One of the life lessons that should be learned early on is the one which teaches us not to get into arguments with the funny papers. This is a very good rule of thumb, but I bring it up because I am planing on dispensing with that sound advice today . . . but just for a day. Tomorrow I am back on the old regimen, and the cartoonists can say whatever they want.
Off to the right you may click on the image in order to read yesterday’s Doonesbury.
Now Garry Trudeau really does have a sense of humor, and I still read Doonesbury regularly — which means I am in a position to testify that I can still notice it from time to time. Unfortunately, as the nation has polarized, and as Trudeau has become more and more of a standard issue liberal, we have to content ourselves with glimmers of the old stuff. There was a day when he really was consistently irreverent.
But now . . . he creates a conservative comedian out of some old popsicle sticks, in order that he may interrupt that poor sap’s routine with a plodding, finger-wagging, pedantic, censorious, and prissy lecture.
As I write these words, a memory returns to me. After all these years it is still tender. One time I was with a group of kids doing an elementary school assembly, and I think it was because I was part of the Safety Patrol. The point of our little skit was, of course, safety, and we had a kid (it might have been me, actually) ride across the stage on a bicycle, and then disappear off stage. There was then some kind of pots n’ pans racket, and then we rolled a bicycle tire back onto the stage. I think it was pretty clever for a bunch of little kids, and it of course got a big laugh from those who had assembled to be edified. Now for one of the teachers the mere fact of the laughter was dangerously close to a high state of moral disorder, and she jumped up to remind all of us that safety was a serious issue. We aren’t kidding about this, children.
Trudeau — graduate of Yale, winner of the Pulitzer Prize when in his twenties, probably as rich as Michael Moore, that other great champion of the working classes — jumps in to remind us that the point of satire is to afflict the comfortable. And of course, as we should all know, the point of conservatism is just the opposite. Everyone knows how conservatives love to comfort the comfortable and to afflict the afflicted. Got it. Everybody knows how Colorado cake bakers love to kick the downtrodden. That is why we were simply forced to haul him off to his sensitivity training. We had no choice. After that is a stint in Humor Camp. We have to teach these people how to take a joke.
Of course, to encourage some who might be hesitant we should call it Good Humor Camp, only without any ice cream. We were not put on this earth for pleasure alone.
Like so many ideologues of the left, Trudeau simply cannot wrap his mind around the fact that he is the Man. He is the Establishment. He and his stripe run the show. Now I recognize that the bleeding edge Left of the sixties have kind of spent all their mojo. Now their ponytails are all gray, and they are the mere Left overs. But this doesn’t change the fact that they are in charge. Gloriously incompetent, true, but still the Man. Judging from the headlines, Zonker Harris is running pretty much everything these days, and doing so from the precise middle of a large cloud of sweet smoke.
Who gets defined as afflicted and who comfortable is a worldview decision — every worldview has a narrative, with the protagonists and antagonists assigned by the prior worldview commitments. And Trudeau lives in a bubble-wrapped world where Elizabeth Warren cannot be considered part of the comfortable classes. Has she not suffered persecution? Does she not have the high cheekbones that have made her minority status unquestionable? In such a world, Fauxcahontas jokes are unfunny by definition.
Of course, I can think of one defense of Trudeau in this. There is one legit reason why he might be missing what we are doing. After six years of Obama, conservative humor has shifted, and has gotten kind of mordant. Kind of like the jokes that Solzhenitsyn used to tell on those cold Siberian nights. You kind of have to be there.