Dangerous Magic

(If thou desires embiggenation, thee must no more than click the image of thine desire.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Dangerous Magic.

It was another wild week at Rancho Bizarro. One of my cartoons caused an uproar of praise and condemnation from both sides of the trench (“aisle” seems too civilized for today’s political atmosphere) but more about that in a bit. And also my new home country of Mexico gave us a surprise gift in the form of this thing that popped up spontaneously in one of the flower pots that was already on our patio when we bought the place. I believe they call that a “volunteer”. Thank you, Madre Naturaleza.

Today’s super-size Sunday comic is about the dangers of magic. I have no doubt that this cartoon occurred to me entirely because I grew up watching The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, during which Bullwinkle would regularly pull dangerous animals out of his magician’s top hat. (Click the “Dangerous Magic” link above for an example.)

But in a larger sense, belief is a very strange and powerful thing in humans. We clearly need to believe in things that comfort us––hence the very existence of religion––but it also benefits us in many ways. Countless studies consistently demonstrate the power of placebo; that is to say that if you believe you are taking or doing something that will heal you, you very often will actually get better. The effects are somewhat limited in many ways and you may not be cured, but your belief about your illness or injury (and your treatment) are undeniably of major importance with demonstrable results. There is no point to my bringing this up other than that it interests me.

The genesis of this cartoon was that Olive Oyl and I were at Chris and Mitchell’s house and Chris gave O2 some sesame seeds for a recipe she was planning, but they weren’t toasted and we realized we didn’t have a sesame seed toaster. We chuckled over it and Chris said something about it perhaps making a good cartoon. You be the judge if Chris was right.

This cartoon about the Foundering Fathers caused the stir I mentioned in the opening of this post. Mainly, it got a LOT of likes and positive comments but it also got some negative responses both from expected and unexpected places. Generally, the responses can be placed in three categories:

  1. People who have compassion for members of society who have historically been pushed to the edges thought it was a funny, clever way to say that everyone in the U.S. should enjoy the same rights.
  2. People who wanted to critique the cartoon as though it were a history textbook wanted me to know that the men who wrote the Bill of Rights dressed that way because it was the style of the day and not because they were trans-anything. And others in the same general camp wanted me to know that the Founding Fathers would hate modern day liberals and that everyone already has the same rights and people should stop whining for special rights and privileges, and just be who God intended them to be.
  3. People who are for transgender rights but criticized the cartoon and me because it isn’t an accurate representation of transgender people, and that it leads people to believe that transgenders are nothing more than men who like to play dress up, which is a common misunderstanding by many people in group 2 above.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I’ve never succeeded before, so I’ll apologize ahead of time. This is a topic I care about and one that has a LOT of moving parts.

To group 1: Thanks, you got it. The only point I was trying to make is that all Americans should be granted the same rights and respect as long as nobody is getting hurt. Being different always leads to scorn by the small-minded and insecure but it needn’t and shouldn’t. That’s among the things that laws and bills of rights are meant to protect.

To group 2: This cartoon is not a history lesson. I know why they dressed the way they did and that they actually didn’t even intend for these rights to apply to everyone. Many of them owned human beings, for god’s sake. The rights in those documents were only guaranteed to land-owning, white males, and the guns they were guaranteeing Americans could bear in “a well regulated militia” were ancient, manual-load rifles from which one could, with enough practice, perhaps get off two shots per minute. I don’t personally think that the Founding Fathers were gods incapable of error, or possessed magical powers enabling them to see into the future and design the Constitution and Bill of Rights to account for every eventuality. And therefore, I think looking to them and their original intentions to dictate (rather than “guide”) our current laws is as foolish as looking to the Bible to determine what method of treatment you should seek if you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy. Good luck with that.

To group 3: When I create cartoons about rights for people outside the mainstream, I always get a small number of complaints from the very people whom I trying to support. At first I was surprised but now I’m starting to expect it. I fully realize that these complaints often come from the fact that transgender people (and many other non-hetero folks) have been maligned, ridiculed, attacked, prejudiced against and denied all kinds of things by the mainstream and so they want to be respected and understood and object when people describe them with inaccurate stereotypes. Fair enough. But the landscape of sexual possibilities is so large (and growing daily) that I sense that all you can realistically expect is respect; complete understanding will likely only come from people who are close enough to the issue to want to investigate the various names and definitions of the myriad orientations and situations. Most of us who support your struggle but aren’t facing those struggles ourselves probably aren’t going to concentrate on the details; we’re mostly just going to fall on the side of rights for everyone. I understand that my cartoon is not an accurate representation of transgender people but, only so much can be accomplished in a space that small. It’s not a pamphlet or a textbook or a documentary, it’s a simple connection between two topics that causes most people to smile and reminds everyone that this is an ongoing civil rights issue that is worth knowing about. I think that’s a good thing. If you insist that all references to these issues be completely accurate (by your personal definitions and standards) even in the case of cartoons, you’re going to eliminate a large amount of references entirely, including this cartoon; the gag would have vanished with the accuracy. In my view, reminding people of this issue is more important than getting the details exactly right and here’s why: Those readers who are for equal rights already know that transgenders are not just playing dress up and whining for special treatment, and those who are against equal rights will never care enough to understand the difference anyway.

And, finally, here’s why bathroom laws matter: Human sexuality is not a black and white issue, nor is it a frivolous choice that people make about what they want to do in bed. Each person’s sexual orientation is innate, genetically programmed, and an enormous part of who we are. In short, you didn’t choose what kind of person would turn you on sexually and neither does anyone else. If you’re a garden-variety heterosexual, you may not realize how important your sexual orientation is to your identity because it likely has never been challenged or scorned. Non-heterosexuals do not have that luxury.

Furthermore, human sexuality is extremely diverse and impossibly complex, and there are so many different orientations and preferences that you can’t hope to name and define them all, in spite of our almost comical attempts to do so. It’s not just gay or straight––it’s 10,000 things on a sliding scale that reaches out in a hundred different directions at once like a 200-year-old oak tree. My point is that there are far more people outside of the traditional heterosexual paradigm that society has labeled as “normal” than the average person who doesn’t hang out with the out-of-the-closet-crowd would ever guess. Far more. So to label someone that is different from you as a “pervert” to be scorned and feared, is both childish and inaccurate, and if you’re using your religion as an excuse to do so, it is archaically superstitious. People with epilepsy were commonly thought to be possessed by a demon. If you’re in the habit of openly disparaging non-heterosexuals, I can virtually guarantee you’ve unknowingly called your own friends and relatives perverts, and they probably smiled and took it on the chin out of fear of being ostracized by their community and loved ones. Congratulations. That is exactly what leads to large numbers of suicides among non-heterosexuals.

Opponents of equal rights for LGBTQs, routinely use the fear of encouraging sexual predators to hang out in women’s public restrooms as a reason for these “bathroom laws”. This is a complete red herring. National crime statistics do NOT in any way, shape, or form bear this out, in fact, they contradict this notion entirely. People who wish to commit crimes against women and children are not discouraged by restroom laws, and why would they be? It’s always been against the law to assault women and children, and that doesn’t stop them––why would a silly little bathroom law deter their violent urges?  What crime statistics DO show, however, is that transgender people who use public restrooms that do not match their “look” are regularly insulted, assaulted, and killed. If your concern for public safety is authentic and not just a disguise for your bigotry against people who are different from you, you should be voting for laws that allow people to use the facility that matches their sexual identity, not a box on their birth certificate. Period.

Many people have asked what civil rights are being denied to transgenders and the simple answer is the right to use a public restroom without being insulted, attacked, or killed. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Keep in mind that this same “imaginary predator” excuse was used to prevent blacks from being allowed to use the same restrooms as whites, and in propaganda campaigns against homosexuals. None of these arguments has any basis in reality.

I’ve had aquariums full of fish before but I always find them pretty boring. Once we had an African River Frog in an aquarium with water and he was sort of interesting. He made very strange noises late at night that echoed all over through house and that you wouldn’t immediately associate with a frog.

 

Someone commented on this cartoon that VHS is digital. I guess I don’t know the difference. It’s not a great cartoon anyway, so whatever.

This is my personal favorite cartoon of the week. Some readers asked what it meant, what’s the deal with the hat, that sort of thing. Others immediately got the subtext, that Moby was acting like a dick. A few others pointed out that Moby, the modern-day celebrity musician, is a descendent of Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, and that’s where his nickname, and his real name Richard Melville Hall came from. (If you’re not familiar with the basic premise of the classic novel, Moby Dick, this cartoon probably escapes you entirely. Time to visit Wikipedia.)

Lastly, I know Moby personally and have hung out with him a few times, though not in recent years. We’re more acquaintances than friends, but from what I can tell he’s a pretty nice guy, so this cartoon is not meant to be a character judgement of Moby. (Although Captain Ahab could definitely be an obsessive jackass.)

This cartoon about the abstract Egyptians reports to have 27 secret symbols. If you can’t find them all, take another look at the publication date.

Thanks for reading this far, Jazz Pickles. Please have a look below at the ways in which you can keep me eating and drawing daily! Until next week, be safe, be smart, be nice.

83 thoughts on “Dangerous Magic

  1. As a former TV engineer, I can officially report that VHS tapes are not digital They are analog recordings.
    So there.

    • I had a feeling he was wrong but don’t have enough confidence in my technology knowledge so I didn’t argue. Thanks, Bob!

    • The Maestro Piraro is saying that VHS tapes ARE analog and his new-fangled phone will CONVERT them to digital. The only error I detect is in your reading of the comic.
      So THERE!

      • Actually, Museum Guard is a friend of mine and was backing up my (cartoon’s) claim that VHS is analog after reporting in the blog post copy that an anonymous reader had corrected me and claimed that VHS was digital. :^}

  2. I own 100 VHS tapes. If they were digital, I could easily move them to my laptop. Still trying to find a way to do that without spending a lot of money on gadgets! Suggestions?

    • Sadly, I have no idea. I did that years ago at a professional service. Seems like it wasn’t all that expensive but I can’t really recall.

    • Roxio has a small gadget & software you can buy that will do this. You plug it into the output of your VHS player and into the USB of your computer. Play the tape while running capture software on the computer. It takes *TIME* to do it, but it’s only about $35 for the setup as opposed to paying someone $20 per tape. It’s what I did.

      Also, note that the magnetic media on tapes degrades over time. So if you have any tapes over about 15 years old, you’ll probably get ONE more play out of them before the brown stuff flakes off the clear plastic backing. Game over at that point.

      To do 100 tapes, you should try to find a VHS cleaner and running it through your VHS player between every 5 or 10 tapes, just to make sure everything is copacetic.

      Good luck!

  3. !!!! I LOVE the sesame seed toaster!!!!!! Hooray for Chris and hooray for the wonderful cartoon he inspired. It’s Hilarious!

    And EMBIGGENATION is a Brilliant word! Thank you!

  4. Several quick items:
    -VHS is analog.
    -Couldn’t your volunteer vegetation lead to trouble with local law enforcement?
    -True, expecting people to understand unfamiliar sexual practices or orientations is asking a lot, but asking them to respect it is going to be a very tough sell. I’m thinking it would be a major achievement if humans could simply learn to tolerate thinking and behavior they do not understand or agree with… and restrain themselves from assaulting (legally, verbally and physically) people with those traits. Here’s something to ponder: “A respected Russian newspaper says it has uncovered information that police in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up more than 100 men suspected of homosexuality and that at least three have been killed.” http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article142264719.html#fmp#storylink=cpy If this report is correct, it’s fair to assume Chechnyan police neither understand or respect LGBTQ. However, wouldn’t it be a giant step forward in human evolution if law enforcement, government and citizens there would simply tolerate LGBTQ folks… and give them the same rights and privileges as “straight” people? Seriously, is it that hard to shrug your shoulders and think, “Well, that’s not for me but if it works for them and no one is being harmed, what right do I have to judge or punish?”

    • Agreed on your LGBTQ policies. It’s just childish.

      Also, on the pot plant issue, apparently Mexico has a law that says that a person has the right to grow plants of any kind. So the cops don’t care if you’re growing pot. It’s the cartels you have to stay clear of, and they only care if you’re selling it to people who might otherwise be their customers. Which I’d never do.

  5. I had to steal the Ahab/Moby cartoon to share on FB – I’ll give you credit, Dan, although your sig should do it. Love the concept!

  6. So, according to your 4/1 cartoon, Ben Carson just picked the wrong STUFF for the pyramids to store? There are layers to this April Fools Onion!

  7. I turned my daughter on to Rocky & Bullwinkle at an impressionable age. When she was 9 we created a Bullwinkle costume for her. She went out with her mom and when she came back she was very angry because nobody knew who she was supposed to be.
    Cultural heathens.

    • This story horrifies and saddens me. When my daughter was young she was into I Love Lucy and The Beatles, and was made fun of at school for both.

    • Back around 1990, a joke showed up on Usenet (remember Usenet?)
      Bullwinkle: “Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a computer program out of my hat!”
      100 PROCEDURE DIVISION
      (and a few more lines of similar program)
      Rocky: “Better get another hat”

      The younger two members of our lab group recognized the COBOL program. They didn’t recognize Rocky and Bullwinkle. ARGH.

  8. I echo your assessment of the week’s best cartoon, Dan! That Ahab & Moby panel is nothing short of absolutely BRILLIANT!! I think that given my age (60), I am “just” young enough to know who Moby is and definitely old (and educated enough) to appreciate and recognize the “Moby Dick” link. When I saw it, I immediately burst out laughing and then showed it to a much younger work colleague (20-something) who also truly appreciates your attention to detail. He chuckled wryly.. turns out he had NO idea who “Moby” the artist is… I guess Moby just barely slipped under his “musical/cultural radar”. by a couple of years.

  9. I forgot:
    -Turtles are highly interesting creatures to watch in an aquarium filled with water (although they need a ramp where they can dry off under a UV lamp). They have distinct personalities and can learn to take food from your fingers (although they occasionally misjudge and pinch your finger tips if you’re not careful). Mine enjoy deli-sliced mesquite-smoked turkey as well as El Pollo Loco chicken. With proper care, they will live longly; mine are in their 30’s.
    -Sesame seed toaster is an excellent gag! Please take OO out for dinner this very eve!

  10. Enjoy the artist’s comments,
    You take this shit serious! (Only kidding)
    Enjoy your insight
    Ps
    I live in San Isidro Heredia Costa Rica for many years
    “I dig your meaning”

  11. Magician could’ve been Bullwinkle moose. When his ‘pull a rabbit outta my hat’ trick went wrong, once it was a snarling Rhino. ‘No doubt about it, I gotta get a new hat!’

  12. Thanks for secret symbols explaination. I’ve noticed them, but was clueless! Sexuality 10,000, wish it were taught in school. One person might be turned on by peanut butter and another having his/her elbow licked. So what?

  13. Hi there – I have a transgender grandchild and I loved the Foundering Fathers cartoon – and re-posted it on Facebook. My late husband was a cartoonist, and I have been a singer, so I totally get that you NEVER KNOW how people are going to receive your artistic efforts – but it seems to me that they react as themselves, with whatever baggage they bring to their exposure to your art. That is, it’s all about them, not you, or the art, especially.
    That said, keep up the good work. I enjoy your toons so much. Thank you.

  14. Love this week’s cartoons, Dan! Love Bullwinkle’s hat and the cartoons of that era–they just really don’t make them like that anymore, and it’s sad.
    If the alternate spellings of “registery” and “everthing” are part of the joke, then I missed those aspects entirely. Reminds me of “nucular” and “jewelery”, which are not words either (nuclear and jewelry are correct). May you never get to where I am in my old age: forgetting which letters are doubled in certain words, and forgetting others outright through disuse.
    Your “controversial” cartoon analysis and discussion of LGTBQ issues is spot on. If you have too much time on your hands, don’t use it make others feel bad–put it constructive use (read a book, volunteer…). Be more like the Monkees, who are too busy singing to put anybody down. If your religion makes you hate, find a new one. If you want to make or change laws because of your religion, move to Iran. American is not a theocracy–on purpose! If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry a gay. If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one. Simple.
    Thank you for your work, Dan. It is a beacon of light in these dark and uncertain times.

    • Much appreciation for your comments, Ross. I changed the two typos you (and some other readers) caught and am firing off a tangy email to my editor, who either should have told me about those corrections and didn’t, or did and I missed the alert and I have no one to blame but myself. In which case I’ll owe myself a tangy rebuke.

  15. VHS is analog, not digital. It stands for “Video Home System” and is the exact same technology, compacted down a bunch, developed by Ampex in the late 1950’s to record the TV signals of the day (which were all analog by default). It’s why Doc Brown in 1955 was able to play Marty’s recording made before he left 1985. Yes, I know it was a BetaMax camcorder, not VHS, but it’s still the same technology.

  16. I hope you don’t get into any legal trouble about that pot plant? Or are they relaxed about it in Mexico?

    You will be pleased to hear that here in South Africa, in a landmark decision, a local court found some days ago that the law against growing and using pot for personal use is unconstitutional as it is an infringement on people’s right to privacy. The government was given two years to make the required amendments.

    I.e., in short, the court effectively legalized marijuana. The government will likely appeal, and we can expect the whole thing to be a long process, but I think the breakthrough has been made; a victory for personal liberty.

    As for the controversial cartoon, i thought it was funny, and I urge you once again not to apologize to all the people who complain about it. Another great thing about personal liberty is that if you don’t like a cartoonist’s work, you are free to not look at it.

    I would have made some suggestions as to what these people can go do, but this is a family forum.

    • The Mexican gov is pretty chill about pot from what I’ve been told by locals who follow these things. Apparently they did a a similar thing recently by making it legal to grow any kind of plant that God gave us. If it’s for personal use, nobody is much going to care. If you try to sell it, you’re in more danger from cartels who don’t want you to steal their customers than from the cops. (Except the ones working for the cartels.)

  17. Wow. Mind blown.
    I posed that the right to bear arms should be the flintlocks available in the late 1700’s. My co workers told me not to be ridiculous.
    I considerately told my husband that I would show him the 9,000 names of God.
    Sex IS strange and wonderful and complicated. Fluid too hence the 9,000 names.
    I never peek under the stall door. You can pee where you want and I’m just glad we have sanitary plumbing.
    Love is love is love and all we need is love love is all we need.
    Ya ya

    • (Ignoring all the wonderful things people have said here about LGBT rights, and going for the gun thing instead.)
      The “militia” that the Founding wig-wearers acknowledged weren’t using ancient weapons – they were using New Shiny High-Tech muskets that a skilled user could get TWO rounds a minute out of, just as good as the weapons the British regular army had, and also they were using cannons, which were just as cannony, at least on terrain where that was practical.

      Colonial-period sexual mores in English North America ranged wildly by area and subculture, from the “no public displays of affection even for married people” to “yes, 1/3 of the brides are pregnant, that’s why they’re getting married after all”

  18. ❝I sense that all you can realistically expect is respect; complete understanding will likely only come from people who are close enough to the issue to want to investigate the various names and definitions of the myriad orientations and situations. Most of us who support your struggle but aren’t facing those struggles ourselves probably aren’t going to concentrate on the details; we’re mostly just going to fall on the side of rights for everyone.❞

    Really hitting the nail on the head here, nice and succinct. The rest of your passage is well worth reading, but this gets right to the heat of it!

  19. VHS is recorded on magnetic tape with a rotating head, scan line by scan line. I would consider that an analog media just as vinyl records, 8 track tapes, reel to reel tapes, AM radio and a slide rule. I’m 70 years old and have lived much of that trapped in an analog existence. Now I have the real possibility of being uploaded to the “cloud” when I die. Thank your for these great cartoons.

  20. Thank you for taking the time, energy and thought to write what you have about human sexuality.
    I’m tempted to cut & paste the whole shebang and drop into threads all over the internet which all too quickly, in my opinion, veer off into sanctimonious and/ or rabid condemnation of anything that isn’t (anyone who isn’t) “normal” according to the particular poster.
    FFS, “People ARE people” as that Depeche Mode song goes.

    (I’m a heterosexual woman, long-married, mom…)

    • Thanks for the endorsement, Pat. As long as I live I’ll never understand people who want to waste their time and energy hating other people for what they do in private.

      • There is a reason (though not a good one), and it goes back to the tribal nature of humans. Rule #1 was to grow your tribe (your community). The bigger the tribe the better – for hunting and gathering as well as defense and expanding territory. And especially since many humans didn’t live long – some not long enough even to procreate – humans were told to “Be fruitful, and multiply.” So anyone not adding to the population was considered wrong.
        Even “spilling seed” was sinful. Humans thought that semen was “seed” to be “planted” in a fertile female. They knew that seeds for food plants were limited, so it must be the same for semen.
        These rules were passed down and eventually written in the bible and elsewhere.
        But just because these rules may have been needed for survival way back when, they haven’t been needed for quite a while. So why do these “rules” still get taught? Because humans are still tribal in nature. It just means different things now.
        So the bible and other traditions are still applied and taught literally to humans.

  21. Bravo for your declarations (above) to those critics that couldn’t wrap their heads around your “Foundering Fathers” cartoon. It may fall on deaf ears or jaded, smug eyes, but at least you did it, and spot-on! Your wryness continues to please, amuse and periodically enlighten this fella!

  22. Well said on the transgender issue – your argument makes perfect sense. Don’t ever stop being controversial, that’s one of the many things that make your cartoons great.

    BTW, your friend who told you VHS was digital was incorrect. It was a 100% analog medium.

  23. VHS and Beta tapes were analog formats, not digital, Dan. You can tell those that say otherwise to shove off. They worked on roughly the same principle as audio cassette tapes. And I thought the joke was funny, too.

    I also think that your founding fathers joke made its point perfectly fine. No reason to apologize for, or explain it to people with no sense of humor.

  24. Surprised there aren’t a lot of comments, but in some ways there’s not a lot to say— you have eloquently expressed my exact feelings about some very complicated subjects. So I’ll just add:
    1. I love your cartoons and your thoughtful comments. Please keep doing both. And,
    2. The Moby cartoon made me laugh out loud. I got it immediately and admired the quirk in your brain that made you think of that.
    Thanks for everything.

    • Thanks for the nice words, FMD17! And…the reason there were no comments when you left this one is that I’d not read and approved them yet. I used to just let the comments post themselves but then some childish trolls abused the privilege and I had to go back to moderation.

  25. I have shared your Founding Fathers cartoon several times and now I’ve just shared your discussion beneath it. This is SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE! (Sorry for shouting, but, you know, it’s important.) Thank you for being so well spoken in your comments. I wish I could speak that clearly.

    • And thank you, Dave. SO much needs to be said about bigoted politics these days. We all need to pitch in and keep these topics in social media.

  26. As always I’m a fan of the realism in your art. You nailed the look of a typical hospital room, right down the to the ugly brown fake leather chair. Also, was that intended as a cameo appearance with you as the magician?

  27. 4/3/17: The importance of punctuation AND kerning (or is it keming)

    Yes, I know it’s actually tracking, but I couldn’t think of a good joke about tracking.

  28. once again, thank you for bringing some light to the topic of equality. I am glad that your work provokes commentary from any and all points of view, meaning they couldn’t just walk past it and not have it cause some sort of deeper contemplation. Rock on!

  29. Clearly I’m ignorant. Partner and I are in group 1. We knew about group 2, but I’m not sure who fits in group 3. I’m guessing these are non-transgender folks, those whom you didn’t actually address in the cartoon, but feel compelled to defend transgender people because they don’t know or understand what transgender people are experiencing, but feel guilty because they don’t know or understand. Did I make myself clear?

  30. Allow me to stretch the bounds of your tolerance to non-heterosexuals. Let’s consider, hypothetically someone might be attracted to people under the age of 18. Maybe that’s not so hypothetical. Maybe someone who’s 18 has sex with someone who’s 17. In the US, anyone under 18 is a minor and the above example would put the 18 year old in prison for a long time. But a lot of people age 17 have sex anyway, and in reality there’s hardly any difference between a 17 and 18 year old except for an arbitrary classification. Now let’s stretch the limit a bit further and say someone who’s 18 has sex with someone who’s 15. Now it gets complicated, and if that 15 year old is my child of course it gets rather personal!

    Obviously our society cannot tolerate this extreme. Is this good, or bad?

    • To continue:
      When society discovers someone with such an unpopular sexual orientation, even when not acted upon, the person ends up in prison and labeled a “predator” for life. We pretend to tolerate those who are homosexual, yet we start having trouble tolerating p–se-uals. At the far extremes are, for example, z–se-uals and p—philes, who are absolutely not tolerated. Should they be? Where do we draw the line? Should we draw a line? If we cannot tolerate EVERYONE, why are we pretending? Society now is generally (though not always) respectful of most other races and a few different sexual orientations, but the fact is, many groups are entirely marginalized – often, people who claim to be pro-gay-rights don’t respect other alternative orientations. Some heavy stuff to think on.

      (sorry about the bleeped-out words – this website’s filter is obviously not tolerant of other orientations!)

      • I think one obvious place society needs to draw a line is when there is a victim. Many people consider people under a “certain age” (which is obviously a moving target) not capable of knowing what is truly best for them and so there we have a potential victim. It isn’t a perfect solution, but creating a (more-or-less random) age after which a person is considered a “consenting adult” is the fix we’ve come up with.

        • The world is a complicated place. Humans have a natural tendency to attempt to classify and categorize everything. Yet, everything we experience is in shades of gray, analog – not digital computer bits of ones and zeros that are inherently classified. Sometimes it amuses me to explore the limits of our sometimes pathetic attempts to label everything (and everyone). I can never truly understand what I do not experience, though I try my best to be sympathetic toward others. Thanks for that reasonable and concise response.

    • We humans have so many problems surrounding sex that one hardly even knows where to start. I’m no fortune teller, but I don’t think this is going to be resolved any time soon.

    • There’s a Callahan’s Bar story which addresses your argument. It made me do a lot of thinking about age-of-consent laws. And my conclusion was that we have these laws for DAMN GOOD REASON, and if we start mucking about with them for the sake of outliers like the narrator of the story, we will do infinitely more harm than good to a huge number of children who are not that kind of outlier.

      So at root, the decision we’ve made about how to handle age of consent isn’t perfect, but it’s better than any other option available to us. Rather like democracy.

  31. Whoops – have you prepared your bunker? Loved todays cartoon. I understand your target is the conspiracy nut jobs but I figure you’ll take some knocks for the Holocaust comment.

    BTW – VHS tape converter cartoon. I never for a moment thought you were saying they were digital tapes. The cartoon’s pretty clear, it’s converting to digital. Everyone calling out on the supposition that you thought they were digital has misread the context – IMO

  32. OK… this has been driving me crazy for the last coupla days… on the Egyptian/pyramid toon, i have found 26 symbols. Where the heck is the 27th!
    I await yer reply with baited breathe, as I cannot sleep till this mystery is solved!

  33. So, two general points and a prepared spiel
    1. Thank you for discussing both the categorization of responses and responding to them on your “Founding Fathers” comic. I’m someone who has a mostly standard sexuality, but both as a Jew and just as a decent person want to stand up for people who have been unjustly judged or oppressed. It definitely is uncomfortable sometimes, when you are trying to be an ally, to have someone you are trying to support say “You aren’t being understanding” or criticize your attempt at being an ally, and I’m glad you have a good response to it: “Most of us who support your struggle but aren’t facing those struggles ourselves probably aren’t going to concentrate on the details; we’re mostly just going to fall on the side of rights for everyone.

    2. Thank you for, while giving it a lot of commentary, not letting the one issue consume all your time or commentary. It’s good to both see writer feedback, and not have the entire blog fixate on one issue. Glad to see how moderate (versus incised) you were in your discussion, and how reasonable people can be.

    Spiel: To back up your point that:
    “the guns they were guaranteeing Americans could bear in “a well regulated militia””
    The statement “A well regulated MILITIA, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” doesn’t actually guarantee anything about individual gun ownership. Despite courts interpreting it in favor of individual citizens, it could also mean that only “a well regulated militia” can, collectively, own arms, and I don’t see anything that mentions individual citizens. Just an interesting way the turn of phrase could mean something completely opposite of what most people think.

    • Yeah — the big thing to realize was that back then, militias were the closes thing there was to permanent “armed forces”. It was rather later that professional soldiers and armed police became dominant (which many would say was a big mistake).

  34. VHS was an analog format, for sure. However the person who said they were digital may have been confused because in the early days of digital AUDIO, S-VHS tapes were used to record digital data on machines such as the Alesis ADAT machine, early 890s.

  35. A: Chris was right about the cartoon.

    B: I am certain all the other items are hidden in the camel sculptures.

    C: Another triumph this week.

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