingers trying to whisle while an old gray haired woman was laughing hysterically.
    Ms Combs organized that pro-abortion march.

  • mrcharles
    December 5, 2018 at 11:17 a.m.

    Brenda, I must admit you have a hard job trying to placate a red state gaggle of nonsensical trump and/or gop supporters while trying not to fall pray to fox entertainment hourly scandal of a democrat and its semi-hourly plea to invoke trump as a saint to be sanitized without even a vetting.

    I do submit for your consideration you do allow letters that are just pronouncements just short of a sermon by allowing mere mammals who insist on the mystery of the divine, but follow up with " let me tell you of the mind of god". A statement made as if straight from the deity does not necessarily imply that all logic and verification of the statement naturally flows from the statement.

    While your brand of being a christian has a lot going for it , compared to the southern heritage types often quoting here, the ala carte picking and choosing not to adopt the most silly and/or violent and/or "keep from the children" verses, may not be well founded if the ancient book is to be followed as it is required.

    And as to the lesser imp, perhaps just a non capital S satan, GM, he is like the man behind the curtain, a proponent of smoke and mirrors as if that is truth.

    I do appreciate your attempts to calm the savage beast that run amok here, and fully understand , you like the teacher at Har-ber, have to deal with a system that is run by Dark Over lords.