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23 Comments

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm
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    At the very least, I’m happy this ends well. Making light of suicide is simply unnacceptable, it’s up there with making jokes about rape or murder. It just shows such disrespect for the families touched by the death of a loved one.

    • Ed Clarke
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm
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    “Key to the joys of this big collection is the characters. These cartoon-people feel real, and countless readers have reported seeing in them some wayward acquaintance, challenging family member or long-forgotten college classmate… Though spirited in its comic dissection of the left’s foibles, the series manages to garner many liberal readers simply by virtue of the comedic realism of its personalities.”

    Yes, I can really see that effect at work here with the Devon Suicide Contest. Gleefully fantasizing about the grisly, horrifying death of your strawman for people whose worldview doesn’t match your own must be winning hearts and minds left and right. Does it really not occur to you how hysterical you are making yourself look? You might at very least kick the intellectual honesty up a few notches and stop pretending that Diversity Lane is meant for anybody but the most insular conservatives.

    • Steve
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm
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    Hi Ed –
    Have you read the character descriptions at Diversity Lane ?
    To what degree have you read and seen the history of Zack’s cartoons, from 2008 ?
    Your thoughts remind me that there is a huge amount of truth in the expression ‘ liberals are humorless’.

    Your presumptuous psychoanalysis is also somewhat predictable… it is a technique, one of several tried & tested, by your “progressive” culture to squelch & limit speech.
    What is the point of engaging in a contest of idea’s with those you neither agree with, or understand, when it is easier to call them ” hysterical”, and “insular” ??

    Now that you have revealed what Neanderthal world we are from…
    What sort of ‘un-insular’ world of Solomon’s wisdom, do you hail from ?

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm
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    Steve, can you explain your comment better? I think I’m having a lot of trouble understanding it.

    i mean, you begin by calling liberals humorless. Then, you say that his analysis of the contest is a way to limit and stop your free speech, but without actually addressing his point. Then you finish by trying to make it seem as if he insulted you, called you stupid, and seem to imply that there is no such thing as non-insular worldviews.

    Am I misunderstanding your post completely? I don’t see you address his points at all, just claim that Liberals are humorless, try to stop free speech and call you stupid.

    • Steve
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm
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    Hi 21Century,
    Addressing Ed’s point is like addressing a beehive of false assumptions.
    Consider this carefully;
    Would you get upset if Charles Schultz had decided to make one of the Peanuts characters suicidal ? …get a clue – cartoons are just fictions of the imagination!

    Ed asserts that something that is clearly a satirical & humor-oriented contest, put forth for people who understand the characters and the family story of the Lane household,… is “hysterical” and from “insular” conservatives.
    Chances are, he has not taken the time to study the aspects of who & what this fictitious family is about, or read through the cartoon history.

    Stifling speech ranges from subtly badgering or intimidating people into silence, in various public forums, to more serious efforts. Have you read about Al Sharpton (the phony “Reverend”) who has been going to the FCC to get Rush Limbaugh censored?
    It has been in the news for a few weeks.

    Sharpton repeats the lie that Rush is “racist” in his shows content. Sharpton cannot compete with the audience that Rush has, no one wants to listen to the race-pimp Sharpton or Jesse Jackson either, on a radio show.
    So, they use false assertions of “racism” to try and silence political views they do not like.
    Interesting; these two thugs call themselves “Reverends’”, yet their living for decades has been based on a pack of race-baiting lies. Whatever happened to the 1st Testament scripture, “Thou Shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor…” ?

    There have been repeated lie’s about Rush,… and -ALL- of them never proven, that he has made racist comments on his show… There are 20+ years of his shows logged as mp3 files… open to the public who has subscribed to them… and no one has ever found such a racist comment.
    Rush has been an expert at showing how humorless the political left really is.
    I have been listening to him for nearly all of his 23 years of his program. He is superb at exposing the dry, sourness of the “progressive” culture.

    If you listen to Rush long enough, you will see clearly how true his examples are~

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm
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    Steve, nice to know that you only mean American liberals. Since i’m not American, I assume it means you don’t have a beef with me, correct?

    So can you tell me if it would be acceptable if I were to draw a comic featuring Sarah Palin and decided to end it with her suicide? What if i merely do one about a pastiche of Sarah Palin named Parah Salin, for example? Would you, in such a situation, be upset?

    Furthermore, I am aware that they are fictitious. That doesn’t make it any less disrespectful for people who had to live through a loved one committing suicide.

    I mean, can you at least acknowledge how tasteless it is to make light of something as serious as suicide?

    • Steve
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm
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    @Hi 21Century,

    Huh? — you have not said what country you are from… where are you from, or at??
    Also, you seemed to have a straight forward question, and that is alright~
    I have not perceived anything adversarial in your questions, either.

    Apply some common sense fella,… Sarah Palin is a real world person, as any public figure is – so, if you put her character likeness in a cartoon, you are not playing around with a fictitious character any longer-!
    That is very obvious, right ?

    We may agree to disagree – the subject of suicide has been used in humorous ways for a long time.
    Go see the original movie, M*A*S*H.
    ( and lighten up a little… ok? )

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm
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    What about the situation in which the character is a pastiche, a fictional character based on a real one or representing a real ideology, as is the case of Devon which, I believe, seems to represent leftist women.

    • Ed Clarke
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm
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    Steve, it seems to be worryingly essential to your point of view to file me in your “enemy” category before you respond to anything I’m saying. You’re repeatedly jumping to the dual conclusion that I am both a political leftist and a complete newcomer to Diversity Lane; for what it’s worth, I’m neither. I’ve been a fan of the cartoon for years now, and I’ve only recently started commenting out of a kind of puzzlement at the sea change that appears to be taking place here since Zack’s book was published. I guess the main thrust of what I’m wondering about can be split into two parts:

    First, the tone of the content has been taking a decidedly ad-hominem and vindictive turn lately. This “suicide is hilarious as long as it’s somebody we don’t like” piece is the best example of this, but it’s certainly not the only one. Zack is a very talented artist and his jokes, when he bothers to make them, can be extremely clever and witty. I’ve gotten a lot of laughs out of DL, but I guess I’m just confused at why the majority of the content these days consists of little but shallow, lazy mudslinging instead of the genuinely funny commentary I’m used to. I miss the days when I could laugh at the ridiculousness of the characters and the politics without every phrase and image being submerged in this disquieting undercurrent of personal spite. I’m not trying to tell the artist how to make his art, mind you — I just don’t get it.

    Second, there is an incredibly sharp disparity between the publicly-presented version of Diversity Lane and the actual content and commentary from Zack himself. I simply don’t get the dishonesty here. Just read the Amazon description of the book, it contains quotes like the one I posted above, and this one:

    “The right will welcome joyously its no-holds-barred puncturing of liberals’ most cherished beliefs; open-minded progressives up for a challenge will find it combative but thought-provoking; and non-political types will simply laugh out loud at the ever-imaginative and visually striking goings on around Diversity Lane.”

    Just take the strangely and uncharacteristically upbeat, inoffensive style of that Amazon description and compare it to almost anything Zack has ever posted in the comments section containing the word “liberal”. My question is: why lie? Is the intent to trick leftists or centrists into buying the book? If we’re being honest, DL isn’t really intended for anyone who doesn’t already agree with everything being said here (nor should it be). I’m not saying that the cartoon should change into some kind of please-everybody sappy love-in — please god, no — instead, it should stick to its roots. Poking fun at the obvious flaws in the left, promoting conservative values, and being funny while doing it. So why present it this way to the outside world? Why lie?

    • Steve
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm
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    Ed-
    Interesting & sleazy gymnastics you twist & turn about…
    So many presumptuous & arrogant conclusions about Zack’s work.
    And your closing question is the mother-of-all projections from your pusillanimous sub-culture… you sling assertions of intellectual corruption that in fact, you wallow in perpetually.

    Go ask Zack — he creates this blog… or do you need THAT explained also ?

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 7:43 pm
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    Steve, seriously, you can’t tell me you honestly don’t see it? The entire point of that contest was spite.

    • Jamie
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm
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    @Steve: Cartoons are indeed fictions of the imagination, but there is a time and place for things. I would have been quite upset if Schulz had introduced a suicidal character – it would have been extremely contrary to the strips nature! On the other hand since, unlike Ed, I AM someone who just recently disocvered this site and have only read the more recent, apparently andrier strips, I have no problem with the Devon suicide contest.

    Also, “Interesting & sleazy gymnastics you twist & turn about”? Is english your first language?

    • Ben
    • Posted February 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm
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    I remember once, a number of years ago, walking through the halls of my high school with a good friend of mine. She tried to walk faster, but suddenly grunted, stopped, and put her hand on her stomach. She was obviously in pain.

    When I asked what was wrong, she confided in me that the cuts on her stomach had opened up. They began to bleed and were deep enough to cause tremendous pain. I’m glad she was wearing a sweatshirt, so that nobody could see what she was going through.

    I, too, have dealt with personal issues that give rise to suicidal thoughts. I deal with pain, both physical and emotional, through humor: however, this contest is morally bankrupt and completely unfunny. Moral bankruptcy and humor are obviously not at ends; a great number of comedians prove it every day. But you are exploiting an incredibly sensitive issue – which you obviously have no familiarity with – for political gain, with humor or good intention so woefully missing.

  1. Ben: Are you kidding, I feel like suicide every day after reading some of the comments at my blog.

    I have had extremely close contact with the subject of suicide– more than once. Actually I’m starting to feel kind of self-conscious about it. You know enough people who’ve offed themselves, you start thinking, Is it me…

    But seriously– really seriously. You shouldn’t assume that there’s only one way to deal with such travails. Humor is among the oldest– and some would say one of the best– ways of dealing with the tragedies of life. It takes longer to get to that place for some than others, and sometimes it takes a very long time indeed.

    • Siegmund Wagneryann
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 1:53 am
    • Permalink

    I’ve seen some suicides in my years,
    One of them quite close.
    But still I say a smile – not fears -
    Is better than staying morose.

    Life has stings, we’d all agree,
    But among the stings so deep
    Is the sting which stifles speech that’s free
    For a lifelong will to weep.

    Why a rhyme or perhaps a joke?
    Because it’s just a little measure
    Of recovery and joy to revoke
    Pain for life’s sweeter pleasure.

    There’s little to the Left’s complaint;
    “Shut up” is what it mostly means.
    It’s the application of such Left restraint
    Which proves them philistines.

    The trump card played cries “Victim!”
    And is slapped down on the table,
    For the Left obeys their dictum:
    There’s no pain they can’t enable.

    • Tetsuo
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 2:10 am
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    @Zack: It may be true that humor is one of the best ways of dealing with tragedies, but generally people don’t find humor in creating them, even fictional ones. Unless there was some greater point you were going to make with this – which given the contest and the result doesn’t seem the case to me, but you would know better than I would, being the artist and all – it does seem a little bit much like making a cheap “gag” using suicide as the punchline rather than dealing with tragedy. Perhaps it’s just a matter of this whole thing having been phrased poorly, but it really does just seem kind of tasteless.

    • Tetsuo
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 2:11 am
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    And @Steve: I know you have fundamental problems with those of a different political stripe, but we’re trying to be civil with those of you we disagree with, would it be too much to ask for you to try and do the same?

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 6:21 am
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    Zack, the real problem isn’t so much trying to make a suicide joke as it is making a contest out of it.

    Trust me, I would’ve been a lot less offended if you just went straight for a suicide attempt joke than if you decided to play around with it. It’s like if you said “Hmm, my Liberal friend is feeling depressed, come on, guys, let’s find a good way for her to commit suicide! I’ll tally the votes and give her the top 5 answers!”

    It’s really morbid and goes a lot farther than just making a joke about suicide, it makes a game out of suicide attempts, it’s a very, very tasteless thing to run a contest about.

    • Siegmund Wagneryann
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 9:02 am
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    “Gigi” would be apt just now.
    Watch the movie through.
    Alan Jay Lerner was clever chap;
    He joked about suicide too.

    “Suicide Survivors: The Importance of Humor”
    By humorless Kevin Caruso
    Would make most worthy read;
    Why not google it and do so.

    “If I had no sense of humor,”
    Mahatma the Gandhi said,
    “I’d long ago have committed suicide.”
    Someone shot the man instead.

    “My work is done. Why Wait?”
    Said Eastman, not to gloat.
    It was the last thing he would write,
    Tongue-in-cheek was his suicide note.

    No one jokes about suicide?
    Aw come on, that’s a jolly lie.
    Even some that’ve done it
    Have heard laughter in the sky.

    The “real problem” isn’t a joke,
    A contest, not even my cheap rhyme.
    The “real problem” is such seriousness
    Which thinks joking is a crime.

    • Ben
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 9:33 am
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    Zack: I hope you take a slow pace on the winding road of life, and realize exactly what it is you’re saying. If you wanted to make light of a dark situation, you have seriously failed to do so.

    The soul of wit is brevity. It is not, as with your attempt to amuse us, malice. The difference between your contest and every funny joke about suicide, every good stand-up routine, lies thoroughly not just in its execution, but also in its intent. This contest is a reflection of a malicious hatred of your political naysayers, with humor just an afterthought. Situational humor about suicide can be pulled off, but when the punchline is just your own vitriol, the only people whose company you’ll enjoy are those who share in your anger.

    There is nothing clever or insightful about this contest. There is no base level of comedy to work from. It’s simply you and many others reveling in the darkness; you balk at others that don’t wish to join you. That inhumanity is what truly strikes at me.

    • 21stCentury
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm
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    Yo, Siggy, no one thinks anything here is a crime. It’s just tasteless. Not saying “Zack ought to never do anything like that again”, just thinking it’s not a very classy thing to do. I don’t really care if he does something like that again as long as he doesn’t care if I say I find it offensive. I’m just speaking my mind, not trying to stifle anyone.

    I think it’s offensive, he doesn’t. We can discuss it and better understand each other. I think it’s a good thing to discuss things with people you disagree with and, honestly, I kinda hope you’ll keep disagreeing with me because I really enjoy discussing things. :)

    Also, never stop rhyming, Sigmund, you are great! :)

    • Siegmund Wagneryann
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm
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    Did you Netflix Gigi yet?
    Caruso’s on the Internet.
    Gandhi really made that joke.
    Did Eastman’s line provoke?

    Tatseless is no crime,
    And class is not a paradigm.
    Being offended’s quite the game,
    It’s the one you seem to claim.

    But -cide which is sui-(like other-cides)
    Is tempered with by humor’s lighter side.
    In speaking your mind, you make it clear
    Some chuckle a bit, while you cry in your beer.

    • Tetsuo
    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm
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    @Siggy: Sure, it’s no crime. But that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree on it like ordinary human beings. An echo chamber is a terrible thing regardless of what side it’s on, and I’d like to imagine Zack appreciates having a few voices of dissent to keep things interesting.


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