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We are so fucked some more.

Tony Millionaire reports that three of the newspapers that carry his (brilliant) strip Maakies asked him to change the word “cunt” in this week’s edition to “vagina.” They did this, mind you, on the word of their states’ attorneys general, who, in turn, have apparently received a directive from Attorney General John “Tititcaca” Ashcroft. Millionaire explains:

One of the editors told me that it was from the Attorney General’s office in the state in which the paper runs. He said he called and a woman on the phone told him that this was coming down all over from the Federal Attorney General, from Ashcroft’s office. They’re issuing warning letters to state Attorney General’s offices who are cleaning up throughout their individual states. My guess is that these people consider the funny pages a safe haven for kids and that’s why they’ll come down harder on comics than on other print media.

Personally, I think it’s part and parcel of Ashcroft’s general war on icky female stuff: he’s a gynophobe. But, I mean, fuck. Isn’t there, oh, I dunno, a terrorist out there you could go catch or something, instead? Huh? (Still haven’t found that anthrax person, have you.)

A quick addendum:

Yes, we’re not operating on a comfortable level of confirmation here. Millionaire has growled at one person seeking independent confirmation by getting the names of the newspapers in question.

Get the timeline right: it’s not that the Attorney General decided to declare war on this particular Maakies strip. It’s that Millionaire heard from three newspapers that they didn’t want to run a strip with the word “cunt” in it. One of the three made the claims cited above. On the basis of these three complaints, Millionaire then resubmitted the strip. To everyone. If your local alternaweekly ran “vagina,” it doesn’t mean your local alternaweekly is one of the three Bad Papers; they ran what everybody else did.

It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the federal Attorney General has asked states’ attorneys general to aid his office in cracking down on smut in newspaper funny pages; that level of cooperation, symbolic or not, is not uncommon, for all that the states’ attorneys general are not themselves Department of Justice flunkies.

No, the FCC doesn’t have anything to do with newspaper strips. Or online strips (yet). That was a mistake Millionaire made in his first TCJ message board post, and he’s since copped to it.

—I tried to hedge the original post with enough weasel words to cover my own ass (while still leaving it funny enough to, y’know, sting) in the event that this is nothing more than a spectacularly stupid publicity stunt, or a misunderstanding that’s gotten out of hand (given the current climate, though, it’s understandable. If you follow). But since I’ve been linked by Atrios (and can I just say: damn, but the man throws some heavy traffic), I felt I should lay it out a bit more clearly. (Of course, since I was the one who slipped the link over his transom, you could say I ought to have laid it out more clearly from the start. I wouldn’t argue. But hey: it was good enough for Heidi MacDonald and the Pulse!

(No excuse, right, right. Anyway. DEVELOPING, as Drudge would say. —Take that howsomever you like.)

  1. rick    Mar 19, 01:50 PM    #
    Geez. It just keeps getting worse. This is how we're wasting are tax dollars - going after comics?

    Well, I'm just waiting for this administration to go ahead an propose amending the Constitution to say Freedom of Speech only covers what is acceptable to the religious right, and doesn't criticize these bastards.

    Hope I'm not adding to your Indecency violations here, but I really don't think Papa Bush and Barbara were legally married, just created by god as a couple to test us through their vile progeny. And, I really can't think of anything more indecent than imagining Barbara and Papa Bush having sex. Bleeeech!!!

  2. anna    Mar 19, 02:12 PM    #
    yea, what rick said.

    other than that, i found your site via the atrios link. your design is *stunningly beautiful*.

  3. Ellroon    Mar 19, 02:23 PM    #
    Ummm so "Major asshole" would be obscene? (Please say yes!)

  4. les pee    Mar 19, 02:52 PM    #
    Better check to see if sponge bob is practicing safe sex

  5. Monkeybutt    Mar 19, 03:33 PM    #
    First of all, coming here from Atrios, I have to say this is one hell of a good-looking blog! Nice lay-out.
    If Ashcroft wants to clean up the language used in comics, could he please have a look at movies too? 90% of my work consists of translating American movies and I cannot even begin to count the number of f*cks I heard over the years. C*nt is actually a rare word in films, now that I come to think of it. Hmm.

  6. Daddy-O    Mar 19, 04:04 PM    #
    It's very simple. Ashcroft and Bush have actually capitulated to al Qaeda, and are hoping that by reining in pornography like this, they will appease them into a truce.

    After Bush wins the election, they're going to have peace talks. They'll be very surprised to find how much they have in common.


  7. squirm    Mar 19, 04:15 PM    #
    Monkeybutt's comment reminds me of a vacation in Amsterdam I took back in 2000. My wife and I went to a movie (Magnolia), and the audience was kind of stunned by the language. About halfway through, people started making fun of the movie, shouting "fuck fuck fuck"... when it all got too much, some people walked out. Not a bad movie, mind you, but seeing it from another perspective, yeah, we're a pretty crass bunch over here in the states.

    Gorgeous site, BTW.

  8. DK2    Mar 19, 07:55 PM    #
    Came from Atrios, too. And, great looking site.
    I'm a fellow lib, don't believe in Ashcroft, Thugco, etc.
    But..."Cunt" in the comic section doesn't seem right. I'm not naive, but consider myself a gentleman, and I really, really try to pick my spots when using the ugliest of 4 letter words.
    Makes 'em much more effective that way...

    DK2 cents worth.

  9. Ross    Mar 19, 08:06 PM    #
    Now, it's irrelevant to the larger point, but I just don't get the joke in the toon. Is it funny to anyone, whether the punchline uses vagina or cunt?

  10. jimBOB    Mar 19, 08:16 PM    #
    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Not no way, not no how is this ANY of Ashcroft's business. Nor is it of any of the state AG's either. He can move to Iran where they agree with this kind of thing.

    If the papers object, fine. Their perogative. But it's totally inappropriate for anybody in the government to stick their nose in it.

  11. jane doe    Mar 20, 12:06 AM    #
    "Vagina" doesn't make sense at all... i mean that's definitely the "inside" of the female genitalia... it could fall out.. or (yuck) prolapse or something.. but fall off? Should have gone for "bush"...

    Apart from that i liked the joke :) - but then i'm definitely a sick and twisted mind... at least in the eyes of people like John Asscraft et al.

    jane doe

    Oh, and what everybody said: Came over from Atrios and found a very nice looking site. Go a bit easier on the image-compression of the sailors, though. I know it loads faster, but the blocky JPEG-artifacts hurt my eyes. but then, i'm a perfectionist, so don't listen to me.

    One more: just how degenerate a mammal do you have to be to be scared of breasts? But maybe that's Darwin hitting back ;)

  12. the media drop    Mar 20, 04:09 AM    #
    Cartoons Are Obviously Indecent
    Last night, Atrios pointed out that a piece of the Maakies comic strip was edited by at least 3 newspapers it was published in for a particular use of a word describing a female anatomical reference. And we'll leave it...

  13. Pandagon    Mar 20, 04:12 AM    #
    Dead, But Never Lived
    David Brooks laments the near-death of compassionate conservatism, making his first mistake - pretending it ever had the potential to exist as more than a bunch of vague rewordings of conservative policies carried out by functionaries and zealots rangi...

  14. Catch    Mar 20, 06:14 AM    #
    The C-word
    I knew Tony Millionaire back in the early 90's when I used to live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. At the time Williamsburg, the neighborhood next door, was far from the

  15. Mr.Murder    Mar 20, 09:45 AM    #
    Call it a 'Bush' for irony. Strange they have something against a lovely cunt(Ashcroft psychosis as usual). Instead call her a Dick. Or even a 'Colin'...as a Dick it would leave no hidden intent of the statement.

    Better yet- spell words into anachronisms using Capital letters, it could be done so in a way with most cartoon strips that it would be overlooked or almost subliminal with certain font script styles.

    So cartoons are the priority? 'Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron'... the fit is too good in some situations. Plus the original thirteen colonies had their share of political cartoons that were over the top and have established long running precedents.
    As Bill the Cat would say- Bring it On! (ack)

  16. drieuxish blog    Mar 20, 10:15 AM    #
    C or V
    Ok happy Kampfer's should one use the C-word or the V-word when expressing any form of gynophobic or anti-gynophobic Ideological Deviationalims? I think we will have to call YAAV on anyone who uses the C-Word outside of the Patriotically Correctly Proa...

  17. Adolf Washington    Mar 20, 11:51 AM    #
    Is it funny to anyone, whether the punchline uses vagina or cunt?

    No. Welcome to "The Maakies."

  18. GOP GIRL    Mar 20, 11:18 PM    #
    Ashcroft is WAY out of line! Why he better not try to trample my dialogue boxes as I go after these (censored), pinko, (deleted), (extracted), (omitted), liberal, (banned), terrorist-loving lefties!

    - GOP GIRL

    Put that in your leftist (unprintable) and smoke it!

  19. Donna Barr    Mar 21, 06:15 AM    #
    Did someone say "wasting our money by going after comics?"

    PEOPLE! This way they can get Art AND writing -- all in one swell foop!

  20. Prentiss Riddle    Mar 23, 08:05 AM    #
    I *do* get the joke, and its anatomical impossibility is part of its humor; I think it works with either word, but I disagree that the shorter one is the "ugliest of 4-letter words" -- it's a venerable word (cf. Chaucer) for a lovely object which should in no way be considered pejorative, a word thoroughly deserving of rehabilitation; I detest the idea that Ashcroft or any other public official should even think it is within their purview to police these matters; and I assume that we're talking about grown-up "alternative" weekly papers here, right?

    Yet I lament the state of funny pages in daily "family" papers. Not because of obscenity but because there are virtually no jokes in them that I can explain to my five-year-old. Maybe in Family Circus. Somehow mainstream culture dumbs down the grownup stuff and ratchets up the kid stuff as though we were all 15.

    Thank god for alternative comix by grownups for grownups! And for the higher-end childrens' authors who still turn out books for kids with brains.

    Hmm -- what do you suppose would happen if the big newspaper syndicates hired some Caldecott winners and Art Spiegelman's "Little Lit" gang to do ongoing strips?

  21. Nøhr    Mar 23, 09:30 AM    #
    The word "cunt" causes trouble?... a word?.. ONE word?
    I'd worry about crime and decease and such... but language and usage of words.. jeez..
    Only in America ladies and gentlemen.. only in America.

  22. A Small Victory    Mar 26, 03:11 AM    #
    Fool You Once
    I just love watching people get their Ashcroft panties in a bunch over things they just haven't fact checked. But hey, Ashcroft is involved, so let's just run with it! I'm not exactly a fan of the Ash Man, but...

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