Why Punish Dilbert For His Creator’s Rant?

Ethics Alarms discussed the weirdly illogical, emotional and intentionally inflammatory reaction of cartoonist/pundit Scott Adams based on, of all things to freak-out over, a poll by Rasmussen that was even more unreliable than most polls, which is saying something. The fact that I assumed something like the resulting backlash would occur and that Adams should have expected it doesn’t make the reaction any less unethical.

Hundreds of newspapers have now stopped printing the popular workplace satire comic strip. The statements of the San Antonio Express-News, which is part of Hearst Newspapers, and the USA Today Network were typical. The Express-News said that it will drop the Dilbert comic strip “because of hateful and discriminatory public comments by its creator.” USA Today tweeted that it will stop publishing Dilbert “due to recent discriminatory comments by its creator.”

This is pure cancel culture, then, and by newspapers, which should know better, or think better, or something. What do Adams’ opinions, which are, you know, protected in a free country, have to do with his art? Today we shake our heads at learning that actress Ingrid Bergman’s films were boycotted and her career cratered because she got pregnant without being married first. Jerry Lee Lewis lost performing dates because he married his 13-year-old second cousin. Funny, that shouldn’t have made “Great Ball of Fire!” any less amazing. People burned Beatles records because John Lennon, streaming his consciousness as usual, said that the band was more popular than Jesus. Do opera companies ban Wagner’s operas because he was an anti-Semite?

I went over all of this in the Bill Cosby posts, notably this one, in which I wrote in conclusion,

It’s never too soon to learn that human beings are flawed, complex creatures, and that even the most brilliant and talented have dark sides, do terrible things, and can be cruel, selfish, dishonest and even criminal. We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes, or his slaveholding.


I might have added that artists and political leaders are seldom well-adjusted, placid and moderate individuals.

I shouldn’t have to appreciate Robert DeNiro’s vile anti-Trump diatribes to appreciate his work in “GoodFellas.” “The Cosby Show” is objectively funny and great TV; the fact that the actor playing Cliff Huxtable was a serial rapist should be irrelevant. How many times do we have to go over this? Frank Sinatra was mobbed up; Bing Crosby was a cruel father to his sons: so what? Their musical and dramatic performances aren’t changed by that. As for cartoons, who knows what’s going through the minds of Adams’ competitors? Why should we care?

If cognitive dissonance makes it difficult for some “Dilbert” fans to keep enjoying the strip, nobody’s making them read it. What the newspaper sare doing by going all-in for cancel culture is lending their power and influence to the current totalitarian push to ensure ideological compliance and homogeneity with progressive beliefs.  That’s “what’s going on here,” and it is far more harmful than whatever it is Adams’ was trying to convey.

Hate the creator if you must, but judge his or her creations on its own terms.

Why is that such a difficult concept?

9 thoughts on “Why Punish Dilbert For His Creator’s Rant?

  1. I am sorry to see Scott Adams cancelled for expressing an opinion that was NOT contained in his cartoons. He has criticized the Woke culture in a few of his cartoons, and I think he contributes to a healthy debate about where our culture is headed. I live in a predominately Black neighborhood in Los Angeles, and I have no desire to “get away from my Black neighbors.” Today the LA Times cancelled the Dilbert strip for making “racist comments,” yet every issue of that paper publishes articles showing racist bias. Example from today’s edition: The sponsor of Assembly Bill 1418 (opposing crime-free housing mandates) calls the policy “systemic racism” because it adversely effects brown and Black people. There is, of course, no mention in the article that brown and Black people are disproportionally criminal offenders. Another article laments that California engages in involuntary servitude of prisoners (protected by the U.S. 13th Amendment) which is falsely labeled as “systemic oppression” and “slavery” (a clear distinction in the 13th Amendment). We should call out racial bias wherever it raises its ugly head.

  2. “…that Adams should have expected it doesn’t make the reaction any less unethical.”

    He did expect it, predicted it and has been edging closer to his most recent to statements for months. And continuing to forecast how the trainwreck will roll.

  3. The current mantra among the leftists is that, “you can say what you want, but words have consequences.”

    They don’t quite say it the way Luca Brasi would say it, and they really are too cowardly to deal with true consequences (except maybe for the Antifa crowd, at least, they are shamelessly violent).

    But, I do not call it cancel culture, because I think it is much better to call out the behavior for what it is: blacklisting.

    Yes, people had every right to be members of the communist party, but associations “have consequences.” You don’t get to act in Hollywood; you are, well, blacklisted.

    As for people being flawed, if I have not addressed it here before, a great lesson from reading the Bible is that all of the greatest heroes of the Jews were flawed people.

    -Adam and Eve




    And more. Apart from Adam and Eve, the others are probably the Big Three.

    Then, Christianity came along and the model of behavior was God.

    Then, the Muslims came along and the model of perfection was a human who talked to God.

    Now, we expect humans to be as perfect as God, even though Jesus did not endorse that view.

    The Jews got it right.

    It should really be no surprise that the Left (more than the Right) shuns the Bible. They denigrate it as a violent work. That is the point. There is very much to be learned about human nature by reading it. They just don’t get that they are as awful as many of the people in there (or they don’t want to know).

    WARNING-BIBLICAL DIGRESSION: I found it very interesting that God repeatedly bargains on the lives of just people. Off the top of my head, he wiped out the earth except for Noah because the world was wicked; Lot bargained him down from 50 just men to 10 (?), but God still destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah; God bet on the single life of Job (well, the Devil was prohibited from killing him—just tormenting him). God even sacrificed all of the first born of the Egyptians. Only later did God show that the only proper sacrifice was to sacrifice HIS only son on Passover because that was the only sacrifice that was adequate.

    Because people are flawed. Only a divine sacrifice can fix them.

    Unfortunately, that requires an acknowledgment of the inherently flawed nature of people.

    And…the Left does not get how messed up they are. They expect perfection.

    They are delusional.


    • That’s a great comment, Jut. As far as I’m concerned, the Old Testament’s principal theme is: given any amount of time, humans and the society they inhabit will lose the plot and degenerate. Old Testament time isn’t linear, it’s circular. History isn’t arching in any direction, it just repeats itself.

      • That is funny.

        There is a point in the Old Testament where they are cleaning out the Temple and happen upon the Ten Commandments and think “wow, this is a really good set of rules.”

        I hold out hope that, someday, there will be some legislator or Senator who will recognize the wisdom of the Constitution that has Ling since been abandoned.


      • Lefties make the mistake of thinking people are perfectible and all that’s required is for more time to pass. They’re just wrong. As my college professor and good friend told me, “Not everyone grows up, Bill; they just get older.”

    • Far as I’m concerned, Jut, that’s a COTD. And well worth such designation.

      I’ve little doubt that Adams knew EXACTLY what he was doing here. And I’ve little doubt that he knew the likely consequences. He has long since made his nut from the strip; though his work with Dilbert remains funny and timely, I’d be surprised if the strip runs in a third as many papers as it once did. And that’s not a comment on the quality of the strip; it’s got more to do with the fact that back in the 1990s, the newspaper business failed to recognize what the Web really was, bought the same hype as the founders of https//www.kumquats-R-us.com, and sealed its own demise.

      They can’t afford real reporters anymore. Why should we think they can afford cartoonists?

      Scott Adams is the best kind of troll: the one who makes you think. If you follow his blog, you’ve known this for a while. He’s been pantsing groupthink since Dilbert started – I realized back in the 1990s that you could tell how healthy the culture of a company was by wandering through the drone rooms and seeing how many Dilbert cartoons were push-pinned to the walls of the cubicles. The more there were, the unhealthier the company.

      Just as Greenwald, Taibbi and other truth-seekers have moved to other – and in many cases, more lucrative – pastures by selling their work directly to people who are willing to pay for it… well, I don’t worry about Scott Adams.

      If he even needs the money.

      Which I doubt he does.

      • I wonder if Scott Adams was ready to move on. Larson quit “The Far Side.” “Calvin and Hobbes” was killed by its author. I respect people who know when to go fishin’. So few do.

        My favorite Dilbert, which describes the business plan of big law firms: First panel, the horned boss is berating an intern during the intern’s review. “You’re no good. You’re worse than useless.” Second panel, the intern’s eyes get big, and he says, “Dad?” Third panel, the boss squints his eyes and asks the kid, “Are there more of you at home?”

  4. Just a few weeks ago, my son and I were having a conversation about the ethics of continuing to enjoy the art, movie, or music of an entertainer who has displayed questionable ethics in their treatment of other people. Part of our discussion centered on whether the non-ethical behavior was being ‘flashed’ as a ‘joke’ during the entertainment. Remember those drug/date rape ‘jokes’ that Bill Cosby was making in his early comedy routines? We decided that if the entertainment itself didn’t glorify non-ethical behavior that we would continue to enjoy the art/music/show for its cultural or entertainment value.

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