Monday, March 26, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #195 (March 25th, 2007)

eBay: Dave Sim Cerebus Scripture readng bible dvd Judges

One of the letters which

Went astray was from Comics

Journal freelancer Jack Baney...

…and is dated February 5. I'm not sure if it's a dirty trick but he said he would prefer that I run his entire letter or none of it (which is exactly what I didn't want to read given that I'm trying to keep the Blog & Mail to a manageable size) however his lead section definitely fits the Sunday Edition (saving me the trouble of going "bobbing for Sunday Edition material") and he is a good writer as you'll see. He probably meant that he wanted it to run uninterrupted as well, but at that rate you'd barely remember what he was talking about when I got around to answering him later in the week. So, I'll be answering him within the body of the letter – not exactly 100% fair but, hey, it is my blog, right? Take it away, Jack:


I'm writing in response to your Jan. 27 blog entry (an excerpt from your forthcoming Collected Letters 2 volume), in which you refer briefly to your letter exchange with Allen Rubinstein and me in The Comics Journal from a few years ago.

I think you exaggerate when you accuse me of trying to destroy your reputation. After all, my actions consisted not of spreading false rumors about you but of writing a letter that disputed your statements about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and politics in general, asking you to run the letter in "Aardvark Comment," and – after you declined this request – following your own advice by sending the letter to The Comics Journal. It's true that in writing the letter and trying to get it published, I hoped to show readers of the Cerebus back pages that you didn't know what you were talking about when you wrote about politics and, by implication, that maybe your writing about some other topics was also off-base. So it's fair to say that I was trying to harm your reputation, to whatever extent it existed, as a source of reliable facts and well-considered opinions in your Cerebus back-pages essays. But if you're implying that I hoped to destroy your entire reputation – "good artist," "successful businessman," "supporter of other self-publishers," "non-child-molester," etc. – by writing a letter that disputed your statements about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and politics in general and having it published in "Aardvark Comment" or (at your own suggestion) The Comics Journal…well, there's no way I could have accomplished all of that with my letter, so positing it as my goal doesn't really make sense.

Also, I don't agree that your were "far more polite" to me than I was to you during our exchange. It's true that I described your insistence that the Palestinians should be called "Transjordanians" as "incredible stupidity," but this description referred to your opinion and not to you. I don't think that "incredible stupidity" as used in that context, was far less polite than your description of my letter as a "screed" and "cant" in The Comics Journal #253 or as "being of the hair-splitting `how many appartchiks can dance on the head of a pin' variety of leftist `debate'" in Cerebus #293. But in case you really thought that I was calling you and not your opinion stupid, I will state for the record that I think you are very intelligent.

Well, let me return the compliment and say that I think you are very intelligent as well. That is, you write intelligently and are able to sustain an argument over several paragraphs without repeating yourself or contradicting yourself (which, I'm sure you'll agree, is pretty rare in this day and age). Certainly when I got your letter in and I was reading it, the extreme leftist tone made me think that there really wasn't much point in running in Cerebus and I offered the suggestions of The Comics Journal as the only extreme leftist publication in the environment that would be interested. In suggesting that you were trying to destroy my reputation, in retrospect, I think that that was more a matter of timing and, also in retrospect, I think that was probably more of a Comics Journal "thing" than it was either a choice by you or by Mr. Rubinstein. Here's an analogy that should appeal to you: it was as if there was this core audience that had been attending a performance of Wagner's complete Ring Cycle for five nights running (or however long it takes to perform the complete Ring cycle) and with forty minutes to go on the fifth night, two guys stand up in the audience and declare "I think we need to discuss Wagner's place in the context of Nazi Germany" and then proceed to do so. Yes, it is probably a discussion worth having but, no, I don't think with forty minutes to go on the fifth night is the place to bring it up. But, again, I think that was probably a matter of The Comics Journal's idiosyncratic sense of appropriate timing – where the ONLY appropriate moment to discuss Wagner's alleged Nazi sympathies is with forty minutes to go on the fifth night of a performance of the Ring cycle. These are, after all, the same people who sat on Colleen Doran's allegations of sexual harassment by Julie Schwartz for YEARS and then finally chose to run them in the same issue as Julie Schwartz's obituary. Obviously, people so dead to basic human sensitivity are not about to decide that there's any more appropriate time to trash Dave Sim's opinions than with two humongous letters on the subject with a dozen issues to go in a 300-issue storyline.

I apologize to you and Allen Rubinstein for failing to recognize that fact at the time. You had both written to me earlier and, although it would be incorrect to say that the Journal sat on your letters for YEARS, there was a period of time between when I heard from you and when the letters were printed.

I do take issue with your politics but I think the fact that the opposing sides will always see their opposite number as spouting "cant" or advancing views of "incredible stupidity" as being something that's in-built with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My point is always that anyone with a lick of common sense would rather be a Palestinian prisoner in the Israeli court system than an Israeli prisoner in the Palestinian court system which (it seems to me) provides eloquent proof of the difference between a functioning democracy and a dysfunctional dictatorship. Whether you call the Palestinians Palestinians or Transjordanians or Latter Day Philistines I think the proof of what they actually are is very much there in the Middle East pudding. I think if the Israelis swerved between dangerous extremes of socialism and communism and totalitarianism and then back to democracy and every once in a while had a rabbi crop up who declared himself to be the Davidic Meschiach and for four years he was crowned King of the Jews until a member of a rival Orthodox faction assassinated him which caused Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to break down into street warfare between rival gangs shooting each other up with Uzis during high holidays, then I think you might have a case to make for co-equivalence and "a pox on both your houses".

But, Jack, there are very well-regarded Palestinians who are elected members of the Knesset. When a Prime Minister fails to hold a coalition together and loses a vote of confidence, an election is called which is certainly filled with mud-slinging and name-calling, but which is PEACEFUL and then if the succeeding government falls to a rival party that party takes over PEACEFULLY. Until the Palestinians or the Transjordanians or the Latter Day Philistines can manage the same thing for a period longer than a few weeks or a few months, I don't think their supporters, including yourself, have a leg to stand on.

But, I do accept that intelligent people can disagree vehemently on these very subjects and I disavow any intention on my part to confuse the timing of your letter's appearance in the Comics Journal with its content. As will be seen in one of the volumes of Collected Letters you and I did arrive – off-stage – at an agreement to agree to disagree. And that was what I saw in your letter when it first came in. We can go around and around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict circle – as so many have and as so many will continue to do – but we're just going to end up back in our entrenched positions. Until the opposing side agrees that Israel has the right to exist and agrees to abide by its previous agreements, there really isn't much left to say from my side of the fence. George W. Bush arrived at that conclusion pretty early in his administration in contemplating the 100% unreliability of Yasser Arafat to fulfill even one act to which he had committed the Palestinian "nation" and I don't see any change – and I don't think any person with common sense would see any change – in the subsequent Hamas/Fatah mutation. In fact they both explicitly refused to even address either condition – Israel's right to exist and their obligation to fulfill their previous agreements – at the recent Mecca Summit convened by Saudi President Abdullah.

To me, there's nothing left to say. That says it all.

Tomorrow: On to other subjects with the always-engaging Jack Baney

Oh, and this being the 25th:

"Feminists Get a Free Ride in Our Society".

Remember! You heard it first Right Here on

Today's Blog & Mail


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

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