AAEC conventions are marked by an atmosphere of warm collegiality. Cartoonists of all philosophical persuasions are welcome, and although the individual members are possessed of an array of strong political points of view, there is very little in the way of heated arguments at these events. There are no blood feuds, no screaming matches, and most surprisingly, no drunken punch-outs over politics.
That’s a good thing, I guess, but one might hope for a bit more conflict among a group of opinionated news junkies, if only for the entertainment value. We got a little taste of it, fortunately, at the Library of Congress with Thursday’s “An Inky and Pixel View of Campaign 2012.”
The panelists, aligned appropriately from left to right, were Ted Rall, Lalo Alcaraz, Steve Kelley, and Scott Stantis.
Ted, as you may know, is so far left that he thinks Barack Obama has a terrible singing voice. He also has some bee in his bonnet about secret torture and the deaths of innocent civilians caused by our glorious drone strikes. What planet is he from, I wonder?
Lalo (and his excellent hair) had some message or other about our common humanity and how brown people are just looking for the same things you and I are. I’m assuming you’re white here. Anyway, where does he get this stuff?
I found myself listening with rapt admiration as Steve, from the middle right, made a game defense of the concept of a Mitt Romney presidency. He may feel moved to tinker with his argumentation, however, given Mitt’s recent comments about the 47% (Steve, I advise you to double and even triple down).
Scott seemed to rest his philosophy on such old standbys as freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility, precepts which the predominantly lefty crowd found to be either charmingly naïve or simply laughable. And that whole love of country thing … c’mon, Scott.
Despite the free expression of these noxious views, attendees seemed to find the cartoonists engaging and even amusing, if that’s the right word. It occurred to this writer, in fact, that all the silliness about personal conviction and righteous outrage was some kind of big, fat, ironic put-on. We are talking about cartoons here, after all.
That sweet notion was exploded toward the end of the Q and A session. A class of middle school students was there, and one girl asked the panelists how they decided what they thought. Well, let me tell you that the guise of good-natured fun-poking fell away, sloughed off like the spent skin of some poisonous reptile, and they pounced almost as one on the poor, unsuspecting eighth grader.
Read, they barked at her. Don’t depend on anyone but yourself and your own sense of right and wrong to find your positions on public policy. Be skeptical, ask questions, make your own decisions, they hissed. The girl was led away sobbing.
I guess you could say it was a fun event (if you like using fun as an adjective). The presenters got the attention they so desperately crave, and the audience got to stare at a freak show. At one point, there even may have been a small advance in human understanding, but with all the laughing, it was quickly forgotten.