Dear Adam Ford, we need to talk about one of your recent comics.
Well, no, we dont need to. But Ive been struggling to come up with blog posts lately and you were an easy target. As a webcomic artist I know you understand.
No, Im not talking about any of the recent ones where youve breached the Ninth Commandment and borne false witness against thy neighbour, thy neighbour in this instance being Planned Parenthood. Im talking about this one:
Cartoon strip, three panels: a dialogue between two people, one wearing a T-shirt saying Culture, the other a sweatshirt saying Christian. Culture is surrounded by posters, and holds a megaphone in one hand and several placards in the other.
The mouse-over text at Fords site reads: Agree with me, you intolerant savage! demands Culture, gun trained on Christian.
Culture: Sex is life! Every kind of sex! All kinds of sex! Having sex with lots of people is pretty much the meaning of life, you know! The only people who are not promiscuous are weird sad losers! Woo yay sex! And porn! Love it! More porn pls! Also, homosexuality! Its like the greatest thing ever, period end of story! Gay gay gay gay yay for gay! And transgenderism! So beautiful! So heroic! So perfect in every way! Dont you agree with everything Im saying? Dont you? Oh wait you dont have a choice! LOL!
Sex! Every imaginable variety! All up in ur face! All day every day! Woo!
[partially obscured] ...hyperse[xual] homosexual transsexual
[Picture of bald bearded face] Say this is a woman. Say this woman is beautiful. Do it now.
Roses are red. Violets are blue. You should have sex with tons of people.
Well, youre upholding the proud old tradition of substituting visual stereotyping for argument, but theres an element of that in most editorial cartoons so I wont dwell on it. I picked this cartoon because I have a keen taste for irony. Why does the majority culture think your particular subculture is obsessed with sex? Largely because of the bizarre hallucinations your subculture promulgates about the majority cultures sexual ethics, as demonstrated in your first panel.
Lets start with the most minor point and work up from there. Im sure youve seen those lists of terms for different sexual and gender identities that queer advocacy groups put about. Im sure, because you tried to copy one that placard at the back that says hypersexual, homosexual, transsexual. Did you realize you didnt get even one of those words right? Nobody says hypersexual. Nobody. And for the other two, the words are gay and transgender in queer-friendly parlance. Homosexual and transsexual are words used by people who arent au fait with sexual or gender diversity. Already Im getting the impression you couldnt be bothered taking two seconds to Google anything.
Next, a couple of entangled confusions. Its a bit disingenuous, in the second panel there, saying you disagree, isnt it? Say what you mean: you disapprove. I mean, you could hardly disagree, factually, that some people have sex with more than one person, that porn exists, that some people have sex with people of their own gender, and so on. These are facts we both know are true. You think they should not be true. You disapprove. And its not like youre saying you just dont think you should do those things, because you dont do them anyway, do you? Or maybe just the porn one, and then you feel horribly guilty and cry and pray for forgiveness, by which you mean having the part of you that likes to look at bodies torn out of your skull? (Or am I projecting my own Christian adolescence onto you here?)
But thats only half of the confusion. The second half belongs to the Culture character. Oh wait you dont have a choice! (s)he says in the first panel. In your mouse-over text, (s)he pulls a gun on the Christian character. You do... you do get that theres a difference between Some people have this kind of sex and thats OK, and You need to have this kind of sex, dont you? Dont you? Actually, looking at that second panel, maybe not. Maybe, in your brain, if anyone has sex with more than one partner then everyone has to. Maybe thats what youre disagreeing with. If so, your brain is wrong, but its a simpler, more elegant wrongness than the incoherent mess of multiple errors that I would need to evoke to explain your state of mind otherwise.
Lets discuss the mouse-over text again. Culture has a gun trained on Christian? Since when? Nobody anywhere is threatening people with any kind of weapon for holding your particular views about sexual ethics. There are places in the world, on the other hand, where people are threatening others with weapons for not holding some of your views about sexual ethics: Uganda and Russia have got in the news in the last few years for punishing gay sex harshly, but theyre hardly alone. Look, I know the persecution passages in the New Testament very well. They made sense when they were written when Christians were being scapegoated by Nero Caesar for the Great Fire of Rome. They made sense when Christians were arrested and imprisoned or killed in East Asia a couple of centuries ago, or in the Soviet Union last century, or by Islamist regimes now. But they dont apply to Christians living in societies more tolerant than themselves. Disagreement is not persecution. Not being allowed to discriminate is not persecution.
I have this feeling, I dont know, that you might bring up Kim Davis at this point. Kim Davis is being held up by some as a sort of martyr, the first saintly victim of a feared new wave of anti-Christian persecution, because she has been jailed for refusing to issue same-gender marriage licences. (Shes an elected official, and apparently thats why she cant be sacked.) In case you need help seeing whats wrong with that framing, heres an imaginary example of the same principle working in the opposite direction. Imagine someone who believes that religion, especially Christianity, does active harm in society. Imagine this person works for a city planning department, issuing building permits. Imagine they refuse to license people to build or restore church buildings. Would it be unreasonable to penalize them for not doing their job?
This is really important, OK? Nobody is going to punish you for not having gay sex yourself. Nobody is going to punish you for not looking at porn. Nobody is going to punish you for waiting until marriage. But the price you pay for living in a society with those kinds of freedoms is that you agree not to hassle people for having gay sex, or looking at porn, or not waiting until marriage. You have to leave them alone. That includes letting them talk about those activities amongst themselves, at least now and then, without butting in and being all According to my Bible that stuff is a sin, you guys, wouldnt you rather be on side with God than go to Hell because you were too attached to your sinful fleshly worldly pleasures?
Now, depending on exactly how broadly you interpret the word punish, you may object that that last paragraph isnt entirely true. Some guys do brag about the sex theyve been having, and like all bragging its a dominance thing, so if you havent been having sex you get pushed down the status ladder. This is a thing that happens, I know. Ive never heard women bragging about sex exactly, but it is occasionally a topic of conversation in informal settings, and I guess some people might feel excluded from the conversation. But if thats what you were getting at, youre still seeing it wrong, because those things especially the bragging guys are entirely separate from the gay and trans rights movements.
Your biggest mistake, in fact, is putting only two people in this dialogue. To enjoy even the remotest glimmer of accuracy it would have to be at least three, and probably more. Culture would have to split into some kind of masculine rugby-head type on the one hand (whatever you call them where you live, I guess frat jock is the word Im looking for), whos doing the People who dont score are weird sad losers line, and on the other hand a Social Justice person saying Gay is OK, and trans people are brave and deserve support. And they would have to be at least as opposed to each other as either one is to you.
I really hope you can see the difference between Im a real man because I screw lots of women and People should be allowed to make their own sexual choices. You know what group is actually on the LGBT+ banners, that youve missed out here? Not hypersexual, which you made up, but the A in LGBTQIA asexual. People who, for various reasons, arent interested in sex. Asexual people object at least as strongly as you do to being told that theyre weird sad losers for not having sex. And the Social Justice person, in this corrected dialogue, would back them up. They would say Nobody has to have sex if they dont want to, or if they think they shouldnt. Nobody ever owes anybody sex, ever, for any reason.
Same goes if you replace the rugby-head guy with an advertiser, or a magazine editor, or a Hollywood suit, or anyone else whos responsible for putting about the objectifying images of womens bodies you see on every screen and newsstand. Im guilty of this myself, back when I edited a student magazine, but in my defence I did put some male nudity on that cover for gender balance and a co-worker took it off again. Not that you will consider that a defence, of course. You know what? If a representative of either of those groups did a cartoon like youve done, they would draw themselves as the innocent party, and amalgamate you with the remaining group to create a hybrid character almost as weird as your Culture. The Objectifiers would mix you and Social Justice together and call you Prudery or something; the Social Justice would mix you and the Objectifiers together and call you Patriarchy.
As a Social Justice person myself, I think the most important question is Who tells women what to do with their bodies? and the most important distinction is between those who say Themselves and those who say anything else, whether its Me or God or Dont I have a right to get something back if Ive paid for the movie? or Dont I have a right to get something back if Im married to her?. But I recognise that the idea of male ownership of womens bodies (deeply-rooted and good at camouflage as it is) creates endless, frequently violent, disputes over which man owns whom, which might inspire shifting coalitions and alliances between men but never genuine solidarity. I believe you when you say youre at odds with the Only losers dont get laid guys and the Look, boobs, buy our products people. I just dont think you see the most fundamental issue.
What Im trying to say here is, its not all about you. Its not even all about your particular faith grouping. Youre one belief in a world with lots of different beliefs. However much it might seem like it, the others are not all ganging up together to beat you down. They just happen to believe things different things in each case which you dont believe. Like I said, thats the price for living in a society that lets you believe what you believe.
Which I realize is difficult to accept if your particular belief happens to be that your god is the One True God and everything else is a work of the Prince of Darkness. But Ill let you grapple with that on your own time.