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Four Meaningful Cartoons

Entry 2079, on 2020-10-05 at 13:04:42 (Rating 4, Comments)

I sometimes think humour, satire, and cartoons hold more meaning than news, serious political commentary, and philosophy. Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't, but there is little doubt that these "more frivolous" forms of expression sometimes hold a deeper meaning than you might expect.

As you might have guessed, this introduction relates to some cartoons I have seen recently which I think make some good points. So what are these cartoons? Well I'm not going to include them here, so that I don't get into trouble with copyright, but here are is a description and analysis of them...

The first one shows Batman looking out of the window of his secret lair. He sees the bat signal and calls Alfred, saying "Alfred! Quick! Send out the Virtue Signal." In the next frame we see a signal projected onto the sky next to the bat signal, saying "Thoughts and prayers with Gotham tonight".

Whenever see that inane, nonsensical statement "thoughts and prayers", after some sort of traumatic event or disaster, there is often some pushback on it, but people still keep saying it anyway.

To be fair, some people genuinely think that is an appropriate response, and might not realistically be able to do much else. But others really are just "virtue signalling" (because most likely few of their thoughts or prayers are really about the event under discussion) while others, who might be able to do something practical but don't want to just say it to divert attention away from their lack of action.

If Batman responded to urgent cries for help by virtue signalling like that we might be horrified, or disgusted, or at least amused. Why do we often not feel the same way about real people who do this?

The second cartoon shows a black man holding up his hands saying "Stop! Don't shoot!" An aggressive looking cop replies "Nice try". He then shoots... in a game of basketball.

This one is particularly topical at the moment, given the "black lives matter" protests and riots going on around the world. I have already indicated my disdain for BLM in previous posts, so I won't go over it again now, but the cartoon shows how many people just assume any interaction between cops and black people inevitably involves harmful behaviour from the cop while the black person is innocent. That isn't the reality in most cases.

In the third cartoon we see a nervous looking employee enter his boss's office and saying "I was wondering if it might be a good time to ask for a raise?". The boss says "Sorry, Rick. As much as I'd like to give you a raise, it's not in the company's budget." He continues "Kindly see yourself to the door". The employee then walks over a vast pile of cash to get to the door.

While there are undoubtedly many situations where a company genuinely can't afford to pay its employees any more, there are also plenty when they can, and they might use similar excuses to this. Maybe a boss tells a poorly paid employee "Sorry, we can't afford to pay you any more", then gets into his Porsche and drives away.

Or maybe that excuse is offered followed by the managers' all getting salary increases, or the company hiring more bureaucrats, or buying a new building. It undoubtedly happens, although I do have to emphasise that there are also situations where there is a genuine inability to pay more.

But I see the "we have no spare money" excuse used so often disingenuously that I generally assume it is fake. It's not that the money to pay more isn't there, it's that the money exists but the managers would prefer to spend it elsewhere.

In the final cartoon a family is sitting around the dinner table. One character says grace, saying "Before we eat, I would like to first thank the Lord for providing us with this beautiful, nourishing harvest of food." But the next frame shows some angry farmers listening outside the windows, and one saying "We got snubbed again!"

Thanking god is so stupid. I mean, there is no good reason to think a god exists, so it's stupid from that perspective, but even if there was a deity it would still be stupid.

If we are going to attribute the outcome of events to a god's intervention, then we really need to look at every case. I have seen people thanking god for sparing their house from destruction in a forest fire, when many others around them were destroyed. But if we thank a god for a good outcome, should we not also blame him for the bad? I mean, what about those other people whose houses were destroyed (who probably just as deserving of God's help as anyone else). And who let the fire get out of control in the first place? Did God play no part in that?

And even when a good outcome does occur, it is usually either luck or the good work of other humans, like fire fighters in this case. This person thanked God instead of the fire fighters, just like the family in the cartoon thanked God instead of the farmers.

Sure, I know they say that "God helps those who help themselves", but does he? How would we know it's not just the people helping themselves with no assistance from God at all? That is part of the insidious harm of religion: it disguises a lot of the good work humans do while giving God a "free pass" and blaming humans for the bad.

Anyway, those are my four meaningful cartoons. I think they make some valuable comments on the realities of modern life, and they make their points in a very concise and entertaining way.

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