Bill of Rights and Wrongs

Recently I was part of an international jury at the 29th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition in Turkey. Some of the jurors and competitors were from countries where citizens who criticize the government can find themselves in prison.

The cartoonists, and their editors, in those countries tread carefully. (Yet one of the main themes among the competing cartoons was revolution. Here’s the co-winner, created by the Turkish artist Doğan Arslan.)

In Turkey, there are more than 100 journalists and a number of mayors and activists jailed by the government on invented charges.

In the U.S., our President has been labeled an extremist-Muslim-Communist-terrorist-Kenyan-alien plotting the destruction of our country. The punishment for the accusers is having Fox microphones and cameras thrust into their faces.

We are protected from arbitrary arrest by our Bill of Rights, which, generally, our government has adhered to since the Constitution was adopted. Many people today probably think the Bill of Rights is the Constitution, but it wasn’t even part of the original document.

What Federalists like Washington, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison actually created with the Constitution was a strong central government that was good for business and muscular enough to protect those in power from the people.

But when it came time to vote for or against the Constitution, many citizens refused to give up their demand for a Bill of Rights.

By 1789, with the Federalists pushing hard, all the states had passed the Consitituion. In 1791:

Update: Imagine if George Washington had acted like today’s Egyptian generals and said, “Guys, your Bill of Rights is certainly symbolically important, and I’m all for it in principle, but, for now, I and my army think our national security and the economy require that we put it on hold.”

The Kick-off

Real life is comic, sad, ironic, extravagant; it moves fast and takes you by surprise. It’s ready made for my real life funnies comic strips. When I was roughing out “Taxes, the Tea Party, and those Revolting Rebels,” I struggled with how to kick off the story. History lies flat on the page. It doesn’t emote in front of you like real life does.

When it came to that crucial first page, I knew the facts I wanted to present, but how to do it in a way the modern reader would get. After gallons of coffee, an Out-Takes strip I did for Adweek magazine jumped into my head. The story took place at the end of the shooting of a TV commercial. I’ve included it here.

I thought, how classic, massaging the client…until the client walks out the door. Who hasn’t temporarily pasted a smile on his or her face and then been glad to pull it off? I translated that moment back in time to Colonial days and had my first page.