CSotD: Priorities

Deb Milbrath saved me from running a blank panel by offering not only a comment that jibes with my own take but that stands out among a flood of cartoon commentary that you won’t be seeing here.

The Smith/Rock confrontation was not funny, nor is it a metaphor for anything except for our eagerness to dwell on foolishness when there are other things out there.

It may, however, be a sign of how cartoonists highlight stupid things because editors prefer them to more substantive observations.

Yesterday, I noted that, while nobody seemed to care for the awards themselves — the show drew the second-lowest ratings for an Oscars broadcast ever — everybody was fascinated by that momentary dust-up. I haven’t seen much to make me think I was wrong.

I returned to the topic, saying that I prefer assertive women and thought Jada Pinkett Smith should have either handled the matter herself, or told her husband to chill out.

I’m willing to stand by that as well, though I guess I should have emphasized “chill out and siddown” as my preferred response. Not to say it’s her fault, but the “knight in shining armor” approach is outdated to the point of foolishness.

When I fired up my computer at 4 am yesterday, social media was full of clips of the slap. By the time I filed five hours later, it was full of righteous indignation, and I remain ambivalent over which I like less — the vulgar fascination or the pearl-clutching sermonettes.

I hadn’t thought of my own experience as being all that gritty, but I guess it must have been, because I thought it was more stupid than horrifying.

Besides, the same thing happened several years ago at Juste Pour Rire in Montreal, when Jerry Sadowitz — who prides himself on doing offensive material — mocked the language issue in Quebec. The difference then was that the guy who jumped up on stage didn’t just slap him.

As Wikipedia reports:

Shouldn’t have happened then, either.

Point is, making fun of someone’s medical condition is in poor taste, and so is leaping up and slapping the perp.

As Milbrath suggests, we’ve got at least one somewhat larger crisis on our plates.

Will Smith has apologized, though a similar regret from Chris Rock circulating on social media is fraudulent.

I’m not surprised by that, either. BS is what the Internet does best.


While we’re on the topic of my allegedly gritty background, I’m dumbfounded that there is any debate over Clarence Thomas, Ginni Thomas and conflict of interest.

I don’t think Stuart Carlson (AMS) needed to draw the goofy face to make his point, because certainly the situation is glaringly clear, whether you think she’s “passionate” or “nuts.”

My gritty upbringing was that my dad was the assistant manager at the mines, so that, while we weren’t rich on a national scale, we had more than about 90 percent of my friends. I suspect that was why my parents emphasized the vulgarity of talking about money and the utter unacceptability of nepotism.

Perhaps that makes me more sensitive about people who don’t seem to get it, and to suspect that they certainly must at some level.

During Thomas’s confirmation hearings, I thought that he should have said, “I was going through a rough time in my personal life and I behaved like an ass. I should have apologized to Anita then; I certainly do now.”

The fact that he didn’t made me less concerned about what had happened between them than about his overall lack of character, which, as we see now, was not confined to one regrettable moment but is a sign of his overarching arrogance.


It reminds me of the opening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in which Butch begs the hapless gambler to invite them to stay so Sundance won’t kill him. “You don’t have to mean it or anything! Just ask us to stick around.”

Thomas couldn’t even pretend to be a decent man.

But, then, he didn’t have to. He got confirmed anyway, and there are several corrupt stories lurking behind that partisan mockery of the system, the only one I probably should disclose is that, when my GF and her daughter both graduated from college that spring, I broke my ethical restraint on journalistic neutrality by making a donation to Emily’s List in their names.

There’s still hope for justice in this world, or, at least, there is until this fall’s midterms, when we find out who shows up at the polls.

Meanwhile, Amanda Carpenter has a piece at the Bulwark headlined “Is Ginni Thomas’s Story Believable? Let’s Apply Some Common-Sense Tests” and it’s both well-reasoned and entertaining.

As she notes, even if Ginni never mentioned what she thought about things or what she did all day while Clarence was off judiciacating, he could not possibly have missed the flood of major news stories about her political hijinx and the obvious conflict she put him in.

Including, as she cites, Jane Mayer’s stunning New Yorker story, in which Mayer pointed out a few examples of more ethically attuned SCOTUS couples: Justice Ginsburg’s husband resigned from his law firm to avoid conflicts, Justice Roberts’ wife resigned from her law firm and also from “a leadership role in Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group.”

Meanwhile, Justice Breyer recuses himself from any case heard by his brother, a federal judge.

But I guess decency and ethics are anachronisms.


I did snicker at Ed Hall’s proposal of how this all works out, because, while I’m not much into insult humor, I do like dark comedy.

In this case, the insult is not aimed Clarence and Ginni but is coming from them, and, if nothing more happens, the darkness won’t be comic.


Consumer Tip

Dave Granlund points out Netflix’s plan to stop people from sharing their passwords, which costs the company an estimated $6 billion annually. I’m not always in favor of “preserving stockholder value,” but I think in their place, that’s a hole I’d want to plug.

I mention it now because CNN is rolling out its streaming service, CNN+, and early subscribers get a lifetime rate of $2.99 a month.

Not as cheap as theft of services, mind you, but it would give you standing to keep debating ethics.