CSotD: Mother’s Day and our Freedom of Dissembly


Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.
Your mother brings you into the world, carries you first in her body. What do we
know about what she feels? But whatever she feels, it, at least, must be real. It
must be. What are our ideas or ambitions? Play. Ideas! Why, that bloody bleating
goat Temple has ideas. MacCann has ideas too. Every jackass going the roads
thinks he has ideas.  — Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


I don’t know that anybody really enjoys breakfast in bed, which seems awfully clumsy at best and, in Mother’s Day cartoons, is never well prepared. I suspect the appeal is in being pampered rather than in the event itself.

But what do I know? I’m also more in favor of giving plants than cut flowers, and I have been made to understand that this level of practicality is not considered romantic.

And the quote from Joyce that led things off is from Stephen Dedalus’s friend Cranly. Dedalus himself had a much more fraught relationship with his poor old mum.

To be honest, what attracted me to this Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee (KFS) strip is the fact that John Hambrock is one of the very few cartoonists who was apparently paying attention in English class when the topic of meter in poetry came up.

NOTH-ing was HEARD in the ROOM but the HUR-ry-ing PEN of the STRIP-ling

Seventh grade, The Courtship of Miles Standish, Part Two.

Probably helps that his colorist and wife is a musician and so both sees the strip before publication and understands beats and rhythm.


So today is Mother’s Day, and this Real Life Adventure (AMS) sent me not quite so far back as seventh grade, but to a time in the days of corded phones and Ma Bell’s limited long-distance capacity, when calling Mom on Mother’s Day was an extended process of dialing into busy circuits, hanging up and dialing again, repeated until you finally got through to a busy signal because one of your sibs was yapping at the old lady.

The good thing being that it was Sunday, so that, if you could get through, you’d get the low rate-per-minute, which we old folks understand but will mystify a lot of under-40s.

But this Mother’s Day, they’re waking up to a whole other bit of old-style reality:


Ann Telnaes puts the day in perspective: It’s a holiday for the good little girls who do as they are told and behave in a way that might well be approved by Myles Standish.

In fact, she used Puritan imagery in a cartoon a few days ago and caught flak from a few readers who noted that the Puritans were Protestants and she should have dressed these mostly-Catholic justices as Spanish Inquisitors instead.

But intolerance in America has always been an equal-opportunity game. I take comfort, as Longfellow intended, in the fact that Priscilla Mullins married the aforementioned stripling rather than blustering Myles Standish, and even more that their son who was his ancestor moved to Rhode Island, where religious freedom meant more than “freedom to do what we tell you.”

But rather than quibble over Puritans and Pilgrims and Torquemada and such, let’s quibble over the need for accuracy in the current debate.

Did the Justices lie in their confirmation hearings?

Well, they dissembled.

It’s not quite the same thing as lying. They did say they thought Roe v Wade was established precedent, but they also all said they wouldn’t discuss how they might rule on a particular case.

If your mother asks if you washed your hands, you can say “yes” without lying, even if you only dipped them under the faucet rather than soaping up and singing “Happy Birthday,” as you know damn well she meant.


Dissembling isn’t lying. It’s more like pretending you’ve read Alito’s leaked draft when you haven’t, and “quoting” something that isn’t in it.

As @nycsouthpaw notes, the purported quote is contained in a footnote, does not mention Barrett, and comes from a 2008 CDC statistical report on adoptions.

In oral arguments, Barrett suggested that adoption is an equivalent solution to abortion, but, although she has several adopted children herself, her reasoning assumes that most abortions are for the personal convenience of selfish women.

It’s an attitude more aligned with witch hunts than with Christian compassion.

Besides, there were plenty of hints: Conservatives were outraged when Barrett’s cultish affiliations were raised during her nomination.

Anyone who didn’t see through the charade is more fool than victim. The justices were not honest, but they didn’t commit perjury.

Still, the point is that there’s no reason you can’t fight passionately and honestly. Barrett never said anything about the “domestic supply of infants.”

And when Jonathan Swift did, he was joking.


For my part, I’m still furious about the dissembling that killed the Equal Rights Amendment back in 1972, when Shaw McCutcheon drew this hopeful cartoon.

The Amendment seemed to be sailing towards ratification, with the approval of both Houses and 22 of the necessary 38 state legislatures, despite warnings from a few foot-draggers that it would lead to unisex bathrooms and women being drafted for the war.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(The Small Society)

(Yardley Jones)

A few of those foot-draggers mocked the women’s movement just as the ERA was clearing Congress, though it’s not clear they had the amendment itself in their sights.

But this was a good decade and a half before Rush Limbaugh began hiding under his bed from the feminazis, and half a century before conservative pedophile Matt Gaetz whined about “over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches.”

As we honor our mothers in this stinking dunghill of a world, let’s not forget those who assured women that they didn’t need the ERA, that they were protected by the 14th Amendment and that their rights were fully protected already.

And that all that dissembling wasn’t just coming from men:

(readable text here)

It was also when people began observing that “Men of quality are not threatened by women of equality.”

Which hasn’t changed.

Keep on keepin’ on.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Mother’s Day and our Freedom of Dissembly

  1. The mockery in that Yardley Jones panel is reminiscent of how many of an earlier generation of cartoonists portrayed woman voters.

  2. Seeing Yardley Jones reassured me that Chip Bok isn’t all that origiinal. (FWIW)

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