CSotD: Civilization and its Discontents

We’ll start off today with Jimmy Margulies (KFS)‘s cartoon, in which he mashes up the Roald Dahl re-write kerfuffle with the scandal over Fox News’ well-documented decision to promote lies in order to hold audience. He’s got it right: Fox produces fairy tales for its viewers.

The woman’s trust has been broken and she’s looking for something to believe in.

But, while some “fairy tales” were charming stories meant to comfort, or folkloric stories like the Magpie Bridge featured here the other day, telling of interactions between humans and immortals, a substantial portion were not.

Most, it seems, of the stories told around the fire at night were parables and fables, not intended to be accepted as fact but, rather, intended to pass along cultural values and warnings. Often, they were far from comforting, and reading, for instance, the original stories that the Grimm Brothers collected, reveal a lot of, indeed, grim stories full of blood and unpleasant outcomes for those who went against accepted behaviors.

Which doesn’t take us far from political lies with roughly the same goal.

But in modern retellings, we’ve removed a lot of those frightening, upsetting warnings in order to make the story more comforting. I remember being furious when I read one of my boys’ school readers that included the story of the fox, the goat and the well.

In Aesop’s original, the fox, having fallen into the well, tricks the goat into joining him, then jumps on the goat’s back and is able to escape. But, in my son’s school book, the now freed fox says, “I’ll help you out this time, but, next time, look before you leap.”

Which softens the dire warning into a suggestion that, even if you screw up, someone will help you out. Not what Aesop intended and not a very realistic message.

But here we are.

Lee Judge (KFS) accurately depicts the plight of those who have climbed into the deep well of student debt, and find themselves in the hapless position of the old saying, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

At the moment, the Supreme Court is deciding whether President Biden can say, “I’ll help you out this time, but, next time, look before you leap.” But even if the loan forgiveness goes through, it’s not a complete wiping out of debt, and those who leapt the farthest will still find themselves pushing that rock.

If the program is approved, it will create some gratitude for the administration, but the real goal is to put covers over those wells so more foxes and goats don’t end up in them.

In the case of college costs, the administration that can solve that problem deserves a great deal of gratitude in the long run.

A large part of the solution is to decide if we really need a K-16 education system, and, if so, why we don’t simply fund the whole shebang in the interest of preparing our workforce.

And, if not, to stop holding out that golden sheepskin as the fairy tale key to success.

And speaking of covering wells, we need to speak of putting steel, rather than aluminum, caps over the valves of railroad cars carrying toxic gases and liquids. As noted in this article, the major reason for the massive burn-off in East Palestine was that aluminum covers melted in the initial fire, making it impossible to vent the expanding gases without having to burn them all off.

As also noted in that article, residents of the area are frightened and furious, and, like the people in the storybook in Jeff Stahler (AMS)‘s cartoon, they want a solution, and they are understandably angry that some magic cure-all wasn’t applied in time to spare their town.

Their fury is reasonable, but, the harm having been done, the conversation is skewed with distrust of both Norfolk Southern and the EPA, as well as political accusations of which administration’s policies led to the derailment.

Neither the clean-up nor assessing the blame are easy projects, and neither are likely to be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Perhaps not to anyone’s.

Juxtaposition of the Day

John Deering

Deering plays a bit with slogans to make his word swap work, the Enchanted Kingdom being in the Philippines and Disney’s Florida theme park being, rather, the Magic Kingdom, but he and de Adder share the idea that Florida Governor Ron De Santis is putting the Mouse in chains.

There has been much chatter over De Santis’s use of the power of his government to punish Disney for having spoken up against his homophobic/transphobic crusade, but, now that the legislature has altered the special tax structure that had first brought the park to Florida, the Intelligencer reports that De Santis is planning to dictate creative limits, too.

Perhaps he wishes it really were the Enchanted Kingdom, and hopes to win the US presidency and make things here more like they are in the Philippines.

If De Santis does finally announce his candidacy for the presidency, he may find himself embroiled in a bit of a love triangle, since Donald Trump has already declared his admiration of Duterte.

De Santis hasn’t openly embraced Duterte, but is being seen, at least by his critics, as Trump Lite, and seems to be avoiding those critics by appearing only in friendly venues, mostly those owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Several political cartoonists have drawn satiric visions of a De Santisized Disney World; we’ll defer to Ann Telnaes’ version, since she has worked for the Mouse.

But the point is that they all drew these cartoons in jest, while De Santis apparently plans to make them real.

And, though he hasn’t formally said so yet, his plans are not just for Orlando, and not just for Florida, but for the entire country.

That’s not Fantasyland. It’s Tomorrowland.

The worst part is, it will be wrapped, not in barbed wire, but in the cotton candy of cheerfully cast fairy tales.

And we’ll never hear the original, grim stories behind the pleasant re-telling.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Civilization and its Discontents

  1. Re: addressing issues and receiving “gratitude in the long run.” That’s a, perhaps the, major problem. No one in politics has an incentive to secure long term solutions, or so it seems to me.

    Not sure how a cartoonist can address this, however. That world also has a short term horizon.

  2. If Disney weren’t so greedy, I would love to see them shut down Disney World for a month or two in protest to what De Santis has done. No tax revenue to pay Florida, protests by families and organizations pulling out of scheduling conventions in the state may put some pressure for De Santis to back down.

    If not, there’s always creating the 21st century equivalent of the Panama Canal between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico (or just shunt Donald Trump’s “wall” eastward…

  3. So DeSantis and his Brethren will finally make Donald Duck put on some pants ?

  4. Most news coverage of the DeSantis “punishment” of Disney focuses on their opposition to his “Stop Woke” program. If you go back to the original Disney statement on the matter, you will find that they also announced that they would no longer be contributing to political campaigns. Can’t help thinking that this whole thing would have blown over fairly quickly if the big money had continued to flow.

  5. Yes yes DeSantis the homophobe that thinks 4 year olds don’t need to hear about sex. And the transphobe whom did nothing to trans people near as I can tell. How dare he make Disney adhere to the same regulations as any other business in the state.

    1. There’s a substantial difference between saying “You may not sell food that will poison people” and saying “You may not differ from the Central Government’s stated opinions.” In this country, that is. Not in Russia, Iran, Afghanistan or China.

    2. I totally agree with you. Much of this article seems like people are saying things like every thing is ok as long as it’s not in my back yard. Now that someone is making it to be “not in every one’s backyard” there’s a problem with that. This Disney problem should not even what it is. The place is not for children anymore. It is for alternative lifestyles or social misfits.

    3. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan so succinctly put it, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts”.

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