Local newspaper censorship of Doonesbury is hypocritical

Open today’s Argus Leader and you’ll see a couple editorials on the “public’s right to know” in the local section. Go to the next section, though, and something is missing — today’s scheduled Doonesbury comic strip. Instead, the Argus ran an old strip. Where I come from — which is the same place as much of the editorial staff at the Argus — keeping the public from reading something is known as censorship.

Now the First Amendment doesn’t apply to newspapers because they are private businesses, or, in the case of the Gannett chain that owns and runs the Argus, a multibillion dollar corporate conglomerate. But it seems particularly hypocritical for a newspaper that loves to tout itself as a bastion of First Amendment values to censor a comic strip.

What’s so offensive about the Doonesbury many other newspaper published today? Well, Garry Trudeau has been lampooning some of the abortion laws we’re seeing in this country, a third rail shibboleth in this state. Here’s the actual strip:

Although the Argus cut the strip without comment or explanation, I’m guessing it will say it was too graphic for a “family newspaper.” Yet there is no question it is highly topical. And I’d wager that the middle-aged white males who are dictate our state’s policy on abortion and similar social issues are lurking in the minds of the newspaper and its decision-makers.

It’s too bad unforgivable that the Argus is so willing to sacrifice the First Amendment values it claims to protect.

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

1 comment to Local newspaper censorship of Doonesbury is hypocritical

  • D.E. Bishop

    The Minneapolis Star-Tribune did not publish Doonesbury this week either. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more outrage in the paper’s Letters department.