I Learned it from Reading Slate, Rupert!

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Slate's Christopher Beam has a horrible secret. It was he who started this "terrorist fist jab" nonsense, when he quoted a commenter at the right-wing website Human Events accusing Michelle Obama of being a Hezbollah sleeper agent. Or something. This led to the now-infamous Fox News fembot comment that "everyone seems to interpret [the gesture] differently," but some have suggested that it is a secret terrorist greeting. Beam's apologia for introducing the "fist jab" meme makes for interesting reading:

The morning after Obama locked up the nomination, I was writing a "Trailhead" item that mocked the media's difficulty in figuring out what to call the now famous gesture. "Fist-pound," "knuckle-bump," and "fist-to-fist thumbs up" were among the funnier examples, but one of them?"Hezbollah-style fist jab"?was particularly risible. It came from the Web site for Human Events, a hard-right weekly. Unfortunately, I failed to note that its provenance was not the magazine itself but a reader comment posted below an unrelated column by Cal Thomas. I linked the phrase to the column but didn't explain that the words weren't Thomas'.

Many "Trailhead" readers clicked through to Thomas' column and, not finding the phrase there, assumed that Thomas or his bosses had wiped it from his column. What really happened, it seems, is that Human Events removed the reader comment after many other readers posted comments taking offense and/or debunking it. These latter comments remained, while the comment that provoked the outrage vanished into thin air, creating further confusion about its origin.

From anonymous web comment to New Yorker cover to denunciations of David Remnick as an insensitive elitist. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates advises that "White people step away from the sepia-toned crayons" and stop drawing the Obamas, and upbraids Remnick for not understanding satire, which, he writes, must trade in "exaggeration" to be successful. And this particular New Yorker cover "exaggerates nothing." Well, I'll leave it to our clever commenters to quibble with Coates' definition of satire, but an image of Obama in the oval office, turban-clad, burning the American flag beneath a portrait of Osama bin Laden strikes me as, well, a pretty obvious exaggeration.

Besides, Coates argues, the "broader body politic" will not get the joke and, therefore, the cartoon is dangerous. It is a familiar (and unconvincing) argument. As Remnick observed, this is the most frequent criticism the magazine has received: "People say, well, I get it, but I'm afraid that so-and-so is not going to get it." Satire, then, mustn't be too complicated, lest its meaning be ambiguous, lest it turn the country rubes even more racist.

Strained headline reference here.

Update: Ta-Nehisi Coates emails with a clarification and a few sensible points: 

For the record, I don't think that the cartoon is dangerous at all, and I highly doubt that it'll convert anyone who was going to vote for Obama into a McCain voter. I do think it's bad satire though, not because it doesn't exaggerate Barack Obama, but becase it doesn't exaggerate the smears about him. It's literally is just a reflection of those smears. Nothing else. It's almost like a joke that's all setup and no punchline.

Anyway, I feel sort of dumb for even writing that post. I got lumped in with all the other nitwits who are running around talking about how they're now going to cancel their New Yorker subscription. You don't have to agree with my argument--indeed and completely open to my reading of the cartoon as being off. But I want to be clear about what my argument is. I don't think the cartoon does any damage. I don't think it's "racist." I don't think the NYer is part of some nefarious plot. I just, Didn't. Like. The picture. Seriously, nothing more than that.

If you haven't read Coates's terrific piece in The Atlantic on the "audacity of Bill Cosby's black conservatism," take 20 minutes and do so now. 

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  1. it’s called dap.

  2. Satire, then, mustn’t be too complicated, lest its meaning be ambiguous, lest it turn the country rubes even more racist.

    Cue the H&R rubes. You know who you are.

  3. an image of Obama in the oval office, turban-clad, burning the American flag beneath a portrait of Osama bin Laden strikes me as, well, a pretty obvious exaggeration

    Why? What is being exaggerated?

    He’s a little anti-American?

    A little Muslim?

    A little terroristic?

    The only item in that cover that was an exaggeration was the uber-kittenish look Michelle was giving him. She really does look like at him something like that.

    None of the other stuff is a hyperbolic treatment of something true. The AK, the Middle Eastern dress, the burning flag, the Osama picture are not “exaggerations” of anything true, but realistic depictions of smears that are false.

    Now, if the cover had shown that picture on a easel, while Rush Limbaugh stood in front of it holding a paintbrush while looking at a realistic view of the Obamas fist-bumping, that would be exaggeration. It would be a slighly hyperbolic depiction of how the righties see the Obamas.

  4. Um, isn’t it a little arrogant when Ta-Nehisi Coates tells all white people what to do?

  5. ed —

    Well, not for nothing, but properly executed satire generally includes some clues. For example, putting a cartoon on the cover of a magazine that many people will see and browse by, but are unlikely to actually buy and read the accompanying explanatory article (since, let’s face it, very few New Yorker writers are readable), was probably very stupid.

    Not by any means something that should be regulated or disallowed. Just pointed out as stupid.

  6. Would this cover be considered satire?

    I hope so cause I really wanna see that on the cover of National Review.

  7. Why do “hard right” blogs feel like they need to “clean up” their comments sections?

  8. Why on earth did Obama’s campaign complain about this? This may be the stupidest Obama “controversy” yet, and that’s saying something.

  9. Joe,

    What is being exaggerated is the tone of the right-wing commentary. McCain’s surrogates are not actually accusing the Obama’s of having framed photos of Osama, burning American flags, toting AK’s. They are calling them “soft on terrorists” and “not patriotic.” This is an exaggeration of that claim.

  10. I’m with you, Epi. Aside from the fact that the cover was not insulting the Obamas, I think he could have gotten more political mileage out of being magnanimous and saying some things about the freedom of the press.

    We still have freedom of the press, right?

  11. Why do “hard right” blogs feel like they need to “clean up” their comments sections?

    To be honest with you, we’re just looking for the Truthers.
    They’re everywhere.

  12. Epi, its not as stupid as Birth Certificate-gate.

    I don’t think its even quite as stupid as Bittergate.

  13. “None of the other stuff is a hyperbolic treatment of something true”

    No, it is a hyberbolic treatment of what the New Yorker thinks Obama’s critics think is true. I suppose they could have spelled it out more by making the cartoon the thought cloud of some redneck falling asleep in his chair, but I don’t think that is necessary.

  14. You’re right, NNG. They’re all unbelievably stupid.

  15. I’ll say one thing about McCain–hes run a clean campaign. Really.

    The dirtiest attacks have either been drummed up by the media, started by right wing bloggers, Hillary Clinton, or some combination of the three.

    McCain’s hands are clean in almost all the Obama dirt.

  16. Why? What is being exaggerated?

    Right-wing representations of the Obamas perhaps.

  17. the media’s difficulty in figuring out what to call the now famous gesture

    I’ve been calling it “punch it in” for almost 20 years now.

  18. The whole kerfluffle just proves that lefties have no more sense of humor than righties.

    And joe, given your definition, would a cover showing Dick Cheney preparing to eat a bowl of sugar-frosted babies not be an exaggeration (since he probably doesn’t actually eat babies, at least not the sugar-frosted kind)? Or, since he probably does eat some sort of breakfast cereal, would the cover qualify as exaggeration?

  19. Why on earth did Obama’s campaign complain about this? This may be the stupidest Obama “controversy” yet, and that’s saying something.

    Truer words are rarely spoken.

    McCain’s hands are clean in almost all the Obama dirt.

    When you have surogates, who needs to be a prick in person?

    “What, and have all that royal blood all over our hands? No, no, no, Duke Leto. I think you fled out into the desert after your son and that Bene Gesserit witch of yours, and then after that, can’t say.”

  20. Brian24,

    I don’t think it’s an exaggeration of what McCain’s surrogates are saying, but an accurate depiction of, for example, those Barack HUSSEIN Obama emails. One regular commenter on Hit & Run wrote that Michelle Obama “hates my children because of the color of their skin.”

    If “soft on terror” and “not patriotic” and the like were the bulk of what has been thrown at the Obamas, I think the reaction to that cover would have been different.

    Why on earth did Obama’s campaign complain about this? Because the appearance of such imagery without pushback would allow it to come to be seen as normal. It is currently considered unsavory and disreputable to use racial caricatures to depict Barack and Michelle Obama, and they want to keep it that way.

  21. So, the basic civility and social norms on a blog was enough to nip the fist bump rummer in the bud there. Unfortunately, reporters in echo chambers made it national news for weeks. Since “commenter makes rude comment” is not exactly breaking news, reporters should giver blogs a grace period of a couple of days to self-enforce civility before they broadcast the comment.

  22. Joe, you’re absolutely wrong.

    You know what is being exaggerated? The stupidity of people in the flyover states.

    That’s what the people objecting to the cartoon either don’t get, or are pretending not to get so they can hold a pity party to try to disingenuously generate sympathy for Obama.

    When that image appears as a New Yorker cartoon, the joke is saying – in much the same way one urbane New Yorker reader might say to another – “Lovey, those silly hicks between here and Vail think all sorts of idiotic things about Obama. Isn’t it funny to think about how stupid the average provincial American is, and then to laugh at them from our vantage point of comfortable cultural superiority?”

    It’s exaggerating the misconceptions stupid people have of Obama to laugh at stupid people, and not at the Obamas. I would bet you that the New Yorker’s readership would poll about as well for McCain as the Upper West Side would or as the Harvard faculty would. They’re not mocking the Obamas; they’re mocking the average Savage radio show listener.

  23. One regular commenter on Hit & Run wrote that Michelle Obama “hates my children because of the color of their skin.”

    Was it who you think I think it was?

  24. “One regular commenter on Hit & Run wrote that Michelle Obama “hates my children because of the color of their skin.”

    How many times has the left said that about a political enemy? Too many times to count. What is that person saying other than Michelle Obama is a racist? The left calls political opponents racists all the time and they certainly are not above claiming Republicans are out to get children and poor people. It is pretty rich to complain about that statement Joe.

  25. McCain’s hands are clean in almost all the Obama dirt.

    When you have surogates, who needs to be a prick in person?

    The Hillbots are McCain surrogates? I’m going to need a link for that.

    Blog comment note: Are we to the point yet where we can just type “IGTNALFT” instead of typing it out?

  26. Is this title a reference to those anti-drug ads where the kid says “I learned it from watching you, Dad!” If so, awesome.

    it’s called dap.

    Indeed.

  27. “It is currently considered unsavory and disreputable to use racial caricatures to depict Barack and Michelle Obama,”

    But it is perfectly okay to use disreputable caricatures of every other politician in the world. If Obama were truly a transcendent candidate and not interested in playing the race card, he wouldn’t feel that way. Instead, what he is doing is accusing anyone who criticizes him of being a racist. The cartoon and the reaction to it have played perfectly into his hands by lumping all criticism in with the kind of caracature presented in the cartoon.

  28. Because the appearance of such imagery without pushback would allow it to come to be seen as normal.

    Well, it’s everywhere now–way, way, way outside the New Yorker-reading Thurston Howell III’s that it would have been limited to. So it’s actually way more normal than it would have been.

    It was a bonehead move to complain.

  29. Oh, OK, you addressed my point in response to others.

    Because the appearance of such imagery without pushback would allow it to come to be seen as normal.

    In other words, you get the joke, but you have decided to pretend you don’t get the joke and to claim that the Obamas were the target of this caricature, in order to score political points.

    In other words, it’s typical dissembling, i.e. lying.

  30. John,
    I don’t even understand what you’re saying. I can’t follow your logic.

  31. I’m concerned that I find myself agreeing with John. But I do. Crying “racism” over a New Yorker cover — a New Fucking Yorker cover — is just mindboggling, especially when everyone knows they’re actually anti-Semites.

  32. Who cares

  33. Apparently you do, Bingo.

  34. If Obama were truly a transcendent candidate and not interested in playing the race card, he wouldn’t feel that way. Instead, what he is doing is accusing anyone who criticizes him of being a racist. The cartoon and the reaction to it have played perfectly into his hands by lumping all criticism in with the kind of caracature presented in the cartoon.

    No, I think it’s one level more dishonest than that.

    The cartoon doesn’t even criticize Obama. The Obamas are not the target of the humor in the cartoon. The cartoon is PRO-Obama.

    They’re playing the race card once removed by attacking a pro-Obama cartoon for using imagery that might be used by the very people the cartoon is making fun of. They’re doing this even though they know that the cartoon is pro-Obama, because they know that people are stupid and the press will let them get away with it.

  35. Those fiends!

    OK, was that explanation of the title here the whole time and I just missed it? Or was it added in later?

  36. an image of Obama in the oval office, turban-clad, burning the American flag beneath a portrait of Osama bin Laden strikes me as, well, a pretty obvious exaggeration.

    Of course it’s an exaggeration. As a devout Muslim, Obama would never have a picture of Bin Laden on the wall. He would probably have a calligraphied verse from the Koran or a decapitated infidel’s head instead.

  37. Are we to the point yet where we can just type “IGTNALFT” instead of typing it out?

    I’ve been using [citation needed] lately. I need a sign with that to carry with me. Reference xkcd.

  38. the appearance of such imagery without pushback would allow it to come to be seen as normal

    Wow, joe’s a crusading superhero now. It’s just a friggin’ magazine cover. It’s not that important, and you can’t do a thing about it. Get over yourself.

  39. joe,

    Fine, but I don’t think The New Yorker is satirizing what some commenter on reason.com said. They’re satirizing the more mainstream right-wing commentary.

    This all seems fairly obvious to me, frankly, and I think the cover’s well done.

  40. They’re playing the race card once removed by attacking a pro-Obama cartoon for using imagery that might be used by the very people the cartoon is making fun of. They’re doing this even though they know that the cartoon is pro-Obama, because they know that people are stupid and the press will let them get away with it.

    So they’re either slick as hell or are total idiots. Not good for the candidate of hope and change.

  41. You know what is being exaggerated? The stupidity of people in the flyover states.

    Are you calling us stupid because we launched Obama’s campaign and mortally wounded Clinton at the Caucuses last January?

    Or were you assuming that the bullshit attitudes of elitist pricks in New York represent a valid description of us dumb yokels in the fly-over states.

  42. Hey, ROOB!!

  43. iowan-

    I think he meant “Appalachia”, the upper midwest, Great Plains, and the Rockies are very pro-obama.

    Which is why phrases such as “flyover country” are stupid.

  44. Fluffy,

    When did I pretend not to get the joke? I even explained why the joke failed, and how it could have been made better. I’m not sure what your bitch here is.

    John writes, But it is perfectly okay to use disreputable caricatures of every other politician in the world. Not racist ones, it’s not.

    If Obama were truly a transcendent candidate and not interested in playing the race card, he wouldn’t feel that way. Um, if Obama was truly not interested in “playing the race card,” he wouldn’t complain about attacks which even you, his political enemy, acknowledge are racist. You heard it here first, folks: “playing the race card” now includes complaining about actual racism.

    Episiarch, Well, it’s everywhere now–way, way, way outside the New Yorker-reading Thurston Howell III’s that it would have been limited to. So it’s actually way more normal than it would have been. It’s been more widely distributed, yes, but it’s been widely distributed within stories about how terrible it is. That doesn’t normalize it.

  45. Shorter Fluffy: when I put a black lawn jockey in my yard, it’s ironic. Everyone knows that!

  46. Which is why phrases such as “flyover country” are stupid.

    Agreed, however “flyover country” is pretty commonly known as everything between the west-coast big-cities and the east-coast big-cities. Occasionally, those wankers from the coasts will exempt the rust-belt big-cities.

  47. 1. Under the BHO regime benevolent leadership, such covers will be banned as “hate”. His “forces” will make sure of that. (It’s odd how Reason hasn’t covered either of those. The Orange Line runs silent and deep!)

    2. Various kinds of sites “clean-up” their comments sections; see examples here. Just recently, Alternet “clean-up” one, I’m StillBannedFromCrooksAndLiars, BoingBoing (the site Reason wants to be) DeletedACoupleFromMe, and so on.

  48. It took you OverFiftyPosts to show up, LoneMoron. You’re losing your edge.

  49. Or were you assuming that the bullshit attitudes of elitist pricks in New York represent a valid description of us dumb yokels in the fly-over states.

    Jesus Christ you fucking people need to be held by the fucking hand, don’t you?

    I am trying to explain the joke.

    That means that I have to describe the frame of mind that informs the joke.

    Or did you mess the whole part of my post where I made up a fake quote from the cartoonist’s perspective?

  50. I’m going to guess that ed’s resume doesn’t inlcude a BA in Communications and a summa cum laude.

    It’s just a friggin’ magazine cover. It’s not that important, Uh, yeah, since when does imagery that gets passed around in the media influence political campaigns? What are you, kidding me?

    and you can’t do a thing about it. I was talking about the Obama campaign’s pushback, Einstein, not mine. You might have figured that out, by looking at the little question in italics, which was Why on earth did Obama’s campaign complain about this?

  51. Lonewacko is like the crazy guy on the street corner yelling about stuff that no one cares about, only he does it on the internet.

  52. Shorter Fluffy: when I put a black lawn jockey in my yard, it’s ironic. Everyone knows that!

    Nope, not even close.

    I know you understand the joke.

    You know I know it.

    By continuing to pretend that you don’t know it, you’re just being a big fat motherfucking liar.

    But that’s OK for you, I suppose, because we should have known that you would turn into a big fat motherfucking liar if that was what the Democrat talking point of the day demanded.

    Everyone here knows I hate McCain. As a practical matter, by hoping for a crushing McCain defeat, that means I am rooting for an Obama victory, because obviously Barr can’t possibly win. So I am obviously not interjecting myself into this thread to pick on Obama.

    I’m just not going to swallow every piece of bullshit spin the Obama campaign puts out between now and November, no matter how much I hate John McCain. And that’s what this is.

    I have no doubt there are lots of people on the Democrat side who are flat out too stupid to get the joke, and who see a picture of Michelle Obama as a black militant and immediately play the race card. Their outrage is genuine, but stupid. Your outrage is not genuine, because I know that you understand the joke. And demonstrating faux outrage makes you a gigantic douchebag. Period. There is little in this world lower than faux outrage. There is little that has done more to putrefy and debase our political debate than faux outrage. So shove it up your ass.

  53. If it wasn’t for thin-skinned Progressives, I wouldn’t know what to think about anything. I might see some sort of hate crime, and think it was merely lame.

  54. “It’s just a friggin’ magazine cover. It’s not that important, Uh, yeah, since when does imagery that gets passed around in the media influence political campaigns? What are you, kidding me?”

    Yes Joe. The Obama campaign is doomed because of a cartoon on the cover of magazine no one has read in 40 years will cause all of America will think he is a terrorist Muslim. Come on. This is stupid.

  55. I’ve been using [citation needed] lately. I need a sign with that to carry with me. Reference xkcd.

    I’ve always loved that one.

    As for your request, R C Dean, I wasn’t trying to argue that a *particular* incident of Baracknaphobia was started by McCain surrogates. I meant only to imply that it was *laughably naive* to think that McCain’s campaign does not engage in this stuff through surrogates.

    Everyone does it. *Everyone*.

  56. Michelle should be pleased with her caricature. The artist could have easily exaggerated her dishwasher-sized butt (giving her a legitimate complaint) but instead he made her into a thin, hot militant babe. If that’s an insult–and as bad as it ever gets–she should be grateful.

  57. FWIW, I smirked at the cartoon. The Obama campaigns’ (faux) outrage is overdone, but from my perspective so is the outrage about the outrage.

  58. And by the way, don’t EVEN fall back to,

    “Well, even if this is a pro-Obama joke, it’s bad that the ‘imagery get out there’, anyway.”

    Not saying that you’re about to say this, but other have. And it’s absolutely wrong. Every act of communication gets to get judged on its own merits, by its own actual demonstrable content, context and intent. The fact that “imagery getting out there” might “normalize” the use of such imagery by dumbass yokel chain-email-believing retard rednecks doesn’t mean a god damn thing.

    That whole subset of people who are saying, “Well, we know what the cartoonist meant, but we’re still going to pretend to be outraged, because we want to discourage others from using similar imagery with different intent and meaning,” are pathetic. Openly admitting that you’ve decided to be both disingenuous and unjust is no way to convince me of your point, folks.

  59. ed, couldn’t resist the crypto-sexism? Come on, focus.

  60. Jesus Christ you fucking people need to be held by the fucking hand, don’t you?

    Of course, I’m from flyover country.

    I am trying to explain the joke.

    Wasted effort.

    That means that I have to describe the frame of mind that informs the joke.

    You did not do that well.

    Or did you mess the whole part of my post where I made up a fake quote from the cartoonist’s perspective?

    You need to work on your communications skills.

  61. This could have played well for Obama. But it seems that it is just making him and his supporters look like humorless pricks.

  62. You know what? Fuck it, Iowan.

    If you want to pretend that when I wrote:

    Lovey, those silly hicks between here and Vail think all sorts of idiotic things about Obama. Isn’t it funny to think about how stupid the average provincial American is, and then to laugh at them from our vantage point of comfortable cultural superiority?

    …then you are, in fact, a stupid hick, and if you think I’m making fun of your state that’s just fine, and maybe you should go pick some corn now and shut the fuck up.

  63. …then you are, in fact, a stupid hick, and if you think I’m making fun of your state that’s just fine, and maybe you should go pick some corn now and shut the fuck up.

    That should have read:

    …I was describing my own state of mind, then you are, in fact, a stupid hick, and if you think I’m making fun of your state that’s just fine, and maybe you should go pick some corn now and shut the fuck up.

    Joe’s law strikes again.

  64. maybe you should go pick some corn now and shut the fuck up

    And demonstrating faux outrage makes you a gigantic douchebag.

    It’s not “queef” but damn it’s still entertaining.

  65. …I was describing my own state of mind, . . .

    My last post did not accuse you of evil intent. It said that you need to work on your writing skills. The post as written is disjointed and it was not clear what message you were trying to get across.

    Generally speaking, trying to explain jokes leads no where good.

  66. This could have played well for Obama. But it seems that it is just making him and his supporters look like humorless pricks.>/i>

    Well, there are no jokes in Islam.

  67. crypto-sexism

    It isn’t sexism if it’s true.
    My god, you could park a plane on that tarmac.

  68. Some ethanol musta found its way into iowan’s cornflakes this morning.

    Fluffy makes a good point. Pretending to be dumber than one actually is is pretty icky. Seems to be a national passtime, though (see Hil’s inane whining about globalization or Obama’s waffling on free trade).

  69. I got what Fluffy was saying but then again my mind is fairly disjointed.

  70. It isn’t sexism if it’s true.

    OK, this makes no sense and you know it.

  71. To be honest with you, we’re just looking for the Truthers.
    They’re everywhere.

    This is oddly plausible.

  72. iowan is obtuse but the mind naturally develops like that when all you got to look at are cornfields and those fine-lookin ewes.

  73. I’m sorry you lost it, Fluffy, but don’t expect me to read the rest of your tirades, if you’re going to flip out like that.

  74. “Well, there are no jokes in Islam.”

    Obama is just an uptight whinny white guy in a half black body. He is a lot more Steve Urkell than Malcolm X. I cant for the life of me see why anyone finds him charismatic. Hell, he could be a hardcore conservative Republican and I would still think he is a dork.

  75. Obama is just an uptight whinny white guy in a half black body.

    OK, you hit my pet peeve. Defining “whiteness” or race in general as personality traits or even cultural values.

  76. Well, Obama threads always make me wanna face-palm, I’ll give ’em that.

  77. “OK, you hit my pet peeve. Defining “whiteness” or race in general as personality traits or even cultural values.”

    There is a difference in culture betweeen white people and black people. Not that one is better than the other. Granted, that is a generality. I have known white people that pretty black and black people who are whiter thna I am. Call it what you want. Maybe black versus white has too much history to use. But, Obama strikes me as your typical earnest, dorky liberal beta male. Most of the people who fit that description are white, but as Obama shows, not all.

  78. I’m sorry you lost it, Fluffy, but don’t expect me to read the rest of your tirades, if you’re going to flip out like that.

    And now you sink even lower.

    You’ve made the transition from “guy being disingenuous to attempt to maintain a talking point” to “guy declaring that if someone uses the word ‘douchebag’ he doesn’t have to respond to the substance of the point”.

    You are now Hugh Hewitt. Congratulations.

  79. What, exactly, is supposed to make it clear that this is a satire of the smears against the Obamas, and not just a repetition of them?

  80. Bingo writes: Lonewacko is like the crazy guy on the street corner yelling about stuff that no one cares about, only he does it on the internet.

    Oddly enough, I’ve received thousands of hits to this post about BHO’s “forces”, and it’s been discussed by many other sites. Just not the “libertarians” at Reason for some odd reason. Maybe they’re looking forward to the nifty uniforms or something.

    And, one might think that a pledge to drive “hate” off the air might be of interest to libertarians, but not so the “libertarians” at Reason.

    Odd.

  81. Joe, you’re absolutely wrong.

    You know what is being exaggerated? The stupidity of people in the flyover states.

    That’s what the people objecting to the cartoon either don’t get, or are pretending not to get so they can hold a pity party to try to disingenuously generate sympathy for Obama.

    When that image appears as a New Yorker cartoon, the joke is saying – in much the same way one urbane New Yorker reader might say to another – “Lovey, those silly hicks between here and Vail think all sorts of idiotic things about Obama. Isn’t it funny to think about how stupid the average provincial American is, and then to laugh at them from our vantage point of comfortable cultural superiority?”

    It’s exaggerating the misconceptions stupid people have of Obama to laugh at stupid people, and not at the Obamas. I would bet you that the New Yorker’s readership would poll about as well for McCain as the Upper West Side would or as the Harvard faculty would. They’re not mocking the Obamas; they’re mocking the average Savage radio show listener.

    OK, I’ve read this half a dozen times now, and I still not sure who Fluffy thinks New Yoker is making fun of.

  82. Fluffy said it best. Watching all the loopy and ignorant commentary about this pile of nonsense, on certain lefty blogs I once respected, has been very dispiriting.

  83. iowan,

    OK, I’ve read this half a dozen times now, and I still not sure who Fluffy thinks New Yoker is making fun of.

    Oh, you understand. Of course you understand. You’re just pretending not to understand to make a point.

    Gaaah Aarrgh Gack!!!! *Falls under desk*

  84. OK, this makes no sense and you know it.

    How is it “sexism” to point out that a woman has a large ass? It’s a simple observation.

  85. Besides, brother Obama likes that junk in the trunk. Tee hee hee.

  86. What, exactly, is supposed to make it clear that this is a satire of the smears against the Obamas, and not just a repetition of them?

    1. Their context.

    2. The over-the-top juxtaposition of every one of the smears in one absurd image.

    It is difficult to mock the lowbrow right wing these days, precisely because they have lowered the bar so far that it’s difficult to get under it far enough to make the point. But the cartoonist has done it here because it’s clearly mockery.

    It’s like asking for a verbal explanation of what makes it clear that the racial epithets in Blazing Saddles are satire. The answer is “Um, watch the movie.”

  87. Nice follow-up by Coates. The man realizes that sometimes you have to backpedal to move forward.

    joe asks “What, exactly, is supposed to make it clear that this is a satire of the smears against the Obamas, and not just a repetition of them?”

    My answer: Perhaps the big ass words THE NEW YORKER printed at the top of the page?

  88. Oh yeah I forgot to mention;

    I HATE ALL OF YOU.

  89. Speaking of the Michelle caricature: does Michelle Obama have a tight, curly afro?

  90. Most of the people who fit that description are white, but as Obama shows, not all.

    That’s my whole point. Generalities have some use, but they start falling apart at the individual level. On a personal level, even though I’m black, I fit more generally into indie culture than any stereotypical conception of where I should fit in. Then I saw Afro-Punk and said, “ah.”

  91. 1. Their context. What context? There is actually a movie surrounding the racial jokes in Blazing Saddles. You can’t see those scenes without seeing the movie.

    2. The over-the-top juxtaposition of every one of the smears in one absurd image. Fluffy, you never got the “Barack HUSSEIN Obama” email, did you? You want to talk about over-the-top juxtopositions?

    While piling them all on top of each other is a pretty good indicator that the piece is satire, I don’t see how it’s supposed to indicate that it’s satire of the image rather than of the people themselves.

    Put it this way: if someone wanted to put together a propaganda picture about the scary, black, radical, Mooslem, terrorist-loving, America-hating Obamas, how would it look any different from this cover?

  92. Here’s another way to know that the images are satire:

    Now, if the cover had shown that picture on a easel, while Rush Limbaugh stood in front of it holding a paintbrush while looking at a realistic view of the Obamas fist-bumping, that would be exaggeration. It would be a slighly hyperbolic depiction of how the righties see the Obamas.

    The fact that in the very first post you made on the subject you have already made it clear that you know that it’s satire. By writing this you’re making it clear that you understand the cartoon fully. You looked at the images and said, “Oh they’re lampooning what a stupid right winger thinks about the Obamas. But why didn’t they put a picture of Rush in there? That way all the retarded kids out there would get the joke, too.” You saw the satire, you just are demanding the inclusion of an additional image to make it into “paint by numbers, ram you over the head with it, painfully obvious” satire. If your rule of thumb is “It’s not satire until I can be sure the most stupid person in the world will get the joke” then you have a problem.

  93. OK, I’ve read this half a dozen times now, and I still not sure who Fluffy thinks New Yoker is making fun of.

    Dude, you are the one with reading comprehension problems.

    Fluffy said “Lovey, those silly hicks between here and Vail think all sorts of idiotic things about Obama. Isn’t it funny to think about how stupid the average provincial American is, and then to laugh at them from our vantage point of comfortable cultural superiority?”

    He is giving his impression of what New Yorker readers think about, well, you.

    Maybe if you read that quote in a Thurston Howell III voice it’ll become more clear.

  94. What, exactly, is supposed to make it clear that this is a satire of the smears against the Obamas, and not just a repetition of them?

    That was my thought about the cover too. As someone who has never read the New Yorker and don’t know it’s political leanings, I was unsure about what the cover was implying.

    If it wasn’t for the commentary by others I could have easily have seen the cover and thought that the New Yorker actually sees the Obamas that way. I could have also perceived it to be a caricature of the smears because I would assume no legitimate publication would really run a cover like that to attack a major candidate. But I would have to make certain assumptions to draw the latter conclustion — assumptions that, without being familiar with the New Yorker, I don’t think I would have made.

    I wish I would have seen the cover before I had seen the reaction to it.

    It wasn’t an over the top depiction of the smears and it wasn’t obvious parody. In fact it basically was an illustration of the things that are being said about him without hyperbole or exaggeration.

    Although I don’t think the cover is inherently offensive (now that I know their intent), I do think that whoever penned it and whoever chose to run it need to either get better at satire/parody or just stop trying — cuz this was a FAIL. If I can’t tell what message they are trying to get across without reading an accompanying article or a critique of the thing, then they haven’t really done a good job.

  95. For the record, I don’t think that the cartoon is dangerous at all, and I highly doubt that it’ll convert anyone who was going to vote for Obama into a McCain voter. I do think it’s bad satire though, not because it doesn’t exaggerate Barack Obama, but becase it doesn’t exaggerate the smears about him. It’s literally is just a reflection of those smears. Nothing else. It’s almost like a joke that’s all setup and no punchline.

    I want to be clear about what my argument is. I don’t think the cartoon does any damage. I don’t think it’s “racist.” I don’t think the NYer is part of some nefarious plot. I just, Didn’t. Like. The picture. Seriously, nothing more than that.

    Exactly. I know enough about the guy who plays Kramer to know what he was going for when he went off on his little “nigger” tirade – he was trying to do a bit about people who freak out over black people. It still sucked, because there wasn’t any “bit about people who…” in that bit. It was just him, freaking out over a black person.

  96. After all, people buy into aspects of culture at the individual level. BTW, I’m reading Coates’ Cosby article now. Long, but good.

  97. Fluffy, I think you need to apologize to ChicagoTom.

    You just called him a retarded kid.

  98. Anyway, I feel sort of dumb for even writing that post. I got lumped in with all the other nitwits who are running around talking about how they’re now going to cancel their New Yorker subscription.

    I don’t subscribe to The New Yorker along with about 300,000,000 other americans….are we all nitwits?

    Plus there is the obvious reasoning that the cover was simply a ploy to increase readership…are people who cancel because of that reasoning also nitwits?

    How about people who just really don’t think about it and subscribe but because the very subject of canceling came up because of this cover thing and despite having really no feelings one way or the other about the cover simply realized that they really don’t like the New yorker so canceled…are they nitwits?

  99. joe asks “What, exactly, is supposed to make it clear that this is a satire of the smears against the Obamas, and not just a repetition of them?”

    My answer: Perhaps the big ass words THE NEW YORKER printed at the top of the page?

    joe, you need to read what CN wrote here. Because if you aren’t being utterly fucking dishonest, it would have to mean that you think The New Yorker would actually print a picture like that that isn’t satire.

    Which is it?

  100. Dude, you are the one with reading comprehension problems.

    You know what is being exaggerated? The stupidity of people in the flyover states.

    Perhaps I got stuck at the short, clearly-unambiguous declarative statement at the beginning of the post. Perhaps I failed to give Fluffy the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I assumed that Fluffy was just a dickhead and that the rest of the post wasn’t worth paying much attention to. Perhaps.

  101. The fact that in the very first post you made on the subject you have already made it clear that you know that it’s satire. By writing this you’re making it clear that you understand the cartoon fully.

    What a crock of shit.

    He may know that NOW — after so much discussion has occurred. But that doesn’t mean he knew it the first time he or anyone saw the cover.

    Unless you are a reader of the New Yorker or very familiar with it, there was no context to make one think it was parody.

    Anyone who believes that because its on the cover of “The New Yorker” somehow gives it the proper context is a fucking moron.

    Is the New York post liberal too? I mean it has New York in its name so it must be right?

  102. Here’s the thread about the Michael Richards brouhahah.

    https://www.reason.com/news/show/116845.html

    Not seeing a whole lot of “but he was trying to tell a joke” on that thread.

  103. I’m supposed to know that the New Yorker would’t be trading in racial stereotypes, because…they’re liberal? They’re New Yorkers? They’re from the city where Hillary and Geraldine live? Because mainsteam media publications couldn’t possibly get caught up in the lunatic smears that have been thrown Barack Obama’s way?

    Quick, call me dishonest and swear again, because this line of argument isn’t going anywhere good.

  104. Anyone who believes that because its on the cover of “The New Yorker” somehow gives it the proper context is a fucking moron.

    First of all, I’m surprised that you have no idea what The New Yorker is about, because it’s the epitome of the monocled, top-hat-wearing, opera-and-dinner-at-the-Guggenheim-function stereotype.

    Secondly, it’s not our fault you don’t know. The New Yorker may be a bit of an inside joke but then, if you see the cover, you go find out what it’s about, right?

  105. “On a personal level, even though I’m black, I fit more generally into indie culture than any stereotypical conception of where I should fit in. Then I saw Afro-Punk and said, “ah.””

    At least you fit in somewhere. I am a conservative republican but find upper class white people highly annoying most of the time and never fit in with them. Try being that sometime.

  106. Of course.

    I mean, I buy every magazine whose cover I see. Especially the ones that have racial caricatures on them.

    You aren’t making any sense.

  107. Fluffy, I think you need to apologize to ChicagoTom.

    You just called him a retarded kid.

    ChicagoTom also admitted to not having enough familiarity with the New Yorker to know where they were coming from.

    If that’s really the case, then we’ll just have to leave him out of the discussion.

    Because I hate to say it, but any reasonably literate person should have that information just as cultural baggage.

    It’s not even a matter of the magazine’s political leanings. Politics actually has little to do with it. Culturally, the New Yorker stands for highbrow east Coast opinion and always has. Their viewpoint has always been one of elite “coastal” opinion. Iowan seems to think that I’m a huge jerk because I can immediately decode where they’re coming from, and maybe it does. But no one with the level of familiarity with the magazine appropriate for an educated and aware American would fail to understand that the cartoon is making fun of “people who aren’t like us, the really really smart readership of the New Yorker, with all their silly beliefs about Obama.”

    By the way, Iowan is being pretty reasonable now and making me look like a big dick. Damn you and your trickery, Iowan!

  108. How many people have canceled their subscriptions to the New Yorker over Seymor Hersch articles?

  109. John,

    Henry David Thoreau and Ted Kaczyn–the Unabomber didn’t fit in very well, and at least one of them was a success.

  110. Anyone who believes that because its on the cover of “The New Yorker” somehow gives it the proper context is a fucking moron.

    Well, I tried to be delicate about it in my other post mentioning you, but I guess if you’re going to be a dick about it I’ll just if you really think this, just fucking go on “Jaywalk All-Stars” right now, because you’re a half-educated rube.

  111. ChicagoTom,
    Are you really that clueless about The New Yorker or just pretending? I hope it’s the latter.

  112. OK, so he’s an illeterate retarded kid. Nice.

    Now, of course, you know that ChicagoTom is, in fact, an intelligent, educated, thoughtful, sophistacated person. Not some hillbilly from Iowa at all. (Yes, I know. That’s the humor.)

    But it’s grotesquely false, to the point that you need to start ranting about “motherfucking liars” for me to say that there is not enough context on that cover to convey the artist’s intent.

    OK.

  113. And btw, since Joe and now Chicago Tom are trying to pretend that Joe still doesn’t get the joke –

    Give me a fucking break.

    You Roveian bastards.

    “We got called on our bullshit? No problem, we’ll just continue to deny. They’ll get tired of correcting us before we’ll get tired of our pretense.”

    Now you’re not even Hugh Hewitt. Now you’re Michelle fucking Malkin.

  114. And apparently joe is as clueless as ChicagoTom, at least when it comes to magazines and American culture.

  115. I admit it. I’m a New Yorker subscriber. I’m from James Thurber’s hometown. It’s mandatory.

  116. Hey, wait a minnit!

    The Democrats are gonna run a black guy for President?

  117. You know what?

    It’s good to know that I’m never going to be accused of racism, racial stereotyping, or having a tin ear about racial issues, ever again, on these threads.

    I’m about as “highbrow east Coast opinion” as one can be. So, obviously, if anything I write could even remotely be interpreted as being less than perfectly enlightened about any racial, gender, ethnic, or religious grouop, you’ll all just assume that it’s brilliant satire. Because I come from Massachusetts, dahling.

    Right?

  118. Because mainsteam media publications couldn’t possibly get caught up in the lunatic smears that have been thrown Barack Obama’s way?

    joe, the idea of The New Yorker doing anything that crude is laughable. For fuck’s sake, it’s the paper where you look for listings for apartments for sale on CPW for $8 million.

  119. Michelle Malkin?
    Ok, Fluf. I think you finally went over the line.

  120. Oh, well, if they’re rich, liberal, and from New York, then that’s that, Episiarch.

  121. What, exactly, is supposed to make it clear that this is a satire of the smears against the Obamas, and not just a repetition of them?

    If The New Yorker printed a mock up of Bush blowing up the twin towers it would just be a repetition of Truether smears right?

    Wrong. It would be satire.

    Printing cartoons of smears propagated from deleted commenter posts on obscure blogs is not “just a repetition of them”. It is exposing their absurdity.

  122. I’m from James Thurber’s hometown.

    Woot woot! Incidentally (I’m like an old guy who tells the same story over and over again) I read my first issue of Reason at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Plus, I used to check out movies a lot there. They had a great collection.

  123. Of course, j.c, the idiot Republicans wouldn’t get it, and there’d be a big kerfluffle.

  124. Citizen Nothing –

    I think they’re pretending. Partially to poke me with a stick, and in Joe’s case because his chief loyalty remains the talking point.

    Even though in posts not pointed directly at me he’s as much as come out and admitted he got the joke, he’s not going to back away from denouncing the New Yorker, because that’s what the Obama campaign is doing today, so joe will fight to find a way to justify it no matter what the facts are.

    It’s like when Obama fucked over the civil libertarians among his supporters on the FISA bill, and joe contorted himself into 100 different shapes to try to find a way to claim that it wasn’t a fucking. Anything directly related to the campaign, you can not really count on joe to honestly argue for the next few months. General issues of policy and philosophy, he’ll probably be the same old joe, but if Obama’s name is involved he’s going to act as if he is the campaign spokesman and that’s pretty much that.

    That’s where this whole “I’m going to demand ever more detailed descriptions and explanations of a visual joke, even though I’ve already made it clear that I already understand it. That way it will take the focus off my disingenuousness and faux outrage,” thing comes from.

  125. Printing cartoons of smears propagated from deleted commenter posts on obscure blogs is not “just a repetition of them”. It is exposing their absurdity.

    Is this one a’ them vicious loops?

    So, obviously, if anything I write could even remotely be interpreted as being less than perfectly enlightened about any racial, gender, ethnic, or religious grouop, you’ll all just assume that it’s brilliant satire.

    It was pretty funny when you called me “that colored fella.” [citation needed]

  126. If The New Yorker printed a mock up of Bush blowing up the twin towers it would just be a repetition of Truether smears right?

    I’d think that they were slagging on George Bush, and not the Troofers.

    If the cartoon-Dubya was wearing a huge cowboy hat and boots, with an 8-ball of coke falling out of his pocket, yadda yadda yadda with all of the stereotypes, I’d be even more likely to see it that way.

  127. It’s good to know that I’m never going to be accused of racism, racial stereotyping, or having a tin ear about racial issues, ever again, on these threads.

    I’m about as “highbrow east Coast opinion” as one can be. So, obviously, if anything I write could even remotely be interpreted as being less than perfectly enlightened about any racial, gender, ethnic, or religious grouop, you’ll all just assume that it’s brilliant satire. Because I come from Massachusetts, dahling.

    Right?

    Actually, I remember a thread where you compared someone else’s point to a belief that blacks engaged in some stereotypical activity, and either John or Guy Montag or one of that crew went on and on for hours about how the fact that you would employ such an example meant that you were secretly racist.

    That’s what you’re doing now.

  128. I think the main problem with joe is that, unlike The New Yorker, he does not realizes that all the hoopla about Obama smears is a fabrication of the fringe and not a main stream phenomena.

    Joe seriously thinks there are Conservative think tanks dreaming this stuff up rather then the fact that it is simply weirdos in basements that are getting play time on MSM simply because of how off the wall it is and the fact that left leaning elements in MSM think it might garner Obama sympathy.

  129. Fluffy can’t refute anything I’ve written, so he’s on to Plan B:

    “joe is a Democrat. What he’s saying favors the Democrat. Therefore, he must be wrong.”

    Yawn.

  130. That’s what you’re doing now.

    Except I haven’t accused the New Yorker of being racist, just of putting out a bad cartoon that is easy to misunderstand.

    So no, not really.

  131. First of all, I’m surprised that you have no idea what The New Yorker is about, because it’s the epitome of the monocled, top-hat-wearing, opera-and-dinner-at-the-Guggenheim-function stereotype.

    As a hick from flyoever country, I had actually no idea what kind of rag New Yorker is 😉

  132. joshua,

    You misunderstand. I know that the smears depicted in this cartoon, the ones from the email, aren’t coming out of the McCain campaign or AEI or the RNC. I think your Truther comparison is a good one.

    I also know that those smears are believed by a surprisingly large segment of the population. That’s my problem here.

  133. Well, I tried to be delicate about it in my other post mentioning you, but I guess if you’re going to be a dick about it I’ll just if you really think this, just fucking go on “Jaywalk All-Stars” right now, because you’re a half-educated rube.

    *I* am being the dick? The guy who thinks that everyone should be as aware as they are is the dick?? Really? Project much asshole?

    SHorter Fluffy: ANYONE WHO ISNT AS AWARE OF EVERY LIBERAL MAG LIKE I AM IS A RUBE.

    Hey Fluffy — Go fuck yourself, ok?

    Are you really that clueless about The New Yorker or just pretending? I hope it’s the latter.

    Why would I pretend? And why am I supposed to be familiar with the New Yorker? Is the New Yorker like USA Today or something? I don’t get why “THE NEW YORKER” is something everyone is supposed to be aware of, much less have it’s political leanings be common knowledge?

    And apparently joe is as clueless as ChicagoTom, at least when it comes to magazines and American culture.

    Yes, not being very away of every piece of shit magazine out there makes one “clueless”. ANYONE WHO ISNT AWARE OF REASON AND ITS POLITICAL LEANINGS ARE CLUELESS!!!!!!!

    I think they’re pretending. Partially to poke me with a stick, ….

    You flatter yourself too much. Like I give a fuck about you to such an extent.

    The bottom line is that you are the one attacking others and calling people liars because you just can’t acknowledge that you assumed everyone has the same degree of knowledge or insight as you do, you fucking asswipe.

  134. You have just as much knowledge and insight as Fluffy, ChiTom.

    But being from Chicago, yours is less centered on New York as some people’s.

  135. Is the next four years going to be one, big, long, stupid argument that goes:

    “RACIST!”

    Nu-uh, you’re the REAL RACIST!”

    Please tell me no.

  136. I’m about as “highbrow east Coast opinion” as one can be.

    No, you are about as “Obama campaign talking points” as one can be. Maybe you really don’t know what The New Yorker is about if you think your working-class Irish Masshole ass is anything like that.

  137. ChicagoTom also admitted to not having enough familiarity with the New Yorker to know where they were coming from.

    If that’s really the case, then we’ll just have to leave him out of the discussion.

    You know what’s funny…it’s people like me (people who are unfamiliar with the NEW YORKER) who are the whole point of the discussion.

    The fact is that to someone who isn’t aware of the mag and its politics, this cover is a hardly a good example of parody/satire. And that is exactly the point of the whole thing.

    The satire only works for “insiders” or political junkies. I would imagine that most people don’t have a keen understanding of the political leanings of the New Yorker — hence the bruhaha.

  138. Maybe if you write the words “talking points” a few more times, Episiarch, no one will notice that you can’t answer my questions or rebut my arguments.

    Maybe, if you’re really lucky, nobody will notice that I have never claimed to misunderstand what the cartoonist was going for, or that my criticism is entirely that he failed to convey his point.

  139. Joe, I have refuted EVERYTHING you have written.

    The bottom line is this:

    The cartoon was a satire of the false beliefs about Obama by the lumpenproletariat of the right wing.

    You have acknowledged this. You may say that it wasn’t well executed, or that the inclusion of additional images may have made that more immediately clear to the uninformed casual viewer of the magazine cover. But that doesn’t actually matter to the substance of the argument. You’ve acknowledged that you do, in fact, understand what the cartoon is about, and have also stated explicitly that it’s not racist, wasn’t intended to harm the Obama campaign, and won’t have any harmful impact on the Obama campaign.

    My point remains that if all the things you have acknowledged are true, there are no grounds for criticizing the New Yorker, and that the outrage being directed at the cartoon by the Obama campaign is disingenuous and unjust.

    You have made separate counterclaims to my point:

    You have pretended that the cartoon contains insufficient clues to the joke – even though you understood and understand the joke. It is not possible for the cartoon to be insufficiently clear if you and I can understand it.

    You have, contradictorily, said that even if the images in this context aren’t intended as abuse of the Obamas, you have to denounce them anyway, because you want it to remain disreputable to use caricatures to depict the Obamas. Any my response to this is that it’s also absurdly unjust to denounce someone for using a non-abusive caricature because you’re afraid that someone else might use an abusive one.

    For you to refute my points, you would have to prove:

    1. A reasonably well informed person would not have any way to know that the cartoon was satire.

    or

    2. It is fair to run the New Yorker through the ringer because someone else might someday employ the same images in a non-satirical way.

    I don’t see how you can prove either of those things. Sorry.

  140. But being from Chicago, yours is less centered on New York as some people’s.

    Apparently, I am just a rube or a liar. So say Flully, Episarch, and Citizen Nothing — it can’t be that I just really am unfamiliar with some little POS magazine.

    What the fuck is wrong with some people?

  141. How can an otherwise intelligent, obviously literate, American have absolutely no knowledge of such a venerable and culturally important institution such as The New Yorker?
    I blame the schools.

  142. I also know that those smears are believed by a surprisingly large segment of the population. That’s my problem here.

    Then you should look at the polls of how many people believe in Angels, bigfoot, and UFOs,….then realize that these people vote, get over it and move on.

  143. I also blame them for my grammatical slips.

  144. 1. A reasonably well informed person would not have any way to know that the cartoon was satire.

    Unless they are aware of the political leanings of the Magazine in question, a reasonably well informed person would have absolutely no clue that this was satire.

    In fact this was proven above when people said that it HAD to be satire — cuz it was on the cover of the New Yorker.

  145. My point remains that if all the things you have acknowledged are true, there are no grounds for criticizing the New Yorker

    Yes, there are.

    1. The cartoon sucked.

    2. Normalizing such imagery, putting it out there as something decent people may do, encourages low-lifes to do the same.

    It is not possible for the cartoon to be insufficiently clear if you and I can understand it. Iowan and ChicagoTom, just to name two, disagree.

  146. But they’re from teh midwest, joe. Why bother?

  147. joshua corning,

    Believing in angels, BigFoot, and UFOs doesn’t hurt anybody.

    Racism bothers me more than those other things.

  148. Then you should look at the polls of how many people believe in Angels, bigfoot, and UFOs

    Uh, dude, you do realize Bigfoot is an angel and angels travel in UFOs, right?

  149. What if you only believe in white angels?

  150. It is not possible for the cartoon to be insufficiently clear if you and I can understand it.

    And I thought it was the liberals who are supposed to be the elitists? Talk about the height of arrogance.

    Just so we are clear here…other than being on the cover of the New Yorker — what made it plainly obvious that it was satire?

    Cuz I haven’t seen any other reasons offered up?

  151. “Uh, dude, you do realize Bigfoot is an angel and angels travel in UFOs, right?”

    Bigfoot is just another brown dude being kept down by the man.

  152. Tom, I didn’t insult you, so lighten up. I just explained what the magazine was all about.

  153. How can an otherwise intelligent, obviously literate, American have absolutely no knowledge of such a venerable and culturally important institution such as The New Yorker?
    I blame the schools.

    I think I am a product of bad parenting. You see instead of giving me subscriptions to the New Yorker, I was instead given an order to go get a job and earn my keep. I think that qualifies as child abuse.

  154. Goddamn, people, take a walk or something.

  155. “Just so we are clear here…other than being on the cover of the New Yorker — what made it plainly obvious that it was satire?”

    If it is not obvious satire, then name me one person who thinks that the person who drew it thinks that the Obamas are flag burning terrorists? When you saw it, honestly did you think for even a second, “my God the racists have taken over the New Yorker”? Was there ever a trace of doubt in your mind what the cartoon was saying? There sure wasn’t in my mind.

  156. 2. Normalizing such imagery, putting it out there as something decent people may do, encourages low-lifes to do the same.

    Then you are admitting that my criticism of you is true.

    You are admitting that you find it acceptable to punish someone for using an image in a satirical way, because it might encourage COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PEOPLE to use that image in a literal way.

    That means that, to you, the actual meaning and actual content of the cartoon aren’t relevant. You feel free to completely ignore the actual meaning and the actual content of the cartoon because of the potential meaning of some other image you’ve made up in your head that might be used by a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON.

    There’s joe’s concept of justice for you, everyone. Nice. Real nice.

  157. Brrrrrrrrr!
    I’m going to go home and read some Seymour Hersh to my babies to make sure the same doesn’t happen to them.

  158. Normalizing such imagery, putting it out there as something decent people may do, encourages low-lifes to do the same.

    So anything that might be mistaken by anyone ever should never be printed?

  159. Tom, I didn’t insult you, so lighten up. I just explained what the magazine was all about.

    Ahem — maybe my sarcasm detector is out of whack, but if you weren’t being sarcastic then this is insulting:

    First of all, I’m surprised that you have no idea what The New Yorker is about, because it’s the epitome of the monocled, top-hat-wearing, opera-and-dinner-at-the-Guggenheim-function stereotype.

    if you were being sarcastic than I happily apologize for throwing you in with the likes of Fluffy.

  160. Everyone does realize this whole New Yorker controversy will have exactly zero impact on the typical swing voter in Rustville, Michigan? Right?

  161. I think a good comparison might be (although it wouldn’t really work, because so few magazines go for covers without many/any headlines etc) if National Review ran a cover with Cheney as Emperor Palpatine, or (in the opposite direction) if Reason ran one of Bush with angel wings and a halo shaped like a cowboy hat handing democracy to some Arab. Everyone would get it.

  162. if you were being sarcastic than I happily apologize for throwing you in with the likes of Fluffy.

    I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was just surprised because it’s such a symbol of the stereotype I described.

    I do realize that having lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan may skew my view a bit.

  163. Well, I know a lot of blue-collar workers with subscriptions to the New Yorker. They never read the thing, they just look at the cover and form their opinions off of it. [citation needed]

  164. Unless they are aware of the political leanings of the Magazine in question, a reasonably well informed person would have absolutely no clue that this was satire.

    No reasonably well informed person wouldn’t know that, so your objection has no merit.

    And even if the magazine wasn’t sufficiently well known that it makes it incumbent on the reader to be informed, the context of the cartoon would still matter.

    It’s not like Lew Rockwell is a household name, but if he put up a cartoon of Ron Paul waving a Confederate flag and carrying a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and strangling Rosa Parks, I would not think that Lew was trying to mock Paul. I would think that Lew was trying to mock the distorted image of Paul propagated in the media by his political opponents. And it wouldn’t be necessary for there to be anything IN THE CARTOON about it. The context would be sufficient. And it would be incumbent on ME to deduce the meaning from the context.

    So, fine. You’ve never heard of the New Yorker before. That’s not the cartoonist’s problem or concern, and has absolutely no impact on the cartoon’s meaning or intent.

  165. If it is not obvious satire, then name me one person who thinks that the person who drew it thinks that the Obamas are flag burning terrorists? When you saw it, honestly did you think for even a second, “my God the racists have taken over the New Yorker”? Was there ever a trace of doubt in your mind what the cartoon was saying? There sure wasn’t in my mind.

    John, read my earlier post on the matter…

    When I first saw it, it was only after I had read commentary about it — so I knew the context alread.

    But if I hadn’t seen anything but the cover — unless I was familiar with the New Yorker already — I would thought it was a shot at the Obamas.

    If that cover had been on the National Review or even on the front page of the NY Post, would it obviously be satire as well? Or would it be legitimate to think that there might be racists at the NR and the NYP ?

    If someone needs to have intimate knowledge of your publication in order to get the message, then I think the message failed

  166. Fluffy,

    Bad example. Nobody knows who the hell Lew Rockwell is. Joe Lunchpail probably would think it was some cartoonist with a grudge.

  167. if Reason ran one of Bush with angel wings and a halo shaped like a cowboy hat handing democracy to some Arab. Everyone would get it.

    And if National Review ran the same cartoon without alteration, they might mean it literally. But that would be irrelevant to the Reason cartoon.

    In fact, it would make the Reason cartoon even more apt.

    It would be precisely because the people at the Corner would accept the message literally that the image would be appropriate as satire.

  168. “If someone needs to have intimate knowledge of your publication in order to get the message, then I think the message failed”

    Yes the messsage failed and it was a stupid cartoon. I will give you that.

  169. Fluffy’s point (I think) is that if someone doesn’t know enough about Paul or Rockwell to get that it’s satire, then fuck them, that’s their problem.

  170. No reasonably well informed person wouldn’t know that, so your objection has no merit.

    Fluffy, your whole argument has no merit.

    I mean if we are gonna start from the position that everyone SHOULD KNOW the political leanings of some obscure magazine, then talking to you is a waste of time.

    You cannot seriously be saying that in order to be reasonably well informed you should know the politcal leanings of the New Yorker.

    The New Yorker is not like Time Magazine or Sports Illustrated. It is not something that most people would be aware of by osmosis because they advertise it so much. And even if you are aware of its existence, why would someone who isn’t a regular reader have any assumptions about its politics?

    So, fine. You’ve never heard of the New Yorker before. That’s not the cartoonist’s problem or concern, and has absolutely no impact on the cartoon’s meaning or intent.

    Actually it is the cartoonists and the editor’s concern. Perception is important.

    Unless you think that magazines don’t care if people outside of their subscriber base dont give a fuck about how they are perceived by others (one assumes they would want to to try and get them to be subscribers, no?)

  171. Bad example. Nobody knows who the hell Lew Rockwell is. Joe Lunchpail probably would think it was some cartoonist with a grudge.

    Would Joe Lunchpail be right, or wrong?

    Once you pointed out the context to Joe Lunchpail, told him who Lew was, gave him the rundown on the whole history, if he still INSISTED that the cartoon was offensive – would he be right, or would he just be a stubborn dickhead?

    If after that conversation, Joe Lunchpail proceeded to walk around for days, telling people about the “offensive” cartoon and trying to use its existence to get sympathy for Paul as part of a game of campaign spin, would his conduct be appropriate? Or would it make him dishonest?

  172. Point taken, Fluffy. But overall that sort of gamesmanship just seems silly to me.

  173. Yes the messsage failed and it was a stupid cartoon. I will give you that.

    John that was my point entirely. It was a stupid cartoon with a failed message that left them open to criticism.

    I think the reaction has been a bit overblown but it is valid to question their decision making ability of whoever decides what goes on their cover.

    If it were *MY* magazine, I would fire whoever decided to print that cover because of the poor judgment and the bad PR.

  174. Racism bothers me more than those other things.

    I thought in order for something to be racist it had to be able to exert power. The only power weirdos in basements have that I can see is the power to make you and left leaning MSM go into conniption fits.

    I think you are conflating Racism with bigotry.

  175. You cannot seriously be saying that in order to be reasonably well informed you should know the politcal leanings of the New Yorker.

    We’re not going to agree on this and there’s no real way to even discuss it without being insulting.

    Two hours ago I would not have thought that there was anyone posting here who would not know that information just by, as you say, osmosis. It’s not like these are the American Idol message boards or something.

    Actually it is the cartoonists and the editor’s concern. Perception is important.

    Unless you think that magazines don’t care if people outside of their subscriber base dont give a fuck about how they are perceived by others

    We’re not talking about the magazine’s marketing campaign, so no – perception is NOT important. We’re discussing whether the cartoon was offensive, whether it was intended to lampoon Obama or his opponents, and whether it’s disingenous for the Obama campaign to act as if the cartoon was a racial attack on the Obamas. That means that perception is irrelevant and all that matters is the cartoon’s actual meaning, actual context, and actual intent. Unless you want to be like joe and declare that you can blame someone for the messages and images others might create, even when the content and intent of those messages and images is the exact opposite of yours.

  176. Fluffy’s point (I think) is that if someone doesn’t know enough about Paul or Rockwell to get that it’s satire, then fuck them, that’s their problem.

    And my point is that if someone is trying to be satirical and they fail miserably and don’t make it obvious, don’t blame the people who “don’t get it” and call them rubes. Blame the people who don’t know how to properly do satire.

    Good Satire, like all good comedy shouldn’t have to be explained, nor should one need some type of insight into the mind or beliefs of the satirizor (is that a word?)

  177. Fluffy’s point (I think) is that if someone doesn’t know enough about Paul or Rockwell to get that it’s satire, then fuck them, that’s their problem.

    To be precise, my point is that the fact that you don’t know who Rockwell is doesn’t change the actual meaning of the cartoon in that context.

    Your lack of knowledge doesn’t somehow reach inside Lew Rockwell’s brain and make him hate Ron Paul. It doesn’t reach inside the brains of all of Rockwell’s regular readers who DID get the joke and make them not get it. All your lack of knowledge does it leave you outside, and make you wrong. And that’s OK, until you start trying to use the existence of the cartoon to lead a campaign against Rockwell as an unfair Ron Paul hater. Then you’re either someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about and is embarrassing themselves, or you’re someone who knows that you’re lying for some kind of political gain.

  178. We’re not going to agree on this and there’s no real way to even discuss it without being insulting.

    There is nothing to agree on. You already insulted me, repeatedly, and have told me that I am a liar or dumb because I am not aware of the same magazines and their political beliefs as you.

    You have exposed yourself as an arrogant and elitist dick.

    We’re discussing whether the cartoon was offensive, whether it was intended to lampoon Obama or his opponents, and whether it’s disingenous for the Obama campaign to act as if the cartoon was a racial attack on the Obamas.

    No we aren’t. We are talking about whether a reasonable person could reasonably interpret the cover as offensive/racist or an attack on the Obamas.

    That means that perception is quite important. In fact, perception is EVERYTHING.

    Like I said earlier, knowing what I know now, I don’t think that the cartoon is meant to be racist or offensive. But the execution, NOT THE intent, was offensive (to fans of satire at the very least) and could reasonably be perceived as racist/offensive to someone who is walking by a newsstand and sees the cover.

    To me the true test is: If this ran on some other obscure magazine that you don’t know its political leanings, what message could one infer just by looking at it’s cover??

    It is not unreasonable to think even though I get what they were trying to do now that it has been explained, without that explanation and without me ever having read the New Yorker, I would think this was an attack on the Obamas.

  179. Actually, now that I think about it some more, I have been being sort of a dick about the whole “Should you know what the New Yorker is automatically” question.

    I grew up in NY, and the magazine was always in the house when I was a kid, and it is possible that I am mistaken about how immediately obvious the magazine’s nature should be to an “informed” person. And because of that I am disparaging people like ChicagoTom who are smart guys and don’t deserve it.

    And I am also doing exactly what Iowan thought I was doing – slighting people out biases that arise from my own geographic history.

    And it actually hurt my position in the discussion, because it shifted the focus of the debate to what people “should have known”, when in fact that’s not important. That places the focus of the discussion on “perception”, even though I am arguing that perception doesn’t matter.

    So I’ll retract my previous statements, and say that I can definitely see that the New Yorker is a niche interest and basically a foible or indulgence of a particular type of affected east coast person, and it’s perfectly reasonable to not know where they’re coming from. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Obama campaign knows where they were coming from, and is wilfully pretending that they don’t. And that’s pretty shitty. I may be a geographically biased asshole, but at least I try to be honest, and the Obama campaign is not trying to be honest.

  180. without that explanation and without me ever having read the New Yorker, I would think this was an attack on the Obamas.

    But you would be wrong.

    You might say that it would be reasonable for you to make a mistake, but it would still be a mistake.

    If it wasn’t an attack on the Obamas, and as you say you realize now that it was not an attack on the Obamas, then when you thought it was an attack on the Obamas you were wrong.

    And if you were to continue to portray it as an attack on the Obamas, even after you knew it wasn’t, you would be a liar.

    And there are people who are doing that.

  181. But you would be wrong.

    Sure I would be.

    But I would be justified in being wrong based on the information presented. In and of itself, the cover is offensive. It’s only not offensive after it gets explained. Then the cover becomes merely poor judgment and poor execution of satire.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that the Obama campaign knows where they were coming from, and is wilfully pretending that they don’t.

    The campaign may know where the New Yorker is coming from, but wouldn’t it be fair to think that the campaign believes that voters might not know where the New Yorker is coming from and may get the wrong impression — especially low information voters or those who only tangentially follow politics? I don’t begrudge them for pushing back and responding. If they didn’t respond to it, I would think something was wrong with the campaign.

    Essentially, I don’t think the cover hurts Obama — it hurts the New Yorker. But I don’t fault campaigns for chiding publications that publish stuff that can easily be interpreted as offensive and for criticizing stuff that can be perceived as low-brow.

    I mean even the McCain campaign attacked the cover and called it inappropriate. I assume they did that because they want to be perceived as being against this low-brow stuff as well.

  182. Fluffy the Hysterical,

    You are admitting that you find it acceptable to punish someone for using an image in a satirical way, because it might encourage COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PEOPLE to use that image in a literal way. To ADMIT something, I would have to be somehow unhappy about saying it, or wish to hide it. I don’t ADMIT anything. I openly, proudly, without the slightest hesitation, say that I don’t like this cartoon, because it’s going to give lowlifes an excuse.

    That means that, to you, the actual meaning and actual content of the cartoon aren’t relevant. You feel free to completely ignore the actual meaning and the actual content of the cartoon

    There is a difference between authorial intent and “actual meaning.” People often misspeak or leave the wrong impression or screw up, and convey something they didn’t mean. This extends all the way from RC’s Law about typos to this cartoon. The cartoonist intended this cartoon to have one “actual meaning,” but because the cartoon sucked, it had a different one.

    because of the potential meaning of some other image you’ve made up in your head I didn’t make up anything. The Obamas-as-anti-American-terrorists/Muslim smear is quite well known, you know. Well-known enough for the illustrator to try, and fail, to produce a satire about it.

    Episiarch,

    So anything that might be mistaken by anyone ever should never be printed? Isn’t it amazing what you can do with words like “anyone,” “ever,” and “never?”

    I think people, especially those who have highly visible soap boxes, should have enough of a clue about, you know, not trading in racial stereotypes that they make fine targets for rotten vegetables when they screw up like this.

  183. John,

    If it is not obvious satire, then name me one person who thinks that the person who drew it thinks that the Obamas are flag burning terrorists?

    It’s obvious satire. It’s not obvious that it is satire of the sloped-headed troglodytes who send out the HUSSEIN emails. It’s quite easy to read that cartoon as being satire of the Obamas themselves – satire about their being radical blah blah blah. That is, as per my first comment, that portraying Barack in a keffiyeh and Michelle with a flag in the fireplace is supposed to be an exaggerated satire of them.

  184. Not just an arrogant, elitist dick: one with a middle-school understanding of the relationship between meaning and intent, who presumes to think of himself as intellectually enlightened and wise in the ways of media, because of where he was born.

  185. Two hours ago I would not have thought that there was anyone posting here who would not know that information just by, as you say, osmosis. It’s not like these are the American Idol message boards or something.

    So, two hours ago, when you asserted that there couldn’t possibly be any objection to the racial caricatures in the cartoon because everybody would obviously understand that author’s intent, so there was no way this cover could actually be read as being about the Obamas rather than about the troglodytes, you were completely talking out of your insular, provincial ass.

  186. In and of itself, the cover is offensive. It’s only not offensive after it gets explained.

    This is so wrong that this is offensive.

    The thing-in-itself includes its explanation. It can’t be offensive because you don’t understand it. The thing-in-itself is not offensive, and a person a state of error or lack of knowledge might mistake it for something offensive.

    To say otherwise elevates the person who is wrong and who lacks knowledge into the position of moral arbiter. And that can’t be correct. The moral stature of the cartoonist and the moral status of the cartoon is what it is, and you can either know it, or not. And if you don’t know it, the fact that you don’t know it doesn’t change the moral stature of the cartoonist or the moral status of the cartoon one iota.

    We are now dealing with the cartoon version of “the appearance of impropriety”, and this is an object lesson in exactly how corrupt a concept that is. The cartoon doesn’t become morally blameworthy because you don’t know enough about the New Yorker to place it in its context; there is either impropriety, or there is not impropriety, and the “appearance” means nothing at all.

    There is a difference between authorial intent and “actual meaning.” People often misspeak or leave the wrong impression or screw up, and convey something they didn’t mean.

    Perhaps. Except the cartoonist in this case did none of those things. I got the joke as soon as I saw it. It needed no explanation. No one had to correct themselves or say they misspoke.

    There are people in the world who find the word “niggardly” offensive. That is not because someone who uses that word “misspeaks”. The word has an actual meaning. It might take effort for some people unfamiliar with the word to deduce that actual meaning, but that doesn’t matter relative to whether we should praise or blame the speaker.

    I openly, proudly, without the slightest hesitation, say that I don’t like this cartoon, because it’s going to give lowlifes an excuse.

    This would mean that if you were to, for example, appear in a play portraying a burglary, I should be allowed to throw you in jail because someone else seeing that play might think that burglary was now “normalized” and they should create actual burglary.

    The meaning of the cartoon can be known.

    If the meaning of the cartoon is not racist, then the cartoonist cannot be blamed for promoting racism. Period.

    If some other person sees the cartoon and says, “Hey, great! It is now ‘normalized’ to portray Obama as Sambo, so I can publish my magnum opus of Obama Sambo cartoons!” the moral blame for that racist act will belong entirely, 100%, with the person who publishes the Sambo cartoons. And not even 1 billionth of 1 percent will reside with the New Yorker cartoonist.

    Rush Limbaugh does some pretty egregious stuff with his song “Barack the Magic Negro”. But that does not mean that the person who first wrote about the “Magic Negro” as a concept in film criticism did anything offensive or blameworthy. The person who wrote that was free to write it and morally under no obligation to give even a moment’s consideration to what some asshole might do with what he was writing. One is morally responsible for the meaning of one’s own content and nothing else. Someone else perverts it? That’s their issue. Not yours.

  187. So, two hours ago, when you asserted that there couldn’t possibly be any objection to the racial caricatures in the cartoon because everybody would obviously understand that author’s intent, so there was no way this cover could actually be read as being about the Obamas rather than about the troglodytes, you were completely talking out of your insular, provincial ass.

    It’s still not possible to read the cartoon as being about the Obamas and be correct.

    It’s possible to read the cartoon as being about the Obamas if you know nothing about the New Yorker. You’d be completely wrong, and you would be in that state of error based on your own lack of knowledge, but I am grudgingly conceding that not knowing about the New Yorker is possible for a reasonably informed person.

    I’m conceding that precisely because I decided it was unfair to evaluate someone as “informed” or “uninformed” based on what may be a regional or class interest. I always realized that the issue was a distraction, because it placed the discussion in the wrong place.

    It is not necessary for me to argue that it is an unreasonable error, or one that reflects on someone’s general level of cultural awareness, to argue that it’s an error. It’s still an error even if you have to be an expert in media to know it’s an error.

    And I have no doubt that you know all about the New Yorker, knew before this incident, and never were in a state where you lacked enough knowledge to understand the cartoon. So it’s not relevant to your dissembling on this matter either. So there was really no point to my continuing to argue a bad point.

  188. one with a middle-school understanding of the relationship between meaning and intent,

    And your community-college postmodernist blathering on this topic is really tiresome.

    Funny how meaning is so easy to deduce, except when the Obama campaign wants to be disingenuous to try to gain political advantage.

    Is this a preview of coming attractions? Can I expect you to suddenly lack the ability to discern meanings in everything, whenever doing so will enable you to claim that Obama has been slandered? Will this become the Democrat equivalent of saying, “Evolution is only a theory!” or any of the other “situational positivisms” engaged in by the Christianists?

    Something tells me it will be.

  189. I think we all realize that if the Obama campaign had laughed off the cover, joe would have said “look at that great sense of humor Obama has” and would then have proceeded to admit to finding it funny himself.

    Now Fluffy, you do realize that you fucked up by a) being a dick, but then b) by admitting your wrongdoing, because now joe can focus on your provincial elitism instead of responding to your argument.

  190. Now Fluffy, you do realize that you fucked up by a) being a dick, but then b) by admitting your wrongdoing, because now joe can focus on your provincial elitism instead of responding to your argument.

    Yeah, there’s a tradeoff.

  191. The word has an actual meaning.

    A cartoon does not have an inherent meaning the way a word does. There is no one-to-one relationship between something as complicated as a cartoon and a meaning; heck, there usually isn’t a one-to-one relationship between a word and its meaning, as words often have multiple meanings and shades of meaning. Something like a cartoon or a book have much more complicated meanings, that need to be puzzled out.

    This would mean that if you were to, for example, appear in a play portraying a burglary, I should be allowed to throw you in jail because someone else seeing that play might think that burglary was now “normalized” and they should create actual burglary Certainly not. Who’s being thrown in jail over this? I said I don’t like the cartoon. It’s like somebody saying they don’t like a movie because its portrayal of a burglary made it look normal; or more precisely, they don’t like a particular anti-burglary movie, because they way they depicted the burglary failed to make their point, and in fact, made burglaries look glamorous.

    If some other person sees the cartoon and says, “Hey, great! It is now ‘normalized’ to portray Obama as Sambo, so I can publish my magnum opus of Obama Sambo cartoons!” the moral blame for that racist act will belong entirely, 100%, with the person who publishes the Sambo cartoons. And not even 1 billionth of 1 percent will reside with the New Yorker cartoonist. You still don’t understand that intention and meaning are two different things, and yet you’ve spent the entire thread proclaiming yourself to be arbiter of all things literary. That’s funny.

    It’s still not possible to read the cartoon as being about the Obamas and be correct. Yes, it is. Authorial intention is not the final arbiter of meaning. Meaning is established via a dialogue between the reader/viewer and the text/object. There may be better or worse readings and readings that are more or less informed by knowledge of the author’s intention, but if he fails to convey his intention to his audience, he has failed. Perhaps not a moral failing, but an artistic one, but artistic failures can have consequences, too.

    And I have no doubt that you know all about the New Yorker, knew before this incident, and never were in a state where you lacked enough knowledge to understand the cartoon. So it’s not relevant to your dissembling on this matter either I have never dissembled on this point. I have never stated that I misunderstood the author’s intention. I’ve made actual arguments instead, and you are free to man up and address them any time you feel like it.

  192. And your community-college postmodernist blathering on this topic is really tiresome.

    Discourses on subjects you don’t understand very well do tend to be boring, but that does not make the lecturer incorrect.

    MIchael Richards wanted his audience to get one meaning from his “Look, a nigger!” rant, but they got a different one. They got a different one, because Richards screwed up. His intention are irrelevant to the question of the meaning of his words; the text speaks for itself.

  193. now joe can focus on your provincial elitism instead of responding to your argument.

    Ooops. Did somebody say something about ignoring arguments and focusing on personality?

    There is very little that is more ironic than you, Episiarch, accusing me, joe, of abjuring meaningful argument in favor of personal attacks.

  194. Oh, I was referring to your battle with Fluffy. I do it too.

    Now I’m off to practice my serve and then swim in the pool, because I am an elitist dickhead. Ciao.

  195. And I was referring to your assertion that I was going to ignore the argument and just attack Fluffy personally, as he did me, which you posted while I was writing two lengthy comments addressing Fluffy’s argument.

    Now I’m off to sit on my front porch and drink, because I am a “working class Irish Masshole.”

  196. Authorial intention is not the final arbiter of meaning. Meaning is established via a dialogue between the reader/viewer and the text/object.

    That’s crap. And it’s typical leftist crap.

    How about this? I’ll have a “dialogue” with the Constitution as its reader and we’ll mutually establish that it means that I can torture you to death and the government has to pay me a million dollars to do that.

    Textualism of that kind was invented by people who actively wanted to lie about the meaning of the texts they were interpreting, to accomplish political goals.

    There may be better or worse readings and readings that are more or less informed by knowledge of the author’s intention, but if he fails to convey his intention to his audience, he has failed.

    This also is crap, and this discussion is a pretty good example of why it’s crap: because it elevates disingenuousness into an argumentative method. If you can just be stupid enough, you can use the results of your stupidity to attack your opponents as culturally insensitive. To try to gain sympathy or pity, or to seize the initiative. No sale.

    Certainly not. Who’s being thrown in jail over this?

    We’re talking about the assignment of moral blame.

    they don’t like a particular anti-burglary movie, because they way they depicted the burglary failed to make their point, and in fact, made burglaries look glamorous.

    That would not give them the license to say that the film was pro-burglary. Nor would it give them the license to say that the film “caused” burglaries.

    It also wouldn’t give them license to say that the filmmaker was a burglar. Or to feign ignorance when someone pointed out that the film was anti-burglary. “Huh? Wha? There’s no way for anyone to know that.”

    You still don’t understand that intention and meaning are two different things

    There are extreme cases where it can be the author’s error if the meaning is unclear – situations where the author doesn’t understand the material he is working with, or the language he is using, well enough. But situations where the lack of clarity of meaning is based on the reader’s lack of knowledge don’t count, and using cases of the former as a blanket excuse for the latter is morally obtuse. Again, this is based on a not-too-well-hidden desire to elevate absurd or disingenuous misreadings to the status of moral arbiter, as a tactic of argument more than anything else.

  197. Yes, yes, if you call it “leftist,” it must be wrong. And also, I am teh partisan.

    Arguments’ truthfulness does not depend on how politically convenient you find them.

    We’re talking about the assignment of moral blame. I’m not. I’ve never been. Maybe that’s your problem; you got it in your head that you needed to defend the honor of this shmuck cartoonist, and decided that doing so required that you argue that there is no way anyone could possibly fail to understand his intent.

    I haven’t been talking about moral blame at all. I’ve been talking about the likely understanding of the work by those who view it.

    That would not give them the license to say that the film was pro-burglary. Yes, it would. The film is what it is. A film that leaves the audience thinking that burglary is kewl is a pro-burglary film, regardless of the auteur’s intent.

    Look, we don’t even need to go that far. Let’s pretend it’s 1878, and the REAL MEANING of a work is solely determined by what its author intended; this cartoon failed, because it is too easy to misinterpret it. You told me hours ago that it isn’t possible for a literate person to misinterpret it by failing to understand that its apparent subject is not actually its subject. EVERYBODY knows the New Yorkers’ politics; EVERYBODY KNOWS that smears about the Obama’s being scary terroristy moolims what hate ‘Murica are absurd. Well, no, neither of those statements are true. There is nothing in the cover to suggest that there is an invisible referent.

    BTW, Jesse Walker has written some great stuff about authorial intent. If you think you can stomach another “leftist” spewing “bullshit” in order to “lie about the meaning of the text,” then look up the stuff he’s written about Horkheimer and Adorno’s “Culture as Mass Deception.”

  198. A film that leaves the audience thinking that burglary is kewl is a pro-burglary film, regardless of the auteur’s intent.

    Joe, this is idiotic.

    If I make a film that dwells on the horrific effects of a burglary on the life of the victim, that film will be perceived as “kewl” by the audience if I show it to an audience of psychopaths and sadists.

    The author of a work cannot be held responsible for the moral failure or intellectual vacuity of his audience, or of a particular subset of that audience.

    There is a very large group of American adolescents who consider Apocalypse Now to be a pro-war film. That is because they are morons. The namby-pamby cult of “inclusiveness” that seeks to make the meaning of a work a negotiation between the author and the reader would stamp absurdities of that kind with a seal of approval. I understand the basis of the argument very well; I just reject it, because stupid people don’t get to say what things mean.

    You told me hours ago that it isn’t possible for a literate person to misinterpret it by failing to understand that its apparent subject is not actually its subject. EVERYBODY knows the New Yorkers’ politics; EVERYBODY KNOWS that smears about the Obama’s being scary terroristy moolims what hate ‘Murica are absurd. Well, no, neither of those statements are true.

    That was a bad argument on my part.

    It does not matter what everybody does or doesn’t know.

    People with knowledge about those things will understand the cartoon. People without knowledge of those things won’t. Any argument that relies on the claim that the interpretation of the parties with more knowledge is not privileged is crap. I realize that you are attempting to apply a theory of meaning that holds, simultaneously, that “There may be better or worse readings and readings that are more or less informed by knowledge of the author’s intention” but also that there are no “correct” readings, and this is simply absurd. I do not treat that argument with intellectual charity, because I have no respect for it. If my “reading” of The Fountainhead is “This author really likes Communism,” that reading isn’t “less informed”; I’m just a dumbass whose reading is wrong. If someone reads Huckleberry Finn and thinks that the character of Jim is designed to disparage and demean black people, that person is a dumbass who is wrong.

    Do you even realize that if your argument is correct, then the cartoon can’t be criticized even if it was meant literally? That’s what is forgotten by those who employ postmodernist rhetoric. If there is no such thing as a correct meaning, then I can say that my “interpretation” of everything Obama has ever said is that he’s an anti-American pro-Muslim traitor, and my “interpretation” of everything Michelle has ever said is that she’s a black militant revolutionary.

    If there are no correct meanings, there is no point to communication of any kind, because any communication means whatever the hell I want it to mean at all times.

  199. From the AP:

    “You know, there are wonderful Muslim Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things,” the presidential candidate told CNN’s Larry King. “And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it’s not what America’s all about.”

    Sheesh. Obama really does have sandals of clay.

  200. OK, one more thing…threads like this are masturbatory…we all know it…some of us (like me) give it a quick couple of jerks and move on…others (like, oh, joe for instance) pound and pound and never quite reach orgasm…but they keep pounding…hoping…praying…pounding…I’m just happy I’m not around to see the conclusion. Here’s a towel. Clean up after yourselves, please.

  201. The New Yorker is like the best. troll. ever.

  202. Stop the presses.

    Not everybody gets an inside joke.

    boo

    fucking

    hoo

  203. I suppose if self-promotion is the name of the game then Obama and The New Yorker are both winners, after a fashion.

  204. The right-wing’s efforts to demonize the Obama’s as Islamist race terrorists is so pernicious and ubiquitous that the major scandal about it is a poor attempt at satire of it by a left leaning magazine?

    If anything, the mainstream right has been walking on eggshells about this and distancing themselves from anyone who wants to engage Obama in this way. It almost seems as if this little controversy were tailor made to create the notion that the McCain campaign is dealing in this kind of rhetoric when they are not

  205. Ok, I’m way late, but…

    I grew up in Iowa, rural Iowa at that, and I’ve never read The New Yorker from cover to cover. I’ve never lived on either coast. I’m not well-read in the liberal arts sense of the term, although I read about 100 books a year.

    Yet, I’d estimate I’ve read maybe 5 of their articles and seen about 100 of their cartoons over the years. So, I’m inclined to think that most well-read Americans have at least a passing familiarity with it. Of course a few, like ChicagoTom, do not. So, without this tempest in a teapot, how many people would have actually seen that cover and not understood it?

    Maybe it’s just a reflection of our respective attitudes about personal responsibility, but I just do not understand joe’s or ChigacoTom’s attitude about this. It’s a magazine for adult readers. If you aren’t familiar with it and you can’t be bothered to read it, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the meaning of a cover cartoon that might or might not be satire. Communication requires effort by both the sender and the receiver.

    Speaking of which, iowan, you should take that provincial chip off of your shoulder and work on your reading comprehension. Fluffy’s comments were well-written and perfectly clear.

    Fluffy, that was outstanding work.

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