A clean, well-lit place to vent
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Really, shopping for trail mix at Bagram PX? Nice try Red Rascal, but the real Bagram PX has nothing. No soap. No toothpaste. No toothbrush. No shaving cream. No deodorant. Trail mix with or without raisins? Nope. Dryer sheets -- sure, an endless supply, but no access to dryers. Bagram PX is the most barren, poorly stocked PX in all the Stan.
JEFF AND MELISSA
Please don't let Jeff and Melissa connect, I would be a discomfort for us and a misery for them.
Red Rascal rules. I finally see the value of this character in representing the mil-industrial complex run amok. So glad Mr. Trudeau is back in fine fettle. BTW, Alpha House rocks!Editor's Note:
You can view the first episodes of Alpha House for free here.
I can't help but think the Red Rascal has become the stand-in for our failure in Afghanistan. No matter how much harm we do, or good we fail to do, our policy makers can't shake the notion of the U.S. as the hero-rescuers. And leaders like Karzai are content to have us around for the money and the muscle, holding out the illusory promise of imminent democracy. They've been manipulating would-be occupiers just like this for centuries. How many more lives and resources will we waste before we employ the Vietnam exit strategy -- withdraw and say we won?
RAN THE GAUNTLET
Your strip last Sunday and the full series on MST are spot-on. I ran the gauntlet after my attack. Was told that if I pursued it I would face release from service with an "other than honorable" discharge! It happens to males as well. Thank you for your work. It does help we who were victimized by our attacker and by our superiors.
I'm very familiar with the military denials that rape occurs, or that it goes unpunished. My wife's sister, with whom we are very close, was being sexually harassed by her superior officer. Reporting it up the chain of command simply took it back to him, and he increased her sexual harassment. After consulting with some military authorities, she learned that the only way to bring him to trial and stop the problem, in her particular case, was to quit the military and sue him as a civilian. She did this, lost her pension (just two years short of full retirement), but sued and won her case. He was dishonorably discharged. She got no compensation for losing her retirement, just the satisfaction of stopping a predator who thought he was untouchable and could do anything he wanted to his underlings.
I've told the story to military acquaintances who have accused me of lying, of repeating hearsay, and of things we can't print in a family newspaper. The interesting part, to me, is that they don't ask me questions, probe my facts, or in any way try to verify her story. They immediately launch into full vilification of her and of me for telling the story, as if they have been trained to take down an enemy, and I'm the enemy. It's bizarre and shocking to watch this behavior unfold in a public place like a restaurant or party where decorum suggests you walk away rather than escalate it into a full-blown shouting match. I didn't respond here at first, but after seeing some similar denials in these pages, I thought I'd mention my personal experience with the same kinds of thought processes. Trust Mr. Trudeau; there are many Melissa Wheelers out there, and while some may experience justice, from what we've learned, most never do.
SPOT-ON AND PITHY
Sunday's strip about rape in the military is spot-on and pithy. Pithy in that the report of a sexual assault eventually does end up at high level, and reporting rape can be career suicide, exactly as one of your critics states. Of course this is not about every person in the military. It is a particular example of a widespread occurrence, and also a metaphor for the fact women are often raped by a person who is in or is supported by the command structure. If you dont like this, it is your business to support all measures that (a) stop the rapes, and (b) make it safe to report.
Please continue your fine, brave work. Every time someone suggests your cartoons should not have been shown, it means you've hit the nail on the head. Freedom of speech is perhaps even more important than the freedom to bear arms!
Congratulations, you have earned my ire. I will be getting you removed from my paper's Sunday comics section. No only was Sunday's strip disrespectful, it was flat out wrong on many levels.
I am appalled at how naive so many are. I work for the VA with trauma survivors and have many women who reported rape and got blown off by their commanding officers. Most cases were covered up, with no satisfaction for the victim or punishment for the perpetrator. The women get discharged and the perpetrators get transferred, on average, according to the personal accounts from women military rape victims. I like the representation in Doonesbury because it is after all a comic strip with exagerated representations of real life.
It's a shame that those who passionately defend the military justice system can't see past their own experiences to acknowledge the truth of the different experiences of thousands of female (and male!) survivors of sexual assault and rape in the military. These surviving servicemembers aren't liars, and it does them and the military a terrible disservice to dismiss their reports as wrong just because the narrative doesn't jive with what others saw or wanted to see.
As your comic on Sunday had no context and reference to the material which you are trying to refer to, I found the subject matter completely inappropriate and disgraceful. Rape is not a satirical element, and for you to use it in one of your cartoons is nothing less than bad taste. I have read the comic for over 30 years and as of today you lost a fan and you gained an adversary.
THE OTHER SIDE
Thank you for showing us the other side of the Red Rascal -- teaching math to girls and bringing books to the illiterate in Afghanistan. I work on digital textbook projects, including math, for children there and in dozens of other countries in conjunction with One Laptop Per Child, and would like to invite him to one of our events. Oh wait. Was that also just another of his fantasies?
Wow, today's "No one had ever seen a book before" really nailed it. According to Wikipedia, Afghanistan in 2000 had one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world: only three in ten people over the age of 15 could read and write; among women, only one in eight.
I received the Sunday paper with your comic strip about a female in the military approaching her commander, reporting a rape that happened to her. He dismisses the case and she says, "Welcome to the military, ladies." This should have never made it into the newspaper. This is not funny. I know hundreds of military men and women -- some of them my relatives, including my dad. This was mean!Editor's Note:
Sunday's strip is but one installment in a long-running narrative. GBT has been writing about OIF veteran Melissa Wheeler and her experience with MST (Military Sexual Trauma) since March of 2007, when she walked into a VA center seeking counseling. The early strips from the series are here. For more on GBT's take on the issue, you can read this OpEd he and Gen. Loree Sutton wrote for the Washington Post: "Breaking the Cycle of Sexual Assault in the Military." And there is a Forbes interview with GBT on the subject here.
A former army brat (non U.S.) and concerned mother, I recently met Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii, served two deployments to M.E.) and asked her what I should say to my daughter when she is looking at careers. The Congresswoman gave me the best answer she could give, under the circumstances, which mingled the right sentiments about patriotism and service to the country with being a strong woman and watching out for predators. All I could do was request her to put the right laws in place before my girl comes of age so that I can tell her "Yes -- the military is a great career." I hope good sense and the rule of law prevails even over the army.
After reading comments from well-meaning military officers that Sunday's portrayal of reporting rape is inaccurate and unfair, I have to comment. Sexual harassment or rape is such appalling and unimaginable behavior to the officers in my own military family that they are blind to that behavior and can't imagine that any discovered predator wouldn't be immediately severely punished. The facts however, say the problem of harassment and rape in the military is very real. This doesn't negate the honorable people in the military, but I must point out their blindness to the predators among them.
Why is Trudeau's understanding of rape in the military so inaccurate? Twenty minutes of online research can fix that. A Soldier raped by a Field Grade Officer doesn't go to him -- she reports it to the MPs and it goes straight to the General Officer above him. The best case scenario for that officer is his (or her) career -- 20 to 30 years of hard work -- is toast. And that's if they're highly decorated and the chain of command thinks they walk on water. More likely, either because of a need for justice or to sop to the PC crowd, that officer will get hung out to dry. They'll get demoted, go to jail, lose their pension, and become as welcome as a turd in a punchbowl amongst their peers. Indeed, the most sinister thing about it is that any Darwin Award-type individual who complains to their superior about that officer's own criminal behavior opens themselves to more criminal behavior.
I thought your strip of 12/8 very timely ,and wish the military higher-ups would read it, especially with the "Supporting your daughters in the Army" TV ads. Keep up the wonderful work.
Perhaps all those lambasting Sunday's strip about sexual abuse in the military ought to ask themselves why, if the reporting process through command channels is so open, available, non-discriminatory, and just, Gillibrand's amendment was so threatening that the DOD lobbied as hard as it could and, ultimately, succeeded in having it quashed. The thought of taking the reporting process out of the hands of the good-old-boy network must have been truly terrifying.