One of the recurring gags in Candorville (KFS) is Clyde’s continuing, deliberate ignorance. When the news comes on, he switches to reruns of Gilligan’s Island, and, as seen in this morning’s strip, he doesn’t notice monstrous storms and flooding outside his window.
In moral theology, “invincible ignorance” is an excuse for sin, the theory being that a bushman in the Kalahari can’t be blamed for not worshipping a deity he’s never heard of. “Vincible ignorance,” by sharp contrast, is the refusal to learn what is in front of your nose.
Clyde is an example of vincible ignorance because he not only chooses to remain uninformed but takes pride in living in a shell. Darrin Bell makes it funny in Candorville because it’s not at all funny in real life.
This Theresa Burns Parkhurst cartoon appeared in the New Yorker in 2021, but someone posted it on social media last night and it fits in well with people talking about “sports ball” and, in a few cases, honestly wondering why everyone was suddenly talking about Taylor Swift.
It’s of a piece with Clyde, except that Clyde’s deliberate avoidance of knowledge is satirical and funny, while encountering it real life is appalling and, given the state of the nation, frightening.
It is, of course, not mandatory to enjoy sports, just as it is not mandatory to enjoy ballet, opera or modern art. But ignorance is nothing to take pride in, and not recognizing names like Mikhail Baryshnikov or Maria Callas or Pablo Picasso is shameful.
Similarly, you should know that they made a movie about Barbie, that the Super Bowl was played last night, and that there have been major storms in Southern California.
Note that nobody is forcing you to see the movie, watch the game or stand out in the downpour.
But if you haven’t noticed that, as John Cole puts it, Taylor Swift has been living rent-free in the heads of rightwingers, you’re not just ignoring “sports ball.” You’ve been ignoring current events and politics and the upcoming election and the future of our country.
… with Gilligan, the Skipper, too, the millionaire and his wife …
Steve Kelley (Creators) shouldn’t bet the farm.
The level of deliberate ignorance on display on social media is stunning, and the pride people take in being “too smart” to know what’s going on around them is hardly confined to trivia like Taylor Swift. Or Elvis Presley. Or the Beatles.
Or that Los Angeles got more than half its average yearly rain over three days last week.
Or that an investigation of classified documents in Joe Biden’s possession included off-hand, off-topic, subjective remarks about his alleged mental acuity.
… the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann …
Yeah, yeah, I know. You weren’t watching Gilligan. You were reading a best seller or making exotic desserts from scratch.
Or possibly playing a violin concerto while Rome burned around you.
Ah, well that’s a different question. You ought to know about the world, about sports and arts and politics and health and so forth, but you’re not obligated to care about all those things. You’re simply obligated to know enough about what’s going on that you won’t pose a danger in November.
Which brings us from Taylor Swift to the Swift Boats.
John Darkow portrays the leadership of our nation’s gerontocracy, for which he borrows a movie title, sarcastically, because this obviously is a country for old men after all, not because it was designed that way but because that’s who’s running it.
As Darkow says, “and yet here we are.”
Perhaps, fellow citizens, you remember Al Gore, who lied about inventing the Internet (though he didn’t) and who lied about being an inspiration for the main character in Love Story (which was partially true, though Segal was misquoted) and who lied about discovering the pollution of Love Canal (which he never claimed.)
Calling Al Gore a liar worked so well in that election that it was tried again in 2004, when John Kerry, decorated for his combat service in Vietnam, was set upon by the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, whose sliming of Kerry’s service record received widespread publicity before their honesty, intent and even presence at the scene were called into question.
In other words, the blueprints for media coverage of John Hur’s report on Biden’s possession of classified documents were drawn up nearly a quarter century ago.
Just as cartoonists and columnist leapt at the chance to climb aboard the “Al Gore lies” bandwagon and to report the Swift Boat accusations, and just as they leapt to comment about Taylor Swift this past month, they’re now eager to collect eyeballs over Biden’s alleged mental deficiencies.
Morten Morland concedes Trump’s long-reported, multiply-sourced temper, but assumes that Biden’s incapacity is equally verified.
Bob Gorrell (Creators) expands Hur’s accusation, promoting it from uncertain memory to outright insanity.
Mike Lester (AMS) similarly assumes that an accusation of fading memory is also a diagnosis of mental illness.
While Steve Breen (Creators) takes a humorous anti-Biden approach, mocking his occasional misstatements.
He’s at least fair in the imagined mix-up, since people with speech impediments often grab at a comfortable initial sound without immediately realizing it’s slightly off. (Mitterand/Macron, for instance.)
It was kind of him not to have Biden say “Nelia.”
Jeff Stahler (AMS) pushes back slightly, contrasting the candidates in a way that is unclear: Is he accepting the amateur diagnosis but weighing the alternatives, or mocking voters who might do so?
Adam Zyglis also pushes back, contrasting Biden’s pattern of mixing up names with the MAGAts pattern of dismissing the seriousness of an attempted coup.
While Pat Byrnes offers cold comfort, indeed, pointing out that MAGAts are well aware of Trump’s combination of fumblemouth and of lies, but don’t care.
Trump’s popularity may be secondary to his legal problems, but, as Martyn Turner points out, he can now shift his claim of immunity-through-presidency to a claim of immunity due to poor memory.
This contest of fading memories is less important than whether editors, columnists and cartoonists remember the Swift Boats.
Because they’re back, and the whole world is watching to see how it goes this time.