A reader of the comics pages in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette calls my attention to this strip in the Saturday morning newspaper.


He recalled an episode in 2000 when the newspaper canceled the “Lola” comic strip because of its use of the word “fart.”

In announcing the Lola cancellation, the newspaper said then: “The comic strip Lola has been canceled. Tuesday’s strip, with a scatalogical [sic] joke, exceeded the boundaries of good taste for the comics pages.”


The newspaper published some 100 letters of protest. Executive Editor Griffin Smith jr. deplored defenders of “gratuitous language on the comics page of a family newspaper” and told one of his reporters: “I was surprised by the aggressively belligerent attitudes of the forces of vulgarity. .. This nation may be the first in history where some people feel superior precisely because they’re coarser and more vulgar than other people.”

This, of course, was before Donald Trump and the MAGA movement came along. Smith resigned from the newspaper in 2012. The executive editor position had been unfilled until recently when Publisher Walter Hussman’s daughter, Eliza Gaines, was promoted from managing editor to executive editor.


Readers were outraged about Lola, but the leadership of the paper was not moved. Said Deputy Managing Editor Frank Fellone at the time: “the level of mass media is constantly coarsening. For us, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the newspaper to not lapse into that coarsening as well.”

The comics editor just may have missed today’s turd in the newspaper punchbowl. They missed a “turd-blossom” several years after Lola’s fart in a Doonesbury strip employing George W. Bush’s nickname for Karl Rove. They also failed to catch the use of the derogative term  “pussies” in another Doonesbury. Fellone, now retired from his deputy managing editor role, said then something that well might apply today. He said the paper “regrettably missed” the use of the word and he’d be talking to the person responsible.

“We will continue to try and improve until we reach perfection,” Fellone said. “Some people don’t catch the futility of that statement.”