Editor's Note

'Doonesbury' Debacle

The Arizona Daily Star badly erred in its handling of this week's controversial "Doonesbury" comic strips.

The Star decided not to run this week's strips, by the great Garry Trudeau, which deal with a woman taking a trip through right-wing ineptitude at a Texas abortion clinic. The strips discuss real laws enacted in Texas in recent years.

The Star's explanation, as posted on the daily's Facebook page: "We decided not to run this week's 'Doonesbury' story line because of its placement on our comics and puzzle page. Tucson schoolchildren read the Star through our Newspapers in Education program, and we know that comics and puzzles are among the favorite features of our youngest readers.

"In addition to the adult story line, this week's strips use language like transvaginal, rape, slut, contraceptives and genitals. Yes, those words appear in news stories, but such stories are easy for teachers and parents to spot and choose whether to discuss or not. That's not the case on the comics page."

Fair enough. However, as a subscriber to the Star, I now ask: Why didn't editors move the strip somewhere else for the week, like some other newspapers that carry "Doonesbury" are doing? There's certainly plenty of space for these strips among The Associated Press wire copy and the syndicated columns, after all.

Another question: Why didn't the editors publish an explanation in the print version? On Monday and Tuesday, print readers of the Star got no warning about or discussion of the sudden "Doonesbury" re-runs. What about readers who don't follow the Star on Facebook?

For what it's worth, I sent a note to Universal UClick, the syndicate that distributes "Doonesbury" (as well as a couple of features that we run, including "News of the Weird"), and I asked if we could print this week's "Doonesbury" strips. A representative said no, because Universal UClick has a "contractual agreement" with the Star.

Therefore, those interesting, important strips won't be printed in Tucson this week. And that's a damn shame.

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