Jonesy offers an historical/political start to an examination of cartoons that, upon giving them some thought, aren’t funny, because this one did make me smile.
It is, of course, a gag about the famous Christmas truce of WWI, in which British and German troops stopped shooting at each other and played football in No Man’s Land.
It was a moment hard to reproduce. I remember a letter from a family friend stationed in Vietnam in which he dismissed our publicized “Christmas ceasefire,” saying he had killed a man Christmas morning.
But apparently this truce really happened, World War I having been a dividing line between the old days of glorious war and the modern world of not bullshitting one another.
And so the heart of Jonesy’s cartoon is a Bill Mauldin-style slap at officers that posits a case of them overruling the enlisted men’s desire for football and playing polo instead. Which is funny.
Except that one of the grim truths of WWI was that it served as a great leveler, in which working-class privates and Oxford-educated officers shared not only the mud of the trenches but the machinegun fire and mustard gas as well. The rear echelon, at least on the Allied side, was quite narrow and there wasn’t a lot of room to hide from the war itself.
The result was that, when those who came home came home, there was a substantial reordering not just of labor and management, but, in places like Ireland, of who was in charge at all.
If you’re looking for Christmas presents, you might consider Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, her memoir of being a nurse in the war, or Robert Graves’ autobiographical Good-Bye to All That, about his life in the trenches, with his pal, Mad Jack.
Both writers, as it happens, voluntarily interrupted educations at Oxford in favor of service. (Mad Jack was a Cambridge man.)
Pros and Cons (KFS) also gets a laugh while sparking a serious response.
I sat on a jury in which a young man was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but it seemed such an obvious case of self-defense that we acquitted him on our first straw vote. Later, his public defender told me how often defendants like him are bullied into pleading guilty to a lesser charge rather than risk a major sentence, when going to trial with a competent, dedicated defense would have exonerated them.
I’ve also known public defenders to open the files on a case for the first time in the courtroom. It’s not so much incompetence as absurd workloads, but that hardly matters to the person on the receiving end of a flawed system.
You hear authoritarian types complain that plea-bargains allow felons to avoid longer, more appropriate sentences, but that knife cuts both ways, and there are also inmates who shouldn’t be in there at all.
I was glad to help one of them avoid the trap, because he was kind of a dumbass, but, goddammit, he was an innocent dumbass.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Speaking of authoritarian types, Whamond takes on Kevin McCarthy’s split personality, in which he praises the Constitution while leading a House caucus devoted to undermining it.
That’s not partisan sniping, but a comment about Dear Ex-Leader’s statement that the Constitution should be terminated and the GOP’s lukewarm stepping away from the disloyal notion.
McCarthy is the right person to lead this schizophrenic crusade, since he denounced Trump in the immediate wake of the attempted coup, then hurried to Mar A Lago to get back on Dear Leader’s good side.
As for the unbridled free speech Walters defends, McCarthy at one point proposed that election deniers be taken off Twitter, before he held up a finger to see which way the wind was blowing and reversed his position.
Anyone still on Twitter can see how Elon Musk’s vision of “free speech” has resulted in the unleashing of not just whackadoodle nazis and QAnon lunatics, but disinformation and propaganda from elected officials like Sen. Rick Scott, who is still flogging that lie about 87,000 IRS agents, and Rep Brian Mast, who not only made a vicious, nonsensical attack on purported flag desecration but, shown it was false, acknowledged his mistake without retracting his accusation.
Free Speech is not free. Sometimes, it can cost you an entire country.
The viciousness is not just in this country, and Ben Jennings is one of the few British cartoonists to call out the haters of Harry and Meghan, who, driven not just from the Palace but the country, accepted a deal to produce a documentary that has been met with as much bile as their marriage and her mixed-race identity were in the first place.
Is the documentary good filmmaking? I’m not on Netflix, so I don’t know, but I wouldn’t expect much. It sounds like maudlin gossip, but, then, so does the whole concept of a Royal Family.
As noted the other day, if her background were in something other than acting, they might be running a restaurant or making scented candles, while, beyond his military service, Harry hasn’t had any serious job training beyond waving and posing. So filmmaking it is.
Though, speaking of officers serving in the trenches, this report on Harry’s two tours in Afghanistan includes a video in which he says
He’s not there yet, but he seems to be on the right road with a good helpmeet, despite what you read in the tabloids.
This Christmas gag by Maggie Larson, is, appropriately, from the New Yorker, since the idea of trees ripped from the Forest Primeval is a city concept.
Nearly all Christmas trees are farmed, and there’s a substantial argument that natural trees are better for the environment than artificial ones.
As for the other trees being angry, my decades of living in the Northern Forest suggest that they’d see the cutting of a wild tree as a chance for more sunshine and water. Trees are notoriously self-interested.
They’re also notorious for never listening to young men who talk to them.