All posts by sebastian

Same-Sex Marriage

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Individual rights have always a hard thing to define. Things like property rights are defended time and time again by the judicial system, but many substances remain banned for recreational use. In more recent news, same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in the United States(Liptak), even though many states had banned it. As recently as 2012, less than a fifth of states had legalized same-sex marriage. This landmark case had a lot of people asking why same-sex marriage was banned anywhere in the first place. The cartoon above seeks to use recognizable symbols of justice and liberty to reflect on the now-obvious solution of letting an individual marry whoever they want.

Many conservative and religious groups were outraged by this decision. The argument that same-sex marriage should be illegal is a more complex one than may seem obvious. Many opponents clung to the bible(Blinder and Pena), quoting the book of Leviticus as declaring homosexuality as a sin. But for those with a more subtle complaint, it would seem that the threat they experienced was over the definition of the term “marriage.” Some opponents of same-sex marriage argued that if homosexuals could be married, then their marriage would be somehow cheapened. The idea there being that a marriage means less the less exclusive it is, almost like a club. Ultimately, however, the Supreme Court sided with the people who believed any consenting adults who were in love could be married.

The symbols contained in this cartoon seek to convey the degree to which the author deemed this solution obvious. The first way this is done is through the use of an ancient symbol, Lady Justice. Since ancient times, Lady Justice has been portrayed as a blindfolded woman holding scales. This represents an idea that goes back nearly as far as civilized human society, the idea that justice should be blind, and therefore give fair treatment to everyone. The scales held by Lady Justice are meant to symbolize a system that cannot be fooled by counterfeit ideas or testimony. This symbol is meant to convey that justice was done, as a blindfolded woman cannot tell whether a marriage is same-sex or not. Towards the same end, the scales that are designed to depict fair treatment, would be symbolically unable to tell if the two people being married are a same-sex couple or a “traditional” couple. A symbol that has forever exemplified the principles of justice applies again so far in the future from its creation.

The second of the symbols in the center of this cartoon is the Statue of Liberty. This American icon has always been a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples, as her broken shackles symbolize a place where one can live free of judgement. The torch Liberty holds is meant to represent enlightenment and hope for outsiders looking towards America. By using Liberty and Justice in conjunction, Bennett also visually evokes one of the most famous phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance, a pledge which describes America as a place that has “Liberty and Justice for all,” even though there were many couples that couldn’t be legally married until 2015. Using this visual joke highlights the misstep of many states in outlawing same-sex marriage. All of these symbols represent, in the more abstract, fair treatment and equal rights.

Finally, Lady Justice, and Lady Liberty are perched upon a wedding cake together. The wedding cake reads: “Same-sex Marriage.” This visual joke is meant to highlight the fact that when Liberty and Justice came together, to truly be “for all,” same-sex marriage had to be legalized. This joke also explores the irony that the symbols that represent the individual right to marriage are both female, so the figurative marriage of these ideals is also same-sex. Triumph is the theme of the cartoon, and the fact that the most appropriate symbols to represent the victory of same-sex marriage over restriction turned out to be the same sex is almost too impressive to be true.

This cartoon is meant to evoke the joy of a wedding while using symbolism to root this joy to the resolution of a long-debated issue. Opponents of same-sex marriage were finally defeated, and the euphoria of a wedding was rooted to the most popular symbols for liberty and justice. By portraying Lady Liberty and Lady Justice as a newly married couple, the artist also employed the figurative meaning of marriage, intending this to be a symbol of a meeting of the minds more than literal marriage. In using these symbols, Bennett captured the cultural rejoice that followed the defense of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court. Individual liberties were again defended from States’ encroachment by the judicial system.

 

WORKS CITED

 

Blinder, Alan, and Richard Perez-Pena. “Kentucky Clerk Denies Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, Defying Court.” New York Times 2 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

 

Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Rules Same-sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” New York Times 26 June 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

 

McKinley, Jesse, and Laurie Goodstein. “Bans in 3 States on Gay Marriage.” New York Times 5 Nov. 2008. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Ura, Alexa. “Texas Concedes Legal Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage Ban.” The Texas Tribune 1 July 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

 

Two!

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For states in the South, the question of what they are and aren’t allowed to do may never be clear to them. John Knott uses this humorous cartoon to portray a skinny boxer named “Kid Injunction,” who represents the power of judicial review, has knocked out two very large opponents. The first opponent, named “Martial Law in Oil Fields” is a burly man who’s been beaten senseless. The symbol of Martial Law here is intended to represent a power perceived as limitless, that has been taken down by the judicial system in Texas. The second opponent, “Cotton Planting Law” is just as burly as his unconscious compadre, and has also been definitively knocked out. The “Cotton Planting Law” this character is named for was a law enacted to limit cotton crop sizes in texas to respond to the Great Depression. This law was also struck down by “Kid Injunction,” as courts also reviewed and overturned this law.

Martial Law is defined as a use of military personnel to enforce laws and control a designated civilian population. This power can technically be enacted at any time by almost any executive branch head (I.E. Governor, Mayor, President) In Texas, in 1932 Martial Law was declared by Governor Ross Sterling to enforce new conservation statutes that he imagined would cause rioting in the oil fields that would be limited by said statutes. The statutes were quite extreme, limiting daily production of oil to less than a fifth of the previous yield(Smith). This event raised a question that Knott asked directly in the article: “If the Governor elects to and can without challenge declare Martial Law arbitrarily, what guarantees exist for property rights?” The cartoon implies that injunctions by the judicial system sufficiently limited the power of Martial Law in this instance as well as establishing precedent and did guarantee some rights for property owners. The precedent that was set was that Martial Law can be reviewed, and found unwarranted, and also that any soldier enforcing martial only has the powers a standard police officer would have (Author not listed). While this is not overly inconsistent with historical uses of Martial Law, such as cases where federal troops were used to control riots and stop looting after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and similar states of emergency, this case still offered important definitions as to the rules of Martial Law.

The Great Depression had the entire world on its heels, and the Southern cotton economy was no different. Low consumption and flat production lead to falling prices and farmers hemorrhaging money no matter how much they planted. A law was enacted in 1932 that required any crop to only be 30% the size of the crops from the year before, as well as requiring more crop rotation in an attempt to force farmers to diversify and, through that diversification, stabilize the export market of the Southern economy (Jasinski). While on paper this law seems like a smart idea, it was not handled in an ideal way, it was viewed as entirely too extreme and too limiting to the farmers. The reception of this law lead to most farmers either ignoring or finding ways around these limitations, and resisting diversity in their crops. The long-term effectiveness of this law was never determined, as it was struck down by district courts and declared unconstitutional. Kid injunction from the cartoon is credited with this knockout as well, as he is demonstrative of the power of judicial review that can often overturn decisions made by legislators and executives. This further proved that a state’s laws do not supercede the laws or constitution of the parent country.

In conclusion, Knott uses this cartoon and the accompanying editorial to convey that a conflict of state’s rights and the rights of people had been resolved by injunctions from courts. The undersized, and comedically skinny “Kid injunction” defeated Martial Law and cotton planting restrictions, limiting the power of the government of Texas. Private property owners were guaranteed due process before they were restricted, and the need to review any declaration of Martial Law was further emphasized and exercised.

 

 

Citations:

Author Not Listed. “Martial Law Decision.” Dallas Morning News 21 Feb. 1932: 36. Print.

 

“Martial Law.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. 2008. The Gale Group 3 Nov. 2015 http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Martial+Law

 

 

 

“Martial Law.” Gale Encyclopedia of American Law. Ed. Donna Batten. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 480-482. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

 



Ross Shaw Sterling Papers”, 1930-1939, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

 

“TEXAS COTTON ACREAGE CONTROL LAW OF 1931-32,” Jasinski, Laurie E. Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mltpc), accessed November 03, 2015.