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Molly Ivins: The Pen Is Mightier

Liberal newspaper columnist Molly Ivins started writing in the '60s about, as she put it, "militant blacks, angry Indians, radical students, uppity women, and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers." She didn't quit until brutal cancer killed her in 2007.

Ivins found her voice in H. L. Mencken's "comfort-the-afflicted, afflict-the-comfortable" brand of commentary, and her talent for afflicting prompted guffaws in some circles and ridicule in others. Ivins's passion was social justice, and her tool, sharp satire. She called it "the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful," and she used it like a knife.

For a time, Ivins edited the Texas Observer, a reliably outraged journal that seemed likelier to be written from Boston than Austin. The California native who grew up in Houston wrote for the Dallas Times-Herald until it folded, and was a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for nearly a decade until she went the syndication route. The prize-winning journalist also wrote a number of books, almost all political in nature. She believed if she could make you laugh or wince, she could make you think.

—Larry Neal

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