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"Highly Sensitive And Volatile"

By The Reverend Published: March 13, 2012

Yesterday's and today's Doonesbury comic strips appear on today's Akron Beacon Journal opinion (commentary) page. With this Editor's note...

Normally, the often-satirical Doonesbury comic strip by Garry Trudeau appears on the Beacon Journal's comic pages alongside Get Fuzzy and Garfield.

This week's series will appear on our Commentary page because the story line touches on a highly sensitive and volatile issue and because there will be graphic discussion that some will consider objectionable.

We made this decision after viewing the strip's story line and giving consideration to how readers are likely to engage the strip over several days. We feel that this content is more appropriate for the pages where opinions on issues of the day are offered.

Today we are publishing the Monday and Tuesday strips. The story line will continue through the week on these pages.

A substitute Doonesbury series runs in our comics section.

Good on the Beacon bosses for changing their minds on censorship. Although I don't buy one word of the emboldened portions of their explanation.....at least they reconsidered their roles as censors.

Let me remind those who regularly read the Beacon....that it was Beacon bosses who chose to move Doonesbury from the editorial-opinion pages to the comic strip page, in the first place. Then, if my memory serves me right, it was because of Garry Trudeau's relentless treatment of another "highly sensitive and volatile issue"....the Bush presidency, and specifically, the Iraq war.

Then, as now, the Beacon bosses were deeply concerned about "how (conservative) readers (were) likely to engage the strip". So concerned, that they moved a daily political comic strip to the regular comics page, next to...umm....Garfield and Get Fuzzy....so that political commentary readers did not have to "engage" Trudeau's brilliant work....at all.

Then, as now, Doonesbury's story line touched on "highly sensitive and volatile issues".....the Bush-Cheney war of fraud, the war which should have never been, the war which killed 4500 U.S. soldiers and wounded tens of thousands more.....and all for no discernable reason. Then, as now, Trudeau was relentless in his comedic criticism of the Bush-Cheney regime. And because such a mockery of a GOP president might offend conservative readers who "engaged" the comic strip, the Beacon bosses transplanted Doonesbury to the comic page..... using the same "highly sensitive" and "volatile" nature of Trudeau's "graphic discussion" (read: unvarnished truth) as the excuse to move the comic strip.

And please...."graphic discussion"? Do you know what "graphic discussion" looks like? Yesterday's front page story about a lone wolf U.S. soldier in Afghanistan who went on a killing spree of civilians at 3 AM, murdering men, women and children at point blank range. That's what a "graphic discussion" looks like.

After Beacon Editors previewed the Doonesbury strip, they concluded...."Some will consider (it) objectionable". Isn't that also true of articles, commentaries, opinions and letters-to-the-editor the Beacon sees fit to print every day? Aren't there always....."some".....who find something in the Beacon "objectionable" every day?

And is it not true that the Beacon bosses moved Doonesbury from the editorial-opinion pages, where it had always been found, to the comic strip page.....because conservative readers found the comic strip's take on Bush and Iraq, "objectionable"?

So, no, the Beacon's explanation today is as limp as a lasagna noodle....but...at least Beacon bosses dropped their censorship robes and agreed to print Trudeau's take on conservative politicians' efforts in multiple states to shame and humiliate women seeking to exercise their legal right to choose their own reproductive course in life.

To avoid appearing mean-spirited over this issue, I must say that the Beacon has continued to put out a quality newspaper during a time when newspaper readership is in decline. I realize that the newspaper business, especially now, must be an extremely challenging business. I have read the Beacon for almost 60 years, and I have always appreciated the enterprise. I only wish them continued success.

That said.....to Beacon bosses: Do yourselves a favor. Leave Doonesbury on the editorial-opinion pages...where it has always belonged. You know you created this situation in the first place by transplanting Doonesbury to the comic page....next to Garfield and Get Fuzzy.....where it never belonged. Doonesbury is a political comic strip and always has been.

So, leave it on the editorial-opinion pages.

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