CSotD: Living in a Binary World

Indeed there is, Rat. Indeed there is.

Pearls Before Swine has become a bit preachy lately, but we’re in a crisis and I’ll give Stephan Pastis credit for knowing it early enough that, despite a few weeks lead time, he dropped this at the moment when our government decided to hide evidence of foreign interference in elections and political opponents started shooting each other in the streets.


It’s depressing and the Wise Ass on the Hill is right: It’s mostly our own fault, as Andertoons agrees.

Again, it’s great timing, because we’ve also just seen two examples of newspapers deciding it’s bad business to challenge your readers with contrary opinions.

The Laconia Daily Sun, a small, five-day freebie, has decided to stop running political cartoons at all, while the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, a similar sized paper that isn’t free, will now run Mallard Filmore instead of political panels, in order to present their readers with a comforting, uniformly rightwing viewpoint.

Meanwhile, a social studies teacher who might have drawn a reprimand for sparking a potentially divisive conversation on race, apparently without presenting balancing viewpoints, has instead drawn a demand from the governor of Texas that he be fired.

Which would be more ludicrous if Texas weren’t large enough to veto the content of textbooks used around the nation.

Wiping out stupidity is gonna be a little harder than the Wise Ass on the Hill thought.


The faults are not all on one side of the spectrum. Today’s Candorville presents an example of driving out Bad History with Other Bad History.

It’s not whether Lionel is correct in his facts but whether he is fair in his interpretation.

For instance, it’s true that the skirmish at Jumonville Glen is often cited as the proximate cause of the Seven Years War, but it’s a great deal more complex than simply blaming that incident or the officer in charge.

And it’s certainly a stretch to call it the cause of the “world war” which followed and which was essentially a resumption of the War of the Austrian Succession. 

The issue of veterans’ Bounty Lands is even more complex, with Washington apparently protecting veterans’ rights but taking a nice commission for himself.

The wider point is that

A. You can make anyone look bad or good, depending on which aspects of their life you emphasize.

B. History is not binary. If someone is shown to not be All Good, it does not follow that they are therefore All Bad, and vice-versa.


Which applies both in the classroom and in the streets. Bob Moran is not incorrect in suggesting that rioting and violence provides Trump with a political argument he can turn to advantage.

But he’s wrong to conflate the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole with the violent leftists at its fringe, and, for that matter, with intellectual leftists who justify the actions of violent extremists.

The question being whether it’s up to Bob Moran to eddikate himself or for BLM to stifle the screwballs.

People who believe in a binary world do not want to hear that it’s probably some of both.

However, the shootings and bombings in Ulster didn’t end until there was a bipartisan, street-level insistence that it had to stop, coupled with the departure of hardliners like Thatcher, and the start of movements, grassroots and governmental, to offer jobs and economic opportunities in both nationalist and loyalist ghettoes.

None of which were binary, all of which were alternatives to finger-pointing.

Which brings us to our


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Kevin Necessary)


(Mike Thompson)

I noted recently that very few dumb jocks make it to Division One college programs, and far fewer still can handle the demands of professional sports.

But it takes an almost deliberate form of stupidity to ignore, or, worse, to condemn, the actions of professional athletes who have stood down, and stood up, in support of fairness and justice.

I find little to distinguish the closed-minded weenie who hates all sports, and therefore hates the people who play them, from Massa Laura Ingraham, who told Lebron James to “Shut up and dribble” two years ago, when he got all uppity and spoke out about racial injustice.

To which he responded

We will definitely not shut up and dribble. … I mean too much to society, too much to the youth, too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out.

What has impressed me in the current situation has been that sense that professional athletes have been given a privileged platform and, therefore, a responsibility.

It’s not new: In 1993, when Charles Barkley made a Nike commercial declaring that he wasn’t a role model, Karl Malone rebuked him with an inspiring essay in Sports Illustrated.

I don’t think we can accept all the glory and the money that comes with being a famous athlete and not accept the responsibility of being a role model, of knowing that kids and even some adults are watching us and looking for us to set an example. I mean, why do we get endorsements in the first place? Because there are people who will follow our lead and buy a certain sneaker or cereal because we use it.

The NBA, as Thompson notes, seems to be getting most of the attention, because they called a halt in the middle of their playoffs, but players — Black, white and Latino — have likewise stood upon their platforms in baseball, football, tennis and other sports.

And so the Mets and Marlins walk off the field, and Naomi Osaka declines to play in the semifinals of a tournament, and NBA owners have offered their stadiums as voting places.

I mostly follow the NFL, where two things have struck me in this:

One is a frequent observation from players that their owners are among the largest donors to Republican politics and that they want that influence leveraged.

The other is that the “old guys” who used to shut up and dribble are in awe of the young guys who won’t.

They — we — have always known what has happening, and this is no time to be a spectator.




6 thoughts on “CSotD: Living in a Binary World

  1. I have read in several places that much (or at least some) of the rioting and violence has, in fact, been done by some people in white supremacist groups who masquerade as BLM or antifa (and I am still confused as to whether some actual antifa group exists). Many videos I have seen are of white people breaking store windows and looting. Perhaps “very fine people on both sides” have been rioting and looting.
    The suggestion to have BLM or the Democrats rein these people in seems as reasonable as asking the NRA to rein in mass shooters or asking Trump to rein in the white militias and white supremacist people shooting, killing and driving into crowds. Although personally I believe Trump is seeing the exact results he was hoping for.
    Just my thoughts and perceptions.

  2. I like both Pearls Before Swine and Candorville. The thing is, Pastis tells me (rightly) to read more and learn, but Bell forces me to read more and learn.

  3. I don’t remember Republicans telling Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts, Steve Largent, Jim Bunning, Jim Ryun, Tom Osborne, et al. to shut up and dribble (or tackle, or whatever).

    What athlete do you have that I already agree with?

  4. It was only a matter of time before the war of words became a shooting war. As usual, most of the shooting has come from the Far Right, although one of Trump’s people did get killed in Portland. Well, that’s one. As a devout centrist, I can usually find blame on both sides, but lately it’s been more difficult. I’ll argue that none of the protesters or counter protesters would have died if Trump supporters would have just stayed home. It’s not their fight, and they have no business being there. The police, with their machine guns and armored vehicles, seem perfectly capable of defending themselves. They don’t need vigilantes to ” help” them.

  5. I’m one of those “weenies” or whatever it was that hate sports, but I am okay with sports celebrities mouthing off about politics—politicians’ profession is mouthing off so it sounds like the sports ball guys and gals are actually overqualified.

    It is unfortunate that celebrities have such outsized influence on a segment of our society, but I recognize the same characteristic in myself. Luckily, it isn’t likely any of my heroes will come out in favor of the Nazi party or cloning Trump since they’re mostly dead.

    Except you, Mike.

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