Friday, March 30, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #199 (March 29th, 2007)






Jack Baney continues:

Sorry, but I just have to get this in – you told me that you don't believe my statistics about the death tolls in Central America because leftists claimed that 4,000 Palestinians were killed in Jenin but the UN says it was really 28. I think that if you look it up anywhere, you'll see that your own statistics are wrong: the UN report says that 52—not 28 – Palestinians were killed in Jenin while the Palestinian Authority – not American leftists – overestimated the death toll as 500 – not 4,000 – initially. The Israeli government overestimated the death toll as up to 200 initially but now agrees with the 52 figure.

Frankly, Jack, I think I'm safe in saying that these numbers got "massaged" radically on an on-going basis from the first eyewitness Palestinian accounts which were fed to gullible anti-Israeli Western reporters through the independent assessment of on-scene CSI style experts to UN bureaucrats with leftist axes to grind through the initial report to revised reports and so on. Since Israel has chosen to do what I recommended a while back: build a security fence which walls them off from the Palestinians or Transjordanians or Latter Day Philistines or whatever you want to call those mad dogs and left them to tear each other to shreds, I really think the point is becoming moot if it isn't completely moot already. If the PA agrees to live up to its previous agreements with Israel and acknowledges Israel's right to exist then there is something to discuss. Until they do, there's nothing to discuss.

At any rate, I'll admit that I should be reading and thinking more about these issues myself and that since I've reached such disturbing conclusions about my own government's policies, I should be working to change them and not just writing letter about them to conservative cartoonists. After all, I think we would agree that I live in the freest (and, I would say, greatest) country in the world, rather than one in which I'd be persecuted for taking political action.

I'd agree with that. And I would only add that I think you should be working on what you want to change your government's policies into. The Democrats are in desperate need of coherent ideas and alternatives that align well with your country's collective gut instinct of where you're going and how you want to get there. If more of you on the left were engaged in determining future courses of action instead of trying to figure out how to indict Dick Cheney for 9/11 I think you – and the United States – would be a lot further ahead of the game.

I know you're not going to like all of my comments in this letter, especially the ones in the two preceding paragraphs, and that you may want to respond to them harshly. That's okay with me – I won't complain if you call me a Godless-Marxist-feminist-homosexualist-emotion-ruled-woman-with-a-penis-slave-toYHWH. But I will say that if you decide to tear me down personally—as you deliberately refrained from doing in Allen's case, according to your blog entry—it might be more effective to say something along the lines of, "Jack, you're the kind of guy who writes political letters to comic-book magazines. You probably have less sexual experience than the average Amish teenager. And it's quite possible that you're even nerdier than one or two members of the Cerebus Yahoo Group."

See, I would never say anything like that to anyone. People have been tearing me down personally for the last decade or so but that's because they can't refute my arguments in open debate. If you're able to hold your own in open debate with those who oppose you – and I'll flatter myself that I have been able to on the rare occasions when someone is actually willing to discuss my ideas – there is absolutely no need to get bogged down in personal invective and character assassination. And given my current focus on strict morality for myself, even if I did engage in "tearing people down" the last thing I would do is bring up sexual experience. In fact, if you think about it, I'd obviously count a lack of sexual experience as a credential not a liability. You know of any happy womanizer stories? Does Hugh Hefner and his half-dozen girlfriends and bowl of Viagra look like a happy situation? Do you think that ends well? I think Jules Feiffer summed up womanizing -- to the point of having the Last Word -- with the Jack Nicholson character in Carnal Knowledge. There. That's what that is and that's where it leads. Can we discuss something useful now?

Speaking of which – your comments in the Jan. 27 blog entry made me think that maybe I should avoid both reading your blog and posting my own comments on the Internet. I read that entry shortly after I posted some comments about you on The Comics Journal's message board. What I wrote was generally respectful of you (the one exception was a lame joke I made about Noah Berlatsky winning a Pulitzer and rubbing it in your face while taunting you). But something about our comments appearing on the Internet at about the same time reinforced my sense that there's something unseemly about Internet discussions, especially when they involve people who are not taking part in those discussions.

I'd say it's all part and parcel of being a public figure in a day and age and in a context where pretty much everyone is a public figure in one sense or another. I think the Blog & Mail is gradually evolving into a kind of debate forum which (hopefully) bypasses some of the worst excesses of the Internet and the "unseemly" quality you refer to. I've seen very little of Internet discussion and what I have seen certainly hasn't enticed me to participate myself. At the same time I find this to be a reasonably pleasurable (or, perhaps, least painful) way of keeping up communication across the great political divide and to stick to the issues and not get bogged down in personalities and name-calling. And I get to run the Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast in front of everyone who tunes in on a daily basis. What could be better than that?

Okay, I guess that's it. Feel free to run this letter in your blog, in Following Cerebus or anyplace else you'd like, although I'd prefer that you run the whole thing or none of it at all. Thanks for telling me (in your last letter to me) that you look forward to my next piece of comics journalism, but I'm actually hoping to move beyond that kind of thing. I'd rather write some books and have you send open letters about my Marxist-Palestinian views to The New Yorker or something. Anyway, I look forward to seeing your future work. And I'd express the hope that you've recovered fully from the flu by now, but then I'd just be trying to "out-polite" you.

But wouldn't that be great? If we all just contended in the forum of ideas with ideas exclusively and on the personal side of things had an unspoken competition to always be trying to "out-polite" each other? Thanks for writing, Jack. I'll look forward to reading your first book.

Tomorrow: At Long Last Seiler!

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