Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dishonest Darrin Bell

*** Update 7/7: On further reflection, Scott's right: I'm wrong to call him dishonest. I regret using that word, and I apologized in the comments to his post. He sincerely believes in what he wrote (I mean the "jingoistic frenzy" thing), and there's nothing dishonest about that. ***

[Welcome to my planet, Candorville readers! Check out my update below.]

Darrin Bell, author of the comic Candorville, makes this blatantly false claim about Condoleeza Rice:

In fact, she didn't say "bracket insert name bracket." [Please forgive this clunky segueway. I dashed it off too quickly. How's this for a more thoughtful one: As though Ms. Rice would substitute Honduras or Switzerland for Iran or North Korea. Might that help you consider the content a little better, instead of getting stuck here? ]

President Bush, 2002 State of the Union address:

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. ...

States like these [Iraq, Iran, and North Korea], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.

Those words are as relevant today as they were then.

I suppose nobody claims Candorville is serious analysis. But at least he could be honest (especially with "candor" in the title). Alas, I ask for so much.

Update 7/7: It's impossible for some to believe, but the Bush administration actually evaluates each nation by its own actions and words. Iran, Iraq and North Korea weren't drawn from a hat for their place in his "axis of evil." They earned their place. What would it take for Darrin, and those who buy into the same "jingoistic frenzy" rhetoric, to actually consider that instead of glossing over it in reaction to Bush?


Further thinking (updated 7/6)...

The title. "Dishonest" is a little too strident. I feel kinda bad. But my alternatives seem more offensive. I'll let it stand. Update 7/7: Nope. I'm wrong to call him dishonest. He's playing on a theme I think is poorly thought out, but he sincerely believes it. That's not dishonest. Mistaken, but not dishonest.

In case you're wondering: Satire is fine. Satire isn't fair. Nobody (including me) expects it to be. Distortions can make caricatures funnier (if more absurd). How far to take them? Pretty subjective.

Cartoonists can have bad days. Everybody has bad days. You know I do. No problem.

Boiling it down, spelling it out: Satire is "irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity." But if, instead of "folly, vice, or stupidity," you substitute "the satirist's own complete fabrication," then attack that with "irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit," it's not really satire.

In fact, it's more of a scam, a fallacy. And helping you see that is what this blog is about. (And I gladly bear any ridicule for it.)

Even bigger issues. Even if it's not technically satire, why the humorless nitpick? I hope you're not too offended by this, but "satire" for many is really more about stroking our prejudices and pathologies than making us laugh. The bigger the satirical distortion, the more this seems true.

Special thanks. Maude: Thanks very much for the "segway/segue" correction.


(Please keep in mind that each commenter's opinions are only his/her own.)

Wow. You have really gone off the deep end, you know it? It's a comic strip for crying out loud! No sane person reading the comic would believe that he was actually quoting Rice. He was making a statement about the similarities between the administration's statements regarding Iran and Iraq.

You must be really hard-up for material to defend your favorite administration.

Alas, poor James, I knew him well...

Oh, Scott. Did Jim tread on your sacred ground...comics? Our household appreciates GOOD satire (ie the Colbert Report). I see see why it bugged Jim, since the accusations that Condi is a puppet for the administration are tiresome, though I'm not sure it was worth his time to blog about it since there's more influencial material out there than this.

Nice try.

I doubt there's "more influential" satire than a comic strip. "Colbert's" great, but it reaches maybe half a million people, while comic strips like Candorville reach tens of millions every day.

James didn't tread on anyone's sacred ground, James just seems to not understand a good (yes, good) joke when he sees one.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tread on my sacred ground? LOL! Nobody rips apart comics like comic fans do, Kirsten. I used to write reviews of them myself!

Alas, no. That wasn't it at all. Up until now, I simply hadn't realized how desperate Jim was for material to criticize.

Scott: I wish your concept of the "off deep end" carried more weight with me.

Scott says, "Up until now, I simply hadn't realized how desperate Jim was for material to criticize."

Doesn't that suggest Bush's critics are themselves silent? Shouldn't you be enraged by that?

Maybe I'm just desperate for intelligent Bush-bashing material. That's sure in short supply.

P.S.: I think my favorite administration was Reagan's.

P.P.S.: That comment I deleted was spam.

Scott - One last comment, since I think this whole discussion is a bit silly and going nowhere. When I saw Jim's post I wondered if he was passive aggressively trying to push your buttons. :>)


It seems to me that nothing I ever say will "carry much weight" with you Jim. I don't take it personal, though as I attribute that fact to your close mindedness more than the way I express myself.

I can't believe I need to elaborate on this, but here you go. Let's see if I can explain this better for you. My point was simply that you're talking about a comic strip as if it were serious intellectual political debate. That doesn't seem a little odd to you? Sure, it's meant to provoke thought, but to call the creator dishonest? I think that to truly be dishonest, he would have to first legitimately believe that someone would think he were, in fact, quoting Condi Rice. I hardly believe that to be the case. It's not unlike your previous defense of Bush ("was he really LYING"?). Capice?

Now. Explain to me, precisely, how stating that you, Jim Bell, seem desperate for material (or desperate to push my buttons, as your wife indicates) suggests that Bush critics are silent. Are they? Seems to me that there's plenty of criticism to be found.

And, if they were silent, why should that enrage me? I have my pet peeves, to be sure, but rage is something I try to keep to a minimum. I think we've had a similar discussion about this before....

Scott: "I think that to truly be dishonest, he would have to first legitimately believe that someone would think he were, in fact, quoting Condi Rice."

I think you're right. I updated my post and apologized in Darrin's comments. (And gave you credit.)

"I have my pet peeves, to be sure, but rage is something I try to keep to a minimum."

I dunno. All that Bush-bashing you do sure smells like rage.

I'm glad we all agree that comic strips aren't intellectual political debate (except for Miss Tiffany who must be related to Darrin Bell or something).

Jim, you are a good man to admit when you stand corrected. Not many people are humble enough to thoughtfully consider another's perspectives these days...let alone admit when they may have changed their mind.

Jim: "I dunno. All that Bush-bashing you do sure smells like rage."

That doesn't surprise me. I believe you think this, however, because you take it too personally.

Scott: "I believe you think this, however, because you take it too personally."

Thus we're each left with our subjective evaluations.

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