Scott Roeder: Pro-Life Activist, Murderer, and Cartoon Plagiarist?
This week, anti-abortion activists staged an eBay auction to help raise a legal defense fund for Scott Roeder, who was charged with murdering abortion provider George Tiller back in May. With the auction, anti-abortion activists were hoping to capitalize on Roeder's newfound notoriety by selling off a series of his signed, pro-life memorabilia.
But before the items could hit the virtual auction block, eBay announced that the memorabilia would be removed from the Web site. In a statement, the company said that it would “not allow listings that promote or glorify violence, hate, racial or religious intolerance, or items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.”
St. Louis cartoonist Gary McCoy had a more personal beef with the auction: It totally ripped off his work.
Among the offending items listed for auction: A cartoon presumably penned by one of Roeder's fellow inmates and kindred spirits, Jason Dubrowski. The cartoon depicts a newspaper clipping that reads, "Late-term abortion provider killed. Pres. Obama 'shocked and outraged.'" Beyond the paper is the cartoon's ironic payoff: rows of graves, each marked "Aborted Baby." It's signed: To all you prolifers, thanks for your support. Scott Roeder.
McCoy, a conservative cartoonist who regularly addresses abortion in his work, published that very same image back on June 1—minus the alleged murderer's salutation. Today, Cagle Cartoons, which syndicates McCoy's work, recognized Roeder and Dubrowski's cartoon as a near replica of McCoy's effort, and called the incarcerated duo out for their plagiarism. As the syndicate's blog notes, Roeder "seems to admit" the theft in the cartoon's eBay listing: “His name is Jason Dubrowski and is one of the best artists I’ve seen in here . . . The drawing of the field of babies tombstones with the newspaper headline comments of Obama was done after a Christian newsletter printed this illustration which a lady in Valley Center sent to me.”
McCoy was not impressed with the tribute from "one of the best artists" in prison. "I was extremely upset to learn that my cartoon was being plagiarized in order to defend Scott Roeder," says McCoy, who was alerted to the misappropriation this morning by friends, colleagues, and even Roeder's estranged wife, Lindsey. Lindsey called McCoy to inform him that Roeder had previously sent both her and her son a copy of McCoy's original cartoon from prison. Clearly, Roeder was a fan.
McCoy claims he only intended the cartoon to condemn abortion, not support murder. "It was merely my attempt to comment on the contrast between Obama being outraged over Dr. Tiller’s murder, and his lack of action on abortion," says McCoy. "Look, I’m pro-life. But I don’t condone the killing of abortion doctors. Most legitimate pro-lifers condemn that action. Only the fanatical fringe do that sort of thing, and it really upsets us."
Roeder and Dubrowski aren't the only ones who have insulted McCoy's work this week. eBay's response to the auction "kind of irked me as well," says McCoy. "They say they don’t allow listings that promote or glorify violence, and it kind of bothers me that they thought my cartoon promoted violence. I'm glad they took the cartoon down, of course, but I wish they had made it clear that they removed it because it was a plagiarized cartoon, and not because my cartoon was violent."