Unethical Political Cartoon Of The Month: Barry Deutsch


To be fair, the Justice wasn’t much of a cartoonist…

In today’s warm-up, I briefly discussed the acquittal earlier this moth of NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs in the shooting an unarmed black motorist.  It was a weird case. Isaacs was off duty, and prompted a driver to apparent road rage by cutting him off in traffic. The motorist, according to Isaacs, walked up to his car and  struck him, and fearing that his assailant was armed, the officer drew his pistol and fired.

I don’t know if it was a coincidence or by design, but on the day of the acquittal progressive cartoonist Barry Deutsch, who once did battle (and well) at Ethics Alarms, posted this cartoon at his blog:

In the same post, he also called the late Justice Rehnquist a racist, which he was not, and made the demonstrably false statement that most police shootings involve blacks, but never mind that.

You have to really detest police and the principle of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to regard such a cartoon as fair or enlightening. (Ethics Alarms is on record as declaring political cartoons an inherently unethical form of punditry.) No cop has been acquitted of shooting an unarmed  9-year-old kid in self-defense, and the cartoon is factually wrong that such a claim by a police officer would get him acquitted. Moreover, the case Barry is apparently referring to, Graham v. Connor, does not involve a shooting, and Rehnquist’s opinion for the majority doesn’t say what the cartoon says it does. In addition, the opinion in the case primarily relied upon by the majority in Graham, Tennessee v. Garner,  wasn’t written by the Rehnquist, but by Justice Byron White. It also specifically involved police shooting at fleeing suspects.

Thus the cartoonist a) doesn’t know what he’s talking about b) misleads his readers ( the blog is an echo chamber if there ever was one), and c) smears Justice Rehnquist.

In the comments, Barry refers to the Tamir Rice shooting as an obvious case of the justice system letting a guilty cop off based on racism. Then he deceitfully misrepresents the facts, calling Rice an “unarmed child.”  Rice was a “child,” but he was also a man-sized 12-year old in winter clothing, playing with an Airsoft pistol–it looks like a real gun; my son once owned one, and when he left some Airsoft guns in the back of our car, a police squad surrounded it after a 911 call—with the red tip removed. The officer who shot Rice had been mistakenly led to believe that a man was waving a real gun around in a public park. To him, this was not an “unarmed child.”  This was an armed man. There was no evidence that Rice’s race played any part in the shooting, except through presumed racism by people like Barry Deutsch.

Following a cartoon that spoke of a 9-year-old, Barry’s word games smack of deliberate disinformation. No question about it, the officer in the Rice case was incompetent and should never have been hired, and the police  department was liable for Rice’s death, which is why the parents received a multi-million dollar settlement. But the DA had good reason to believe that no jury would convict the officer of murder given what he had been told and saw at the scene. (Personally, I think Rice’s death was criminal negligence.)

But that’s Barry, a smart, perceptive man thoroughly addled by progressive cant and bias.  After all, he thinks this is a fair cartoon about climate change.

It’s the SECOND-most unethical political cartoon of the month…and I bet 99% of progressives see nothing wrong with it.


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, The Internet

24 responses to “Unethical Political Cartoon Of The Month: Barry Deutsch

  1. Most political cartoons, especially in this politically charged irrational anti this anti that social justice warrior society, are simply political propaganda meant to be a virus infecting the mind of readers; the whole truth is irrelevant to biased agenda driven political propagandists.

  2. Barry frustrates me, but I’m sure the feeling is mutual. I continue to post on his blog because I find his commentors interesting, and to spite him a little bit, because I think he’d like for me to go away and leave him to his sacred cows.

    I think you give him far too much credit as a thoughtful person. I think that Barry is knowledgeable, but exceptionally selectively so… He’s a veritable encyclopedia on certain issues, but has a horrible habit of either ignoring or forgetting things that interfere with a progressive narrative. And while he’s perhaps able to admit when he’s gotten material facts wrong in his narrative, he has an amazing capacity to rationalize his mistakes away as being unimportant, and going forward as if nothing happened. Things like this preclude someone from being particularly “thoughtful” in my estimation, but your mileage may vary.

    That said… I don’t think Barry actually believes the things he puts into print. A lot of the time, the conversation in the comments below his strips, including the conversation from him, is much more reasonable than the six panels he puts out. Chris seems to think that he uses the comics as an invitation to dialogue, but I pointed out that that’s incredibly stupid, because it’s like punching someone in the face and then expecting reasonable dialogue to follow.

    My alternative theory is that Barry knows his audience, and his audience likes the pretense that they are an exceptionally learned demographic, when in reality they’re even less thoughtful than Barry is. I also think that there might not be too much money in cartooning, and he might be afraid that if he drops the progressive edginess and oh-so-important holier than thou attitude, he’ll suffer financially… I admit it’s conjecture, but it’s conjecture built on observation. It’s something of a progressive trope that on Twitter, instead of actually putting in your working website (like ethicsalarms.com or amptoons.com/blog) you put in a Paypal or Patreon link, Barry has always been especially shameless at this, he doesn’t make a scribble he doesn’t put his Patreon information on, but he’s recently hit a brand new water mark by actually changing his Twitter NAME to include his Patreon account. “Gaze upon me, for I am virtuous, and if you like my low-brow humor masquerading as erudite sageness, here’s where you can pay me.”

    • He struck lines through my entire post when I presumed to point out the blatant dishonesty of his commenters. Nice. Calling dishonest garbage dishonest garbage, and explaining why, wasn’t civil.

    • As an update: I am banned from future posting on Alas! I personally thought Barry was going to pull the pin after I went called him a lying high-brow low-information shitposter as my opening salvo, or when I called him out for creating Fake News about the Anita Sarkeesian outburst at VidCon.

      Regardless, it’s probably the nicest banning I’ve ever received:

      “For the record, I didn’t want you to go away – or I would have just banned you. I didn’t ban you because despite finding you frustrating, I liked that you challenged my views, your willingness to be civil, and you were even funny now and then, which is always a nice bonus in a commenter.

      But that was before I read you saying that you’re posting on my blog to spite me, that I make cartoons I don’t believe in for the money, etc etc. I don’t need anyone who posts out of spite, or who trashes me behind my back.

      So now you’re banned. Congrats! Now you can start lying and telling people I banned you for your views, but you know and I know: I banned you for acting like an asshole.

      I appreciate the good contributions you made to my blog. Good luck with whatever you do in the future.

      Best wishes, Barry”

      I have no idea after all the times I questioned his honesty directly to him he can pretend that this was somehow “behind his back”, but I accept I’m an asshole.

      Good luck Barry!

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Of course all these lefty jerks live out on the West Coast, where going there and punching them out would be a huge effort.

        • Naw Steve, I have serious problems with Barry’s rhetoric, but it’s his pool, he can say who plays in it.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            On basics, yes. On principle, he’s just creating an echo chamber, and those leave a bad taste in my mouth since the early 2000s, when performer forums dominated and would not permit any kind of criticism of the artist. Sorry, but the “he’s/he’s/they’re the greatest” posts get really boring, really fast when talking just about musicians, never mind political figures.

      • Hey Barry,
        It’s plainly obvious that you are either reading these threads or you have a “spy” forwarding things to you, either way Barry this note is directly to you…

        Barry wrote, “you’re posting on my blog to spite me”

        No you fool that not all Humble Talent wrote and I quote, “because I find his commentors interesting, and to spite him a little bit”

        So you’ve focused on building hyperbole around HT’s use of the word spite and you’ve completely ignored the “little bit”. If you can’t take a “little bit” of spite once in a while in a vocal online commenting community then you need to grow up and get a pair then just maybe you won’t continue to act like a coddled little prick.

        Have a “nice” day Barry.

        • Argh. Principles. My principle to do exactly what I say I was going to do warred with my principle to attempt to be generally honest, and honesty won.

          Barry actually started his Email with “So ages ago I subscribed to a thread on the blog “Feminist Critics.” This morning, someone posted on that long-dead thread linking to Ethics Alarms (presumably because they remember I had posted on that thread), and the system automatically emailed the comment to me. I clicked, and I read this: (parts of my comment)”

          I mean… I see no reason why that wouldn’t be true, especially since the post had his name in the title.

          • HT wrote, “Barry actually started his Email with ‘So ages ago I subscribed to a thread on the blog ‘Feminist Critics.’ This morning, someone posted on that long-dead thread linking to Ethics Alarms (presumably because they remember I had posted on that thread), and the system automatically emailed the comment to me. I clicked, and I read this: (parts of my comment)’ “

            That’s either confirmation of a “spy” taking extreme measures to cover their tracks or Barry’s trying to cover his own tracks; LOL!

            Yesterday evening I took a stroll through some of Barry’s blog and waded through a few of the comments threads; talk about some really biased and really dishonest commenters! A bastion of Liberals surrounded by reality.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              Scrolling through liberal comment threads is a sure way to a headache, although it IS a good way to pick up crude, cruel, and obnoxious insults – which I must admit I have resorted to more often than I should have.

      • Oh, I’m sorry! I am also surprised. A commenter isn’t obligated not to criticize a blogger on another blog. Nor did you suggest that you trolled when you posted there. “Behind his back” is nuts in this context.

        Barry has self-esteem issues.
        That’s one problem I am unfamiliar with…

        • Chris

          If I went to Barry’s blog and posted something similar about you, Jack, I’d expect to be banned here. It’s bad form. In my opinion, you should have let him know about this post yourself.

          • Chris wrote, “If I went to Barry’s blog and posted something similar about you, Jack, I’d expect to be banned here. It’s bad form.”

            So anytime someone says negative things about another blogger on different sites their voice should be silenced. If you’re an online blogger, you have to have thick skin and take things like this in stride, to ban HT for what he said on this site, which was both positive and negative, was petty and immature.

            Chris wrote, “In my opinion, you should have let him know about this post yourself.”

            I’m not entirely sure if when you say “this post” you are meaning Jack’s blog post or HT’s comment? Either way; you’re kidding right? You really think that Jack should take it upon himself to forewarn someone else that there is, or going to be, a critical comment/blog posted about them?? Why would you put this kind of responsibility on Jack, or anyone?

            • I don’t have the energy to track down Chris’s comment, so I will call it silly here, and now you have an obligation to tell him.

              What nonsense.

              I ban commenters for, among other things, behaving rudely toward their host while they are guests here. Commenting here creates no obligation to treat me or the posts or Ethics Alarms with kid gloves elsewhere on the web. Nor is it rude not to do so. Google me sometime. There are plenty of nasty posts about me. Any of those bloggers—well, maybe with one exception, would be welcome to comment here.

              Also, Barry WAS alerted because I linked to his blog, just as I am usually alerted when someone links to EA. It’s called a ping. The courtesy is the link.

          • Oh, I expected to be banned there eventually. I have to admit that I thought this was a strange straw to break the camel’s back, but I’m not choked even a little bit… I just think it’s illustrative.

          • “In my opinion, you should have let him know about this post yourself.”

            This is foolish. Do you DM every jerk you tweet about and tell them you’ve called them mean names on the internet? Literally nothing I posted here was something I did not say directly to Barry either on Twitter or on Amptoons, so why he thought I’d say he was a shameless, dishonest, panderer to his face and nowhere else is beyond me.

  3. charlesgreen

    I’m no lawyer, but my impression is that the point Deutsch is making is broadly correct.

    That is, intent is the arbiter of guilt. This is why (I believe, correct me if I’m wrong) that patterns of discrimination are broadly not dispositive in criminal cases, as long as it can be shown that the individual in question did not intend anything racist. Fear, in other words, is a defense.

    At its extreme, this means you could have an Alabama Supreme Court ruling out of order evidence that suggest outrageous patterns of discrimination in matters like death penalties.

    If you believe, as I do, that there are very few conscious, intentional racists these days, but that unconscious racism is a very real thing, then this is a gigantic loophole.

    If we’re to be stuck with “racism” defined as nothing more than conscious intent, then there’s little hope for social justice, because results and effects are judicially irrelevant.

    This is what I take to be Deutsch’s over-arching point. Whether he made it with over-the-top exaggeration or over-stating the point is another, quite legitimate point, but it shouldn’t be allowed to over-shadow this one critical issue that is indeed baked into our legal system (again, as I understand it; I’m happy to stand corrected).

    • “If we’re to be stuck with “racism” defined as nothing more than conscious intent, then there’s little hope for social justice, because results and effects are judicially irrelevant.”

      I think you hit the nail squarely on the head but didn’t realize it. The judicial system isn’t the place for social justice, because social justice and actual justice are mutually exclusive: Social Justice is the idea that people should be judged as groups, whereas justice is the idea that people should be judged as individuals.

      • charlesgreen

        How do you interpret civil rights legislation? Seems to me it’s dealing with inequities to groups of people.

        • I mean…. “civil rights legislation” is so broad as to almost be meaningless.

          If you mean “civil rights legislation” to mean things like the 14th amendment, or the repeal of Jim Crow, then yes, you had laws that dealt with inequalities towards groups of people, but those laws addressed other laws that made inequalities to begin with. Once you have a bad law on the books, you have to pass legislation to mitigate it, because there are no alternatives. From that standpoint, the laws weren’t actually dealing with inequities to groups of people, they were dealing with shitty laws.

        • Put another way: If you were referring to “civil rights legislation” as in laws that weren’t a reaction to other laws, but had gendered or racial language built into them (like VOWA, off the top of my head) then those laws, laws that stand alone and discriminate, are bad by definition.

          To use my example… VAWA makes violence against women a more serious class of crime than violence against men. This is legally indefensible. Any legitimate legal goal of VAWA could have, and should have been made by… oh… let’s call it VAPA (Violence Against People Act), but the goal wasn’t legal, it was social. And it creates injustice. Individual men should not face longer sentences than individual women for the same crime…. Not because of some gendered bias, but as a legally codified position, because men as a class are seen as more violent.

    • I think racist and biased attitudes warp judgment in the justice system. I think the race of a perp can make a police officer of any race feel more threatened. The pro-police bias in juries, however, is not race based, and to a great extent is fair and justifiable.

      And none of this can be blamed on Rehnquist. AND Tamir Rice is a terrible example to prove anything about anything.

  4. But that’s Barry, a smart, perceptive man thoroughly addled by progressive cant and bias. After all, he thinks this is a fair cartoon about climate change.

    Even if global warming would lead to increased precipitation (something scientists disagree on) , a single rainstorm no more proves it than a single snowstorm disproves it

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