Andrew Breitbart famously said, “Pop culture is downstream from politics.” So why did so-called freedom and liberty organizations ignore New York City Comic Con? Planned Parenthood showed up, with a panel being held to discuss an upcoming comic book anthology benefiting the abortion provider. Via BleedingCool.com:
“It drives me f-cking nuts,” [ comic book writer Mindy ] Newell shared, in what would be one of many F-bombs dropped by the veteran comic creator and longtime nurse.
Newell was expressing frustration with what she described as a false portrait by anti-abortion activists that women who receive abortions do so casually.
“[The patients] all have tears in their eyes,” she noted emotionally, adding “I’ve been a nurse for 40 years — nobody goes into the operating room not feeling horrible about this decision, but also knowing its the right one.”
Mike Gold (of DC and First Comics fame) granted that anti-abortion activists have every right to object to Planned Parenthood, but that “their right ends with them.”
There are going to be people who read this and say, “So what? It’s a comic book convention…no one cares.” But they’re being shortsighted in their opinion because of the events are pretty popular. Over 180k people went through NYCC doors last year, and attendance probably increased this year. These aren’t “just millennials” going to conventions, but folks of all ages, lifestyles, income groups, and political ideologies. It’s a ripe opportunity for freedom and liberty folks to sow some seeds.
One thing which is true is the proliferation of bigger government folks in the comic book industry. A majority of writers and artists voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, while others have promoted Bernie Sanders. There are still opportunities for people who believe in smaller, weaker government, and comic creators who believe the same thing. Former Green Arrow writer and artist Mike Grell is a libertarian, Frank Miller’s politics lean libertarian, and Bane co-creator Chuck Dixon is an avowed conservative. Colorist/artist Matt Battaglia is also libertarian-ish, and has written at the The Federalist on a variety of issues, and done work with Free the People. There’s nothing stopping a freedom and liberty group from holding their own panel with one of these creators.
There are also transpartisan issues which can be discussed at a comic con whether it be justice reform, government spying, Internet freedom, or drug policy. Reason or Cato or FreedomWorks could co-host a panel on one of these issues, if they so desire featuring one of the above mentioned creators or someone else willing to give their opinion. Imagine a panel on government spying with Grell, Battaglia, Brian Wood (who isn’t a conservative or libertarian), and someone like Peter Suderman or Matt Kibbe? Or a discussion on censorship in comics featuring creators, Reason, Cato, and the ACLU. Or talks about the military in comic books. Certainly not a bad thing, right? Of course, this is only if they’re willing to participate. There are rumors of conservatives and libertarians being shut out of the comic industry, so the creators may want to keep their politics under wrap.
The good news is freedom and liberty groups are starting to wade into more pop culture events. Both Cato and Reason were involved with SXSW, the massive festival held in Austin, discussing government spying, cryptocurrency, and universal income. Heritage Foundation was also at SXSW. There could be talks next year on licensing and teen sexting laws. So freedom and liberty groups are slipping into the events, but they need to do more.
The question is obviously funding. Money is always tight with non-profits, especially when “their party” is in control of Congress and the White House. One thing conservatives tend to fail at is trusting their own politicians when they’re in power a little too much. Thus, it’s easier to raise cash when Democrats are in power. It’s the difficult nature of political activism, and how unpredictable it can be. The question is also whether event organizers will let freedom and liberty groups in, which is why picking the “right” issue is so crucial.
It doesn’t mean the effort shouldn’t be made, especially as one generation of voters takes over for the other. There is evidence suggesting more and more millennials believe the government is too involved in our lives, meaning the ground is fertile for freedom and liberty folks to push their way in. They just need to think even more outside the box, and go to places like NYCC or San Diego Comic Con. Heck, it might even dispel some of the ridiculous myths about freedom and liberty folks, and help show others why “freedom” doesn’t mean more government spending and intervention into our lives.