Cartoon: Centrists and Civility


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The challenge in a cartoon like this – which really has to be ultra-simple to be effective – is to find ways to make the art worth looking at despite being so simple. So I worked on trying to make the figures seem active and alive, and to really vary their poses and costumes. Hopefully it worked!


Transcript of cartoon

This cartoon has three panels, plus a small additional “kicker” panel underneath the bottom of the cartoon.

PANEL 1
This panel shows three well-coiffed white people – they could be politicians, or pundits on TV – on the right side of the panel, facing towards the left side of the panel. They look angry and are speaking with hostile expressions. There is a large caption superimposed over the image.
CAPTION: RIGHT
WHITE GUY: Cattle don’t get to keep their kids. Why should immigrants?
WHITE GAL: Teh law should protect elections from Black vot- I mean, from illegal voters!
OTHER WHITE GUY: George Soros paid scientists to make up global warming!

PANEL 2
This panel shows two lefties, dressed like college students or protesters, on the left side of the panel, facing towards the right side of the panel. They look angry and are speaking with hostile expressions. The woman’s race and ethnicity is ambiguous, the man is Black. There is a large caption superimposed over the image.
CAPTION: LEFT
WOMAN: $#%*! those people!
MAN: They’re terrible hateful bigots!

PANEL 3
This panel shows a white man and an ethnically ambiguous woman, both facing towards the left with scornful expressions. The man is making a “stop that, get away” hand gesture towards the left; the woman has her arms on her hips. There is a large caption superimposed over the image.
CAPTION: CENTRISTS
MAN: Tsk! Why must the left be so uncivil?
WOMAN: Do they want Trump re-elected?

SMALL KICKER PANEL BELOW THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP
This panel shows the leftists glaring at the centrists, while the centrists smile back.
CENTRIST WOMAN: We’re only saying, both sides are equally bad!

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122 Responses to Cartoon: Centrists and Civility

  1. 101
    Charles S says:

    Zunf2,

    Well, the Republicans I know are not as hysterical about it, they question (not deny, question) the extent to which it is caused by people (instead of a natural long-term cycle, for instance), and they note that some of the previous dire preductions have not come true. They note that there have been instances of “climate scientists” falsifying studies (Google it if you are not aware of it). Sometimes massively. They note that despite the claim of the left that 97% of climate scientists are completely on-board with the man-made theory and the dire predictions, that may not be completely true (neither the percentage nor the dire claims).

    There is zero evidence for the current sudden massive increase in temperature being a result of long term cycles. It doesn’t make sense as being the result of long term cycles, there is no recorded equivalent events in the recent climate record, no attempt to align long term cycles with the sudden massive increase in temperature has ever produced valid support for the claim. Meanwhile, there is ancient climate record of relatively similar events, driven by sudden releases of CO2 (or methane) (two of which resulted in two of the worst global extinction events). We know that we are releasing massive amounts of CO2, we know the mechanism by which CO2 produces an increase in temperature (and, indeed, knew this mechanism nearly a hundred years before the effects were obvious in the observation record), and we have observed the predicted change in global temperature (and the predicted specific patterns of where and when on the globe, in the atmosphere, seasonally, and in the daily cycle) for more than 30 years. Extremely crude (by modern standards) global climate models predicted global warming, plenty of them run by Exxon and Mobil, when extremely crude models were all we had. As we’ve improved our climate models and parsed out more of the details of how the climate works, we’ve become better and better at predicting the details of what will happen, but the basic prediction of a massive increase in CO2 causing a massive increase in global temperature is settled science. Asking questions about it is a reasonable thing to do. Refusing to listen to the answers to those questions is not a reasonable thing to do.

    For anyone who is interested in asking the questions and getting clear answers, I think Skeptical Science is a good place to start.

    For instance:
    1) No, the current sudden warming is not part of somelonger natural cycle.
    2) Yes, there is an overwhelming consensus among scientists.
    3) Yes, it really is that bad (that last one is actually noted left-wingers, the World Bank, rather than Skeptical Science).
    4) And, finally, no, the CRU email hacking incident didn’t reveal any wrong-doing.

  2. 102
    Charles S says:

    I think it is important to recognize that the US global warming denialist movement is a completely different sort of beast than the anti-vax movement or the anti-genetic engineering movement. Denialism (and its cousins luke-warmism and delayism) are basically entirely the products of propaganda efforts developed and funded by the fossil fuel industry, much like the now mostly forgotten efforts of the tobacco industry to deny that smoking causes cancer (and emphysema and heart disease). Anti-vax and anti-GMO movements are fringe movements that are profited off of and promoted by mostly independent charlatans.

    The problem with the US conservative movement and the Republican party is not that it is influenced by an anti-science fringe movement, the problem is that it is a committed lacky of the fossil fuel industry and promotes the lies of the fossil fuel industry in opposition to actual scientific research.

  3. 103
    Sai Nushi says:

    In response to the point about the authority wielded by the people saying the things, that wasn’t even hinted at in the cartoon. I responded to the cartoon as it was, not the invisible subtext that I am incapable of divining. As it is, the cartoon says that Centrists equate less-bad statements on the left with absolutely horrible statements on the right. Not that the Centrists are comparing terrible things said by college students and early 20-somethings on the left to terrible things said by Congressmen, Governors, and Presidents on the right.

    For the record, “kill all men”, “police are pigs”, and “every white person is racist” are the things that pushed me away from the left. Just like “Mexicans are dirty” and “Poor people should just pick themselves up” kept me away from the right even before it went Full Metal Jacket on the country. I didn’t vote 2016. Partly because it became apparent to me that my vote doesn’t actually do anything. Both sides are run by corporations. Both sides have very loud bigots coloring the national view of the party. And congress has ground itself to a place where the entire point of each party is to make sure the other party can’t do anything.

    But also partly because identity politics has taken over the country. And I refuse to play that game. I am an individual. I don’t have a group identity. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is something that I internalized at a very young age. I am very grateful for that, and quite saddened by the inability for most people to follow that banner. Maybe its easier for me, having never really fit into any groups in school, I don’t know. I just know that the idea that someone should get an advantage because of their skin color or gender, whichever way it goes, seems ridiculous. And the whole “who you know is more important than what you can do” standard of hiring is leading to very poor quality. Poor quality service, poor quality products, poor quality life.

  4. 104
    Ampersand says:

    First of all, there are hints in the cartoon – the people on the right are dressed like politicians or TV newspeople, the people on the left are clearly neither. Plus, the people on the right are all talking about policy, in one way or another.

    So it’s not true there’s no hint. That it’s too subtle and easy to miss, however, is a fair critique.

    I’ve never seen the point in voting based on who says mean things, as opposed to voting based on policy issues. People don’t live or die (by and large) based on people saying mean things (except in very particular circumstances). But they do live or die based on policy. To me, your position seems like an extremely misplaced priority. It’s as if you think your own personal purity – “I’m not going to vote for a party associated in some way with college protesters who say mean things on Tumblr!” – is actually more important than policy.

    And congress has ground itself to a place where the entire point of each party is to make sure the other party can’t do anything.

    Literally the last time the Democrats were in charge, the ACA happened. Millions of people got medical coverage who didn’t have it before. Do you really think that’s worth nothing?

  5. 105
    Sai Nushi says:

    “the people on the right are dressed like politicians or TV newspeople, the people on the left are clearly neither”

    I completely missed the clothing cues as having any bearing on that. So fair point. Also, I think I forgot to say it earlier, so thank you for the welcome.

    “Literally the last time the Democrats were in charge, the ACA happened. Millions of people got medical coverage who didn’t have it before. Do you really think that’s worth nothing?”

    That’s not worth nothing. But I didn’t even know the policies that either side was likely to implement in the 2016 election. All I knew about Hillary was that she was female, and a democrat. That doesn’t tell me which democrat policies she agrees with or disagrees with, or where her priorities were. All I knew about Trump was that he was a piss-poor businessman who somehow made a lot of people believe he wasn’t.

    As to the insults that each side throws at the other, I ignore them. The people doing the insulting are the last people to consult on what the person being insulted actually stands for. I don’t want messages telling me what Democrats think the Republicans stand for. I don’t want messages telling me what Republicans think Democrats stand for. Those were the only messages I heard two years ago. Not helpful.

    “I’ve never seen the point in voting based on who says mean things, as opposed to voting based on policy issues. People don’t live or die (by and large) based on people saying mean things (except in very particular circumstances). But they do live or die based on policy.”

    The mean things a person says points to what they actually believe about how the world works. The democrat party believes that my gender is a disadvantage and my race an advantage, and they don’t care about my family situation even though overcoming foster care was the thing that defined my childhood and got me accepted into college, so was that an advantage or a disadvantage? The word privilege used to mean “something that you earn”, as opposed to a right, which was “something that you are guaranteed”. Privilege has become synonymous with “unearned privilege”.

    I was a democrat because I believe that skin color doesn’t matter. I was a democrat because I believe that it should be my choice what substances I do and don’t use. I was a democrat because I believe that bad luck happens, and we should help people with bad luck until their luck turns. I was a democrat because I believe that government shouldn’t legislate morality, but only interfere when it’s something hurting other people. I was a democrat because I believe that every human has equal worth.

    So when democrats are saying that we need to take skin color into account, and government should ban certain words, or force people to say certain things, when democrats are fighting for the right to not be offended, when democrats are telling me that my reactions to my circumstances don’t matter as much as my race and gender, yes, I’m going to leave them. Democrats tell me that men are evil, despite men being the ones to protect me. Democrats tell me that women are good, despite the worst people in my life being female. Democrats tell me that there are things worse than death, and it’s oh so hard to rise above your circumstances that it’s nearly impossible. If you’ve already experienced something worse than death, then what’s the use in trying? If it’s almost impossible to rise above circumstance, why bother?

    It’s not about “saying mean things”. It’s about the mindset that causes those things to be said. And the mindset will be reflected in public policy, which is something that people have to live and die from.

    The messages I hear from the right, by the way, are definitely not any better. “Pull yourself by your bootstraps” only works if there’s economic mobility from the lower class to the middle class. “Companies should have free reign” doesn’t work out to better conditions, or better products. “No political difference between a corporation and an interest group” is so very wrong, I have a hard time believing the people who came up with that weren’t being evil (evil here defined as “deliberately trying to hurt people”).

    Caveat- both men and women are capable of doing bad things, and both men and women are capable of doing heroic things. I recognize this. I was just trying to point out how my “lived experience” doesn’t match with the narrative I keep hearing from the left.

  6. 106
    Sebastian H says:

    “I’ve never seen the point in voting based on who says mean things, as opposed to voting based on policy issues”.

    I wish more people voted on policy, but they don’t. People vote tribally. That’s why demonizing the other is such a powerful tool. People very often don’t vote for someone who is perceived to be mean to them, even if other policy preferences are in line. I’m not even sure that’s a bad idea. Ostracism is a dangerous thing for the person cast out. Even in today’s relatively comfortable world.

  7. 107
    lurker23 says:

    Ampersand says:
    November 12, 2018 at 6:18 am
    First of all, there are hints in the cartoon – the people on the right are dressed like politicians or TV newspeople, the people on the left are clearly neither. Plus, the people on the right are all talking about policy, in one way or another.

    i did not get that at all, i think it is an “advanced level” hint, but i see it now that you are saying i should look for it.

  8. 108
    Polaris says:

    Though “Do they want Trump re-elected?” is a valid question.
    Or a how important objective people on the left consider it?
    Because the reasonable thing would be to re-evaluate one’s strategy after a defeat and think about what went wrong.

  9. 109
    Ampersand says:

    The question “Do they want Trump re-elected” isn’t the same as asking “why did we lose this election”?

    Obviously they DON’T want Trump re-elected. Anyone would know this by just listening to them for five seconds. It’s not a deep, dark mystery.

    Basically, saying “Do they want Trump re-elected?” is a way of trying to foreclose debate and discussion. Rather than investigating why Trump won, it:

    1) Assumes that it was the rhetoric of the “woke left” that caused Trump to win.
    2) Assumes that #1 is a universally acknowledged fact, rather than an opinion many people disagree with.
    3) And therefore concludes that any continuation of “woke left” rhetoric must logically be aimed at helping Trump to win re-election.

    It’s ludicrous. It’s the exact opposite of a real discussion – it’s a sneering, nasty insult disguised as conversation. It’s the political equivalent of “have you stopped beating your wife?”

  10. 110
    Mandolin says:

    Sure! What went wrong? Massive propaganda efforts, internally and internationally, mixed with voter suppression and apathy bred of things being relatively good! Got it! Do I want Trump re-elected? Nope! So let’s try to counter propaganda, get people their fucking rights that they fucking deserve for being fucking humans you fuckers, and make sure to get the word out to people that their votes matter!

    I mean, it’s that or give up and become fascists ourselves.

    “How do you fight fire again? Is it with fire? Water? Nah, just burning to death.”

  11. 111
    Polaris says:

    The question “Do they want Trump re-elected” isn’t the same as asking “why did we lose this election”?

    Obviously they DON’T want Trump re-elected. Anyone would know this by just listening to them for five seconds. It’s not a deep, dark mystery.

    Basically, saying “Do they want Trump re-elected?” is a way of trying to foreclose debate and discussion. Rather than investigating why Trump won, it:

    1) Assumes that it was the rhetoric of the “woke left” that caused Trump to win.
    2) Assumes that #1 is a universally acknowledged fact, rather than an opinion many people disagree with.
    3) And therefore concludes that any continuation of “woke left” rhetoric must logically be aimed at helping Trump to win re-election.

    It’s ludicrous. It’s the exact opposite of a real discussion – it’s a sneering, nasty insult disguised as conversation. It’s the political equivalent of “have you stopped beating your wife?”

    We don’t know for sure if it was the straw that broke the camels back but it was a tight race. Removing one or two factors contributing to Trumps popularity might have tipped the balance.
    And if you don’t think its contributing to his popularity then you should leave your echo chamber now and then even if its cringy.
    Whether it should contribute to his popularity or not is not relevant, what matters is that it DOES.
    Also its a rhetorical question. Of course they don’t want him to be re-elected but the question is how much they don’t want him to be re-elected?

    Of course if you are sure that Trump is bound to lose then its not a concern of yours.
    Personally as a outsider I’m so far fine with Trump considering that he has not yet invaded a country at will.

  12. 112
    Celeste says:

    Whether it should contribute to his popularity or not is not relevant, what matters is that it DOES.

    From where I’m sitting, after the 2016 election, the ‘woke’ rhetoric and vehement opposition to Trump increased if anything … and in 2018 we won big.

    Does that mean that one lead to the other? Not necessarily, but if you’re going to blame it for the 2016 loss, not considering it as part of the 2018 win seems intellectually dishonest.

    Re-evaluating the strategy from the previous election isn’t something for parties to just do when they lose, and definitely isn’t something that only the Democratic party should be doing.

  13. 113
    Mandolin says:

    I mean, I guess it’s a valid question to ask, “Why bother trying to win votes when the Republicans have demonstrated that the winning response to electoral loss is to CHEAT FLAGRANTLY?”

    The answer is “the possession of some shred of moral fiber,” but easy answers don’t necessarily make questions invalid.

  14. 114
    Ampersand says:

    And if you don’t think its contributing to his popularity then you should leave your echo chamber now and then even if its cringy.

    This is needlessly insulting. Please try to have a more civil engagement, or if you’d rather not, go find a different blog to comment on. Thanks!

  15. 115
    Polaris says:

    This is needlessly insulting. Please try to have a more civil engagement, or if you’d rather not, go find a different blog to comment on. Thanks!

    Fine.
    Not that I was trying to insult you nor am I sure of how one could say the same thing in a more civil manner without changing the meaning of the sentence.
    Or how does one ask. Have you stopped beating your wife? in a more civil manner?

  16. 116
    Ampersand says:

    “I don’t know you, so I can’t really say if you’re in an echo chamber. But do you think it’s possible that you’re in an echo chamber, and that’s affecting your views here?” would have been more civil.

    Of course, that does change the meaning of what you said – from an unkind insinuation about me, to something that gives me the benefit of the doubt. Which is, of course, the entire idea of civility. I hope you don’t object to that sort of change, however.

    There is no civil way to ask “have you stopped beating your wife?” Better not to ask it. (If you think I’ve asked that of you, then you’ve misread me badly.)

  17. 117
    Polaris says:

    “I don’t know you, so I can’t really say if you’re in an echo chamber. But do you think it’s possible that you’re in an echo chamber, and that’s affecting your views here?” would have been more civil.

    Of course, that does change the meaning of what you said – from an unkind insinuation about me, to something that gives me the benefit of the doubt. Which is, of course, the entire idea of civility. I hope you don’t object to that sort of change, however.

    Before I leave I’m just going to leave exhibit A here:
    http://amptoons.com/blog/?p=22453

    There is no civil way to ask “have you stopped beating your wife?” Better not to ask it. (If you think I’ve asked that of you, then you’ve misread me badly.)

    But there are people whom are really beating their wives and this won’t go unnoticed by everyone.

  18. 118
    Kate says:

    How can anyone read this thread and suggest that Alas is an “echo chamber”? There seem to be plenty of centrist and conservative voices here.
    The left also does not have an echo chamber which parallels the Fox News/small rural town echo chamber. Liberals tend to live in big cities, and college towns where a lot of people (including many of the liberals) are originally from Fox News/small town rural America and still in contact with their conservative family members. I don’t think I know any white liberals who don’t have at least one Trump loving relative.

  19. 119
    Gracchus says:

    @Kate: I think they consider it an “echo chamber” because centrists/conservatives’ ideas, while listened to and engaged with, aren’t treated with the sort of respect they feel these ideas merit.

    Like, if your ideas is so self-evidently correct, and yet people don’t agree with it on hearing it, they can’t possible be giving it a fair hearing, which makes for an echo chamber.

  20. 120
    Kate says:

    Actually, I’m largely against the echo chamber theory more broadly. I don’t think the divide between left and right in the U.S. (and probably globally) can be attributed to lack of communication, or understanding. Left and right have fundamentally different values.

  21. 121
    Zunf2 says:

    Kate,

    In the “just sayin’ ” department, you don’t see the number of people who are banned or who are now allowed to even post one comment. The OK conservative arguments are let through, but really good people (in my opinion) are eventually banned under a pretext, and many topics and angles cannot even be addressed with a single post.

    As a second topic, posters like you can tell another poster “Seriously, fuck off” (as you did a few weeks ago), without the bat of an eyelash, but Ampersand will strictly monitor the politeness of posters “on the other side”. All a pretext anyway to tightly control the flow of conversation on the board.

    I’m sure this post itself puts me in the crosshairs. It will be denied with wide eyes, and then for some strange reason no response will be forthcoming from me. Must be that damned spam trap again. Whatever, dude.

  22. 122
    J. Squid says:

    Yay! A comment complaining about moderation. We haven’t heard that for a while.

    You can search the blog for the many, many, many times Amp has told me to back it down. But, to be fair, I am an awfully conservative commenter.

    Anyway, please continue, I’m sure we’d all like to hear more about how a clearly stated and implemented moderation policy is vague and unfairly applied. I know I can’t wait.

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