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What Is Wrong With People, Dilbert Edition


I was a big comic-strip fan as a kid. When I was in grade school, I wanted to be a comic artist when I grew up. The first strip I was into was Garfield, when I was too young to notice it was, uh, not very good.


Then I discovered Peanuts, Bloom County and, especially, Calvin and Hobbeswhose artist, Bill Watterson, is coming back with a new book. Calvin and Hobbes took me a while to get into (I was 12 when it debuted)—it didn’t really do “jokes”—but it has to be the all-time classic.


The Boston Globe had a great two-page spread of comic strips which I read every chance I could—not easy, because in our household, we only got The New York Times (my dad’s favorite). And they had no comics.


But if the Red Sox were going well (true in 1986 and 1988), we’d also get the Globe, and I’d devour the sports and the funnies.


Dilbert premiered in 1989, after I had moved on to other interests (like film music), but when I occasionally saw it, I was impressed by Scott Adams’ insightful, albeit deeply, darkly cynical take on the business world.


I later read a couple of his prose books, like The Dilbert Principle, and thought hey, this was someone with a real voice.


To this day, I remember some of his lines, like one about how corporations say they value people as their most important asset—well, not true, their number one asset is their money. (I’m mangling this.)


There was another funny passage predicting that the cable companies would never be able to compete with the phone companies in the coming war of “information technology,” because cable delivers one-way information and telephones require two-way (harder to pull off). His reasoning: the cable companies were full of people too stupid to work at the phone companies.


But even back then, he had some strange digressions that I just didn’t buy. There was one about “affirmations”: writing down some aspiration to make it true (“I will become rich”)—which seemed fine enough for motivation, but he insisted it actually changed reality. I was like, uh, okay, that’s crazy—but he’s funny, so whatever.


I guess I am burying the lede: in recent years, Adams has become an iconoclastic but nonetheless right-wing blogger.


And this past week, he just said some cartoonishly (forgive the word) racist things, and now he’s being canceled.


Well...it’s sad. He’s a talented guy. But yeah, he’s crazy.


I discovered a blog he had around the time Trump got elected, and for a little while I read it because he had some interesting takes on things. But in time it became clear he was just a crank, with increasingly unhinged opinions, and I was embarrassed that I had even suggested to a couple of friends to check out his blog.


If you’re wondering what he said that was so offensive, just Google it. Here’s a Washington Post piece (subscription required).


I know I have a bunch of friends with conservative political opinions, and some of them read this blog and may even feel the urge to post—that’s fine!


While I’m generally a liberal Democrat, of course no party or group has a monopoly on truth—and in order for our society to function, we all have to compromise and get along with each other. DUH.


And if you’re making blanket, derogatory statements about a group or race of people—that’s racism, and you have a problem.


If you’re doing it as a public figure, in public—you’re an idiot! (And a racist.)


Oh, I remember now one of the things that I found weird about Adams’ blog: he was so self-assured as a (self-acclaimed) master of the art of persuasion.


I guess, not so much!

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Justin Braun
Justin Braun
05. März 2023

There's something about the right-wing ecosystem that can suck people in like a black hole and leave them detached from reality. It's disappointing to see it happen time and time again.

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