CSotD: The Busy Bodies

Maria Scrivan is a pretty upbeat person, which makes today’s Half Full (AMS) particularly striking, because behind those lovely doughnuts she packs an exasperated punch.

Having worked in both advertising and commentary, I’m aware that there is nothing you can say, however plain, however obvious, that someone won’t misinterpret or, as in her cartoon, completely miss to begin with.

She lays it out well, because the solution, such as it is, is to keep it simple. A picture of your doughnuts, the name of your business, five words summarizing the main attributes of your products and a link to order.

But there is no such thing as keeping it too simple, and she includes a good selection of the simpletons who will miss the point, not just the ones who apparently can’t read, but the “It’s all about me” crowd who have to tell you about their dietary issues even though you’ve already addressed them, and the clod who has to leap in to disparage the whole thing.

The best part about this is that she made it about something so innocent, because she’s also shedding light on responses to things that matter a whole lot more without turning it into a debate about those particular issues.

Case in point:


First Dog in the Moon’s latest cartoon (the rest of which is here) is a furious attack on people who refuse to stop staring into other people’s underpants, and who are picking on little kids facing serious personal (as in “nobody else’s business”) issues.

He reports that he’s gotten more nasty pushback on this piece than usual, which is appalling because he’s always fierce and sarcastic, and I would expect him to be perpetually under attack for his stances on climate change, the treatment of aboriginal people and Australian politics in general.

But, as he documents in his piece, trans kids are being attacked not just by bigots on the street but by legislators in Australia, in the UK and in the US.

Or, as we might call them, “Bullies in High Places.”

And here’s what makes it more toxic and unforgiveable than racial bigotry: Black kids or Asian kids or whoever idiot legislators might target for racial hate at least have Black or Asian family members with whom to identify and take comfort.

But even when their families, their doctors, their teachers accept them, trans kids can feel alone and much more vulnerable to haters who, like Scrivan’s examples, miss the point entirely but feel a compulsion to weigh in anyway.

This sudden, universal interest in the genitals of very young people would shame Jeffrey Epstein, and I say that with regard to how depressingly often we find that the loudest prudes are speaking from within a closet.

I’m only slightly sympathetic in that, if you believe sexual orientation and sexual identity are deliberate choices, and you harbor an orientation or dysphoria that you have been taught is perverted, it must be very guilt-inducing and frightening.

But the people your hateful laws target are not the perverts.

You are, by means of your ignorance and your hypocrisy, and, as Samuel Johnson said,

If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards.

In this case, our primary obligation is to protect children, not only from bullies but from, as First Dog notes, depression and suicidal responses to being bullied on such a fundamental level of their identity.


The only comfort, I suppose, being that at least America isn’t the only place infested with these toxic, hateful busybodies.


Meanwhile, mass murder is almost entirely our problem, which Jack Ohman (WPWG) addresses with a cartoon that also addresses my problem with our obsessive but contradictory worship of the flag.

I’m old enough, O Best Beloved, to remember when the flag came to half-staff only on very rare occasions, and never mind lowering it every 15 minutes because my own view is that the top half of the staff is currently wasted.

We never use it. We display the flag at half-staff so regularly that it looks strange at the top of the pole.

Though being a nation of highly armed lunatics provides plenty of perfectly valid reasons for us to be in perpetual mourning.


I rushed to Google News the other day when I saw Bruce McKinnon‘s cartoon, wondering what horror had happened in Nova Scotia.

Turns out he was marking the anniversary of a mass shooting there, and it struck me as quite a luxury to be able to have mass murder so rare that you can draw a cartoon a year later and your readers will instantly know which tragedy you’re talking about.


As Matt Davies (AMS) puts it, American cartoonists are lucky to keep up with the shootings day by day, and I wonder if we won’t soon get to the point where, like traffic accidents, they simply aren’t national news anymore.

This definition by the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Criminology reads like a mordant attempt at humor:

And so it turns out that Davies’ cartoon was off target, because the local grocery store shooting that inspired his Newsday cartoon only resulted in two deaths, so it didn’t count.

But wotthehell, he could probably hold onto it for a few days until something local happens that does fit the definition.

There was a Zoom party the other night with about 30 editorial cartoonists, and one of the lively topics was about keeping pace, though we were speaking of police incidents with Black civilians, not mass shootings.

Still, there is a challenge in drawing a cartoon about some horror that won’t be made obsolete by a more shocking event before it even runs.

If, y’know, we’re still shocked by anything.


Signe Wilkinson (AMS) provides an answer, inspired by the Chauvin verdict but applicable at least to the saner miscreants among us.

It’s a reversal of 1984: We’re watching Big Brother.

Keep your guns in their holsters and your hands out of our children’s underpants.


3 thoughts on “CSotD: The Busy Bodies

  1. Takes four or more deaths to be a mass shooting? Thought it was four or more people hit. I’m sure it will big a big comfort to the person I know who has PTSD that she didn’t witness a mass shooting. It was only–what? Multiple people shot in a small amount of time. Just another day in the US.

  2. How long, do you suppose, before the police shoot a black person at the same time a mass shooting is taking place nearby?

  3. Thanx and more thanx for highlighting the Pro-Trans strip! We don’t see much of that! When I was young and desperate, I never even imagined the day when such a cartoon would exist.

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