An Analysis of Tom Toles' Gay Rights Cartoon
Tom Toles' most recent cartoon for the Washington Post shows a wedding cake with -- instead of the traditional bride and groom figurines -- a groom and a groom, smiling and holding hands. One of the figurines is playing on the Sinatra tune, "New York, New York," saying, "If we can make it here…" suggesting that gay marriage can make it anywhere. This paper will analyze the strength of Tom Toles' 2011 political cartoon commenting on New York's recent legalization of gay marriage, and show how Toles makes a good and subtle argument for the big impact that we can expect from New York's decision: gay marriage may soon be legal everywhere.
The cartoon is simple enough: the wedding cake is labeled "NY Gay Marriage," the groom and groom holding hands are in tuxedoes, and beside them at their feet is hiking gear: a pack, a pick ax, and rope leading down to the base of the cake. The cartoonist in the bottom corner of the box comments on the scene with the words, "Cake taken!" As though this truly did beat all. The scene is one of triumphalism -- and what it portends is a domino effect of liberalism: the gay agenda has finally climbed its way to the top of the social mountain and is on display for all to see and for all to bow down to. The cartoon uses the Sinatra tune to reinforce the notion that the world is now in the palms of homosexual activists' hands. The tone is ebullient and yet the picture is still odd. The contrast of celebration and the end of marriage as traditionally understood is a kind of double-edged sword: on the one hand it attempts to effect joy -- on the other hand it tends to effect a kind of sick feeling -- as in, "What have we done?"
As the caption suggests, the gay agenda is flying high and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. In fact, columnists are already pointing to signs of the domino effect that the New York's legalization has had -- everywhere reports of gay marriages are coming in -- from all over the world: Brazil, France, and now here in the United States. Even conservative politicians do not know where to stand on this issue: twenty years ago their party would not have supported gay rights -- but now one senses that the party can no longer support a stance that opposes them. As Dylan says, "The times they are a-changin'" -- and so is the opinion of Republican Senator Mark J. Grisanti: "With his position still undeclared, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo who had sought office promising to oppose same-sex marriage, told his colleagues he had agonized for months before concluding he had been wrong" (Confessore, Barbano 2011).
But that is not all: the four Republicans that voted for legalization in New York to push the ballot through received in return campaign funds. As reported by the New York Post, in David Seifman's (2011) article "Mike hail$ gay-nup GOPers," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg "said he would support Senate Republicans who stood up, and he did…Four Republican legislators who broke ranks with their colleagues to enact gay marriage in New York each received $10,300 campaign contributions from Mayor Bloomberg." That, of course, is only an example of monetary aid -- it is likely, as Grisanti contemplates crossing over to the Democratic Party, that other forms of aid will not be long in coming.
Of course, one need not hear of these reports to understand Toles' cartoon: the argument is persuasive and obvious enough to drive home the point loud and clear: gay marriage is happening and it is happening in a big way.
One way in which Toles effects the scope of the new law is that for gay activists it is like finally reaching the top of Mt. Everest (hence, the hiking gear, the whiteness of the…
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