CSotD: Rules of Engagement




(Clay Jones)

Two of the more engaged people I know express outrage over those who are not engaged.

Jones, as is his wont, accompanies his cartoon with an essay on the topic of willful, deliberate ignorance, noting appropriately that it’s one thing for Deplorables to remain ignorant of the charges against their idol, quite another for those sworn to govern to avoid knowledge.

And he is right to single out Sen. Richard Burr (R-Idocracy) for handing out fidget spinners to help his colleagues sit quietly ignoring the testimony and preserving their ignorance.

I suppose, that if he instead had obtained 53 letters excusing them from attending on the basis of heel spurs, there would be nobody left to suggest the absence of a quorum and then God knows what mischief the Democrats might get up to.

Still, it reminds me of a classmate who distributed a pocketful of birdshot in the class of a particularly disliked teacher, the main difference being that 12-year-olds are not allowed to serve in the Senate.

But you are permitted to elect people who act like 12-year-old delinquents, and as noted here already, we have a distinct shortage of Ev Dirksens, Mark Hatfields, Howard Bakers and Barry Goldwaters.

I’m more compelled, however, by Telnaes’ condemnation of those who are not disengaged from society by design but simply by inclination.

She singles out those who justify their ignorance by declaring it all fixed, a witch hunt, a plot, and I get a grim kick out of TV interviews in the Capitol when the statue of Will Rogers is in the background, since he is the patron saint of those who believe the true wisdom is ignorance.

“It’s all fixed” is kin to those who proudly declare that they have never used algebra, which could mean they have never doubled a recipe or calculated how much paint they need for a room, but more often means they have no idea what algebra is and brag about it because they believe there is a type of homespun ignorance that is cute and clever.

And they’re neither ambitious nor confident enough to address their ignorance, which is pretty damn shameful in a world that contains Google.

There is, however, another bloc of people who are genuinely disengaged from the world without being mentally retarded or emotionally ill, who simply cruise along without strong social or societal connections.

I suspect that, rather than being utterly self-absorbed, they are, rather, lacking in self-respect and quietly assume that they don’t count.

Like Montag’s wife in Fahrenheit 451, they sit watching their mindless TV shows, more numb than blissful, and they comprise the 40% of people who rarely or never vote.

Which may be just as well but stands as a challenge to democracy. We once limited the vote to landowners, which effectively limited it to men and to white men, and that was wrong.


But extending the vote to whoever claims it does not extend it to all citizens because some will not engage. And not just a few but one in five, and this chart from the Pew Charitable Trust explains their reasoning.

I suppose there were Athenians who never went down to the agora except to shop, who didn’t want to hear Pericles speak, who didn’t care, perhaps didn’t even know, that they were at war with Sparta, and whose lives remained just as bland and pointless when the war was over and Athens had lost.

So it goes.


What do they care about?


Today’s Non Sequitur causes me to break my determination to stop paying attention to this matter, because it is one of the topics Montag’s wife would find fascinating.

Mostly, it reminds me of a time when a famous person bought a home on a small lake in a fairly isolated part of our circulation area, and our celebrity-obsessed editor caught wind of it.

Not everyone needs to be like the good folks of Cornish, NH, who not only helped JD Salinger preserve his wish for privacy but took some sport in sending literary groupies off on wild goose chases into the wilderness.

But I was appalled when that editor undertook to find out what house it was and ran a Page One story on the topic, with a photo of the building.

And I was not particularly surprised when the celebrity sold the property and presumably went off in search of a place where Montag’s wife was not editing the local paper.

I’m sure I’ll enjoy Wiley’s story arc, but I hope that, in real life, the kids get whatever level of privacy they seek.


More celebrity news

Joe Heller has one of several cartoons mourning the death of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant.

Someone posted that it was hard that Bryant had given up alcohol, sugar and fats and then died at 41 anyway, but we don’t know when the hour will come, and you might as well live a fit life for as long as you are given.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I explained to my grandkids that I wanted to live long enough to see them graduate, and to see their children graduate, and even to see their grandchildren graduate, which last seemed unlikely.

And that I had good doctors and would do as they advised, but that I could beat the cancer, then step out the hospital doors and be hit by a bus.

Bucket lists are for fools. Live now.


Though if you get 91, take it!

Guy Badeaux passes along this birthday celebration from Jules Fieffer, who sounds a lot like my mother, who is 95 and whose only long-term goal is to see this country rebound but whose personal matters are well in hand.

As should yours be, at any age.


And to end today’s ruminations with a smile, here’s a memory of a gathering Fieffer put together and which I had the great good fortune to enjoy. From left, Jeff Danziger, Feiffer, Edward Koren and Edward Sorel, with moderator Richard Stamelman.

All strongly engaged people.



3 thoughts on “CSotD: Rules of Engagement

  1. Almost too much to comment on. Feiffer! Personal hero, still batting. Good on him.

    “Time Is”! A stunning track on a classic album with a gorgeously evocative cover. It reminds me somewhat of “Excursion” by Henri Cross (sorry for the pallid colors–the original, at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA, looks more vibrant, and you can feel the breeze).

    And algebra. In a “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” strip, a teacher is asked for the Xth time “Are we ever going to have to use this in real life?” and replies “No, dear, you won’t. Only the smart children.”

  2. @ Paul: Hey, the Americans get to exploit Trump. We Canucks get to have some fun with Harry and Meghan. Personally, I think we got the better end of the bargain. 🙂

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