Jen Sorensen on a phenomenon I find very hopeful: The emergence of common sense and decency for the first time I can remember since the dawn of the Carter administration (or the end of Nixon, whichever).
I don't think people have changed. I think what has changed is that the loudest shouters are no longer being permitted to dominate the conversation.
And she's right: The Confederate flag and same-sex marriage have been the catalysts for this shift, because most people already knew that the Stars and Bars were, at best, favored by sulky, immature losers, and also that what two people do in their private lives is inconsequential to anyone else.
I share her hope that this sudden attack of thoughtfulness will spread to other issues.
It reminds me of being at a hockey game at the old Broadmoor arena in Colorado Springs years ago, "old arena" being relevant because the wooden seats behind goal were very steep, such that your feet were aligned with the top of the seatback ahead of you.
All sports attract screamers, but hockey seems to get more than its share, and one fellow sitting about two-thirds of the way up was screaming continual insults at the refs and the opposing players that had nothing to do with the action on the ice, and finally an older fellow several rows below him turned and asked him to keep it down.
So then he began screaming insults at the guy who had made the request, going on and on, and everyone would turn to look up at him and then see that he was kind of a big guy and looked mean and maybe a little crazy, so they'd turn back around and try to watch the game.
Suddenly, an even bigger voice said, "You can yell at the players but you don't yell at the fans," and we all turned around and saw this huge bearded Mongo of a guy, standing in the row behind the screamer, dangling him in the air and then slamming him back down in his seat.
And the whole section burst into applause, and the rest of the game was rather pleasant.
I've noticed now that, when some blowhard jackass tries to defend the Confederate flag, or makes some asinine, intolerant claim about same-sex marriage, there is a great deal less willingness of everybody to face forward and try to ignore it while they wait for Mongo to intervene.
That's a good thing.
Of course, Carter only served one term, because he asked people to do terrible things like put on a sweater instead of cranking up their thermostats, so we pronounced him a wimp and a failure and scuttled back to divisive, dishonest pandering to the loudest and most demanding rather than serving the average and reasonable.
But while it was the Mongos of the Supreme Court who shook up the homophobes and Christian Taliban over the marriage issue, the backlash over the Confederate Flag has been less hero-dependent and more a case of people awakening to the idea that not only do we not have to sit there pretending not to hear or see, but that we really ought not to.
It's also encouraging to see some voices of thoughtful sanity emerge in the wake of the Greek vote, including Rico Schacherl, who celebrates the impertinence of the rejection ...
... and Matteo Bertelli, who brings a little rational economic theory into the post-referendum analysis.
Meanwhile, this quick explanation by Ezra Klein has been making the rounds.
Which doesn't mean any of them are correct, but it certainly puts to rest the "everybody knows" approach that has had so many cartoonists facing front, drawing Greek ruins and hoping someone who actually knows what it all means will step up.
In other news:
I was going to plug Dan Perkin's Tom Tomorrow Kickstarter, with which he plans to publish the full 25 years of the strip, but it rocketed past goal so fast that it seems pointless, unless you want to pledge so you can get a copy of the book.
Or a signed copy of the book and a Pearl Jam album cover signed by the band.
Anyway, Michael Cavna's got an interview with Perkins/Tomorrow about the whole thing.
I'll share this Harry Bliss laff, which is particularly apt for a couple of reasons.
One is that it brings to mind one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips, because there is some really, really awful crap out there, and it just keeps coming.
The worst part is that there are plenty of people who believe that the way you write for childen is to string together a bunch of silly names and set them to mindless, sing-songy rhymes that would make a Hallmark card writer gag.
Some of these people write this cloying drivel, and some of them buy it for their children and some of them, god help us, are children who therefore grow up thinking books are supposed to be filled with cloying drivel.
Until they outgrow it, at which point, since they think of books as cloying drivel, they stop reading.
The other factor is that Bliss has more than sufficient standing to make this statement. No gooey kablooeys on that list.
I should do a wrap up of them all sometime, but they know how to draw and they know how to tell stories and it's a good thing both for them (since syndication isn't as lucrative as it once was), and for kids and parents (since books that don't suck are actually kind of fun!).
Think of them as literary Mongos.
And just in the nick of time, comme il faut ...