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As promised earlier this month I am herewith posting the first lecture in my Basic Humor course.  This series has been found to be necessary due to the uncommon quantity of noncomprehending visitors to this blog– folks who simply can’t seem to wrap their minds around my cartoons.  This humor deficit seems to be limited to left-leaning visitors; more moderate thinkers have no problem getting my stuff and even finding it reasonably funny. 

I have a possible theory on why the left fails to grasp so much humor, and the culprit once again, no surprise,  may be Manmade Global Warming.  The left is consumed with angst over this non-event.  [A non-event because 1) there is evidence that we may be cooling rather than warming, and 2) warming trends as well as cooling ones have ebbed and flowed over the eons probably since the early days of this planet, with no discernable ancient SUVs or other manmade things in sight to have caused these quixotic temperature changes.  Though, it is possible that modern man with his greenhouse gasses and miscellaneous crap may yet be responsible for temperature variations in past epochs via the newly theorized “carbon time-seepage,” in which evil greenhouse gas emissions may actually have traveled backwards in time to wreak havoc on climates past.]  Anyway– in their endless preoccupation over imminently rising, globally warmed oceans and other horrible warm junk the left can’t possibly have mental room for other things– like humor.  They’re just too worried.  I’m hoping my series will help them work around this.

My first lesson pertains to the cartoon called “Zoned Out.”  Many visitors claimed that because I’ve utilized the “it’s cold out; what kinda Global Warming?” thesis in an earlier cartoon, this renders the new one nonvalid or lazy.  These readers need to acquaint themselves with the concept of the “running joke,” also known as the “running gag.”  This is a well-worn idea used in plays, films, TV shows, comic strips and every other species of humor known to man.  My suggestion to stumped or angry visitors and commentors is to go back to Aristophanes, continue reading through the comedies of Shakespeare, onward to Sheridan, Shaw, Wilde and any other notable playwright you can get your hands on and right up into the present.  Note the occurance of these “running jokes.”  When you have attained a full grasp of how such things work, come back to Diversity Lane.  We’ll be waiting for you with, maybe not open arms but certainly a nice organic sandwich.



    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 10:01 am
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    We understand running jokes. Our problem is that “Heh, it’s COLD outside” is a terrible “joke” and you could do far better.

    • geeknerd
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 10:06 am
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    There was a Jack Beeny memorial on TV the other night, and in one sketch his teenage daughter is redoing the math homework Daddy helped her do. Hew mother asked way, to which the daughter said, “all his answers came out to 39.” This was hillarious, since Jack Benny had been 39 and holding for his entire professional career. It was one of his best running gags, used almost as often as his cheapness.

  1. Love it, thanks geeknerd… and yes, I actually recall that classic running Bennyism about age 39.

    • Steve T
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 10:08 am
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    Too many words – sorry, but I suspect most of the ‘under the bridge’ culture became cross-eyed, reached for their bong, and either had a good ‘drag’, or if their hash ran out, had a good chug of bong water.

    Your effort to help them learn is very noble – I suspect most of these roach-clip, facial-pierced morons are a lost cause.
    If there is one-in-twenty who may gain wisdom, Providence will bless you-!


  2. Thanks Steve T… and, you may be right. Maybe a course on Extended Reading should come first.

    • Sack
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 10:15 am
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    Running gags only work when they avoid tired redundancy. What you are doing is called “lazy cartooning”.

    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 11:00 am
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    A good running gag – the Crocs in Pearls Before Swine, or the ZZ Top cats in Cow & Boy.

    Bad jokes – “Heh, how can it be Global WARMING when it’s COLD outside? :smug:”

  3. “The left … they … the left … running joke … they …”

    You mean the USA actually has a “left”? Compared to the most of the rest of the world, the notion of an American “left” is a running joke. Looks like different shades of “right” from here (Ireland). 8)

    PS: Note Smiley!

    • thesecolorsdontrun
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 1:59 pm
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    Zack, liberals will laugh at jokes, the problem is that your global warming humor in this instance doesn’t possess an incisive enough observation.

    Any real analysis of the situations proves one consistent fact, the discrepancy behind the findings of the IPCC and the actions taken by politicians.

    • thesecolorsdontrun
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm
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    Also a running gag usually appears in the midst, or on the heels of new material, or when a similar punchline is presented in new ways. (example above with Jack Benny’s ’39’ gag.) all of your cartoons on the matter have been more or less identical. I wanted to give you some credit on Emergensea, but it was a little overwrought.

    I guess liberals not getting the joke is exactly why so many conservatives had a hard time grasping that the Colbert Report was satire, eh?

    • Sack
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm
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    Brian t knows what’s up. Maybe one day the US will get an actual left-wing president. Obama is certainly not it.

    • wootabega
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm
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    Here’s a simple way to sum up running gags.

    Good examples of running gags: Arrested Development

    Bad examples of running gags: Diversity Lane

    • eric
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm
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    Angst over any illogicle thing, combined with Chicken Licken or the Boy Who Cried Wolf equals lefties.
    BTW GAFLAREBIL, the stupid talking points originated with you lefties, obviously a sophisticated sense of humor would trump that. Is that a running joke?

    • eric
    • Posted November 24, 2009 at 7:12 pm
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    Sorry, I need to wear my glasses….,obviously it does’nt take a sophisticated sence of humor to trump that. Excuse please.

    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted November 25, 2009 at 6:48 am
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    Hey Steve, has it ever occurred to you there are more people who will be blunt than JUST Ken? Maybe it’s…*gasp* somebody different! I know, that sounds unlikely. But I’ll bet you it’s true.

    • thesecolorsdontrun
    • Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:56 am
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    So spending all day kissing zacks ass means you have more of a life than people who spend a little time each day opposing his political diatribe?
    Seems like you have just a lame a life as you think the trolls do, steve.

    Besides, we can’t be here all day, the massive liberal conspiracies don’t run themselves.

    • MethodistMin
    • Posted November 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm
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    Kind of shame, Kack, when yu have to explain your humor to some liberals and liberal trolls.

    And Steve, you may be correct. Ken was another troll who was preocuupied with telling people to pull their head out of their ass. I actually think he’s here under several handles.

    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:34 pm
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    Some kinda Gaystapo conspiracy I think Sack.

  4. Yeah i’m going to go with what people have already said-we get your jokes they’ve just either been done to death elsewhere or are not funny.

    • Sack
    • Posted November 26, 2009 at 6:43 am
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    It’s turkey time, gobble gobble.

    • Steve T
    • Posted November 26, 2009 at 6:56 am
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    Thank you for broaching the topic of Thanksgiving.

    The Real Story of Thanksgiving
    November 25, 2009
    -by Rush H. Limbaugh

    RUSH: It’s time for the traditional true story of Thanksgiving, as written by me in my second best seller of 2.5 million copies in hardback: See, I Told You So. “Chapter 6, Dead White Guys, or What the History Books Never Told You: The True Story of Thanksgiving — The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century (that’s the 1600s for those of you in Rio Linda, California). The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.

    “After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

    “And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford’s detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford’s own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

    “Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.
    “Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the ’60s and ’70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That’s right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn’t work!”

    “It never has worked! “What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future. ‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years…that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,’ Bradford wrote.

    “‘For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense … that was thought injustice.’ Why should you work for other people when you can’t work for yourself? What’s the point? Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

    “Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? ‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, ‘for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.’ Bradford doesn’t sound like much of a Clintonite” I wrote then “does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph’s suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the ‘seven years of plenty’ and the ‘Earth brought forth in heaps.’ (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.

    “Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you’re laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.'” But this story stops when the Indians taught the newly arrived suffering in socialism Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish for cod. That’s where the story stops, and the story basically doesn’t even begin there. The real story of Thanksgiving is William Bradford giving thanks to God for the guidance and the inspiration to set up a thriving colony. The bounty was shared with the Indians. They did sit down and they had dinner, and I think they had a turkey, but it was not the Indians who saved the day. It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day.”


    • Big Money
    • Posted November 26, 2009 at 10:01 pm
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    Brevity is the soul of wit.

    • capnbutch2000
    • Posted November 27, 2009 at 11:43 am
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    I am absolutely delighted by the cartoon in question and, frankly, by everything you do. It is refreshing to see something different from the common and yours are the best.

    The best part of what you do is that every cartoon asks me to view things in ways that I had not viewed before.

    I am in awe.

    Thanks for all that you do.

    • Eugene
    • Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm
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    • MethodistMin
    • Posted November 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm
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    Your link shouyld be under the global warming cartoon.

    If global warming is real there shoulkd be no need to falsify information and suppress date.

    • Eugene
    • Posted November 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm
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    I never said global warming was or wasn’t real. I’m just pointing Zach’s “running joke” has been done to death by other artists.

  5. “This humor deficit seems to be limited to left-leaning visitors…”

    Danger. There be dragons!

    Logic and reason is lost on Leftists. It will do nothing but confuse and anger them, with invective and vitriol as your reward, DL.

    It’s why Lefties proudly proclaim themselves to be tolerant & open minded.

    Like I said, logic and reason is lost on Leftists.

    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted November 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm
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    And…why do you say that person with the breath of coal and fire? Give an example from this blog where we haven’t tried our best to be logical.

    I’ll refute your claim, and reverse it. Just take a look at Stevey.

  6. “Like I said, logic and reason is lost on Leftists.”

    Yes I couldnt agree more. Logic and reason are why the right supports ID in classrooms, pressure against gay rights and a massive military despite a push towards low taxes.

    Incently the actions of the Bush administration were nothing but pure rationalism.

    Is their anything you people say which isnt a meaningless buzzword?

    Danger here be idiots!

    • Steve T
    • Posted November 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm
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    M Calavera-
    It seems I have a ‘rent free’ place in your roach-motel mind, too.

    What’s your beef-?

    Complete thoughts, without your usual fabricated flatulence is preferred.

    And… your spelling is as defective as your character… your misuse of my name would be spelled ‘Stevie’.

    Get a life-

    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted November 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm
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    Stevey is an acceptable spelling Steveykins. And I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll go slow this time so even YOU can get it.

    You, yes you Steve. You are the one who acts like (now here comes the hard part) a troll. Yes, yes, I know. You agree with Zack, so how can you be a troll? Because you’re a bigot, a braggard, arrogant, loudmouthed, and you speak with vitriol in EVERY comment. Calling me defective, for example.

    Plus, your grammar is terrible. We’re still waiting on an explanation on the possessive apostrophes being part of the gaystapo agenda, and why you put hyphens at the end of your sentences.

    On a final note, call me Manny if you must shorten the name. That’s the ‘proper’ way it’s shortened in Grim Fandango. Or Mr. Calavera.

  7. It’s worth noting how quickly he degenerates into childish name calling. Plus his fixation on gays and drugs.

    • Tyrone
    • Posted November 30, 2009 at 2:03 am
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    arrested development is a terrible example of anything related to comedy

  8. Thanks capnbutch2000, it was great to get your feedback. I’ve been super-busy lately (read: remiss about touching base here at the blog), but your friendly note made for the best possible homecoming. Happy Unwarming to you!

  9. locomotivebreath 901: Thanks for the always-in-season reminder that libs = unlogic. There is no mnore resonantly true equation than that, including 1+1=2.

  10. oh those libs

  11. .

    I initially decided against posting a full reply to this entry since I fealt it was giving it too much attention than it was worth but I have now changed my mind, pertly becouse I feel if you where to listen it might do some good to the quality of your work since I will give genuine constructive critism rather than you usual “fuck you and die” of my previous statements or the toadying sycophancy of Steve T and other radio talk show republicans. In addition I’m actually slightly offended by the level of smug self-assured perception you possess, Ted rall has the same problem but you are at least a good artist if not writer.

    Note that this doesn’t really equate with your politics which although I find repulsive, conceited and cliché, is secondary to the lulz although I will touch on this in relation to how funny you are not

    Why you are not very funny. The basic problem with your comic is that it’s grossly overspecialized. This is not to say their is anything wrong with a political slant to comic writing. Much comedy has been derived from a political slant the issue is how specialized you are and the audience it appeals to. Which goes something like this

    right wingers> Far right wingers>Far right winger who hate liberals>Far right wingers who hate liberals and who buy into every right wing talking point.>Far right wingers who hate liberals and who buy into every right wing talking point and don’t really get politics

    In short>idiots.

    anybody who isn’t in this range roll their eyes when reading your comics (although I’m sure you can find someone who likes it) and yes I know people send you support but you are attached to large numbers of moron blogs so you’re always going to do well even if you just churn out “fuck liberals” or whatever axe to grin the right has every week.


    The Second problem is again linked with politics. Your political beliefs come over humor to the point where your internal narration often becomes little more than a shout box for how you much you dislike liberals. While on a personal level I find this lame on a conductive level it’s hardly conductive to humor and if anything is nasty rather than funny in short humor should play first fiddle as opposed to your beliefs otherwise this is basically propaganda.


    Where’s the joke here?

    Finally execution this one was already covered by Chris E who I shall quote

    “Gag panel comic strips such as Diversity Lane are a different beast, they’re atomized blasts of narrative. If you’re going to do a “running gag”, it needs to be pretty great and varied in order to really ‘work’ as a running gag. Simple repetition is not particularly effective, as it’s all you get to do in that one shot.”

    You see the issue. Your global warming joke isnt running gag it’s the same joke repeated again a year down the line framed slightly differantly.

    In conclusion Liberals don’t laugh at your jokes because they’re not funny. Your fans buy into your work because it validates their shitty views. I loath to bring up Nazis or commies but their own ‘humor’ strips are found funny by their followers even though they’re as humorous as being set on fire. See Billy the Heretic for details

    As I said your premise of mocking the left is watertight and has been done well in the past I’d really recommend you look up Viz’s modern parents for details. Although you probably wouldn’t like the comic as its purpose is humor rather than propaganda

    • ikabod
    • Posted December 1, 2009 at 10:14 am
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    Liberals are funny. The majority of liberals take themselves just way to seriously. Zack comic is really just a small portion of the vast liberal landscape of cartooning and is no more of a threat to liberalism than say Garry Trudeau is a threat to conservatives.

    • Sack
    • Posted December 1, 2009 at 10:59 am
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    But Zack is a threat to humor. With every comic, comedy dies a little.

  12. “The majority of liberals take themselves just way to seriously”

    Look who’s talking, I’ve never seen a more misrable clan of highly strung crybabies than right wing internet folks

    • ikabod
    • Posted December 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm
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    Really? Yeah, we should not make jokes about the slow bleed of our country. Better to let it happen and worry about it then.

    Truth be told we laugh on the inside.
    But hey if your feeling down head on over to the fun sites! Its a liberal laugh a minute! With games, play areas, and self esteem building!
    the daily beast….
    Fun fun fun!

    Good times indeed.

  13. “Really?”

    i’m not saying that, I’m saying you’re a bunch of whiny thin-skinned cry babies who throw hissy fits and pretend they’re being persecuted at the drop of the

    “But hey if your feeling down head on over to the fun sites!”

    Here is my retort :ahem:


    • Manuel Calavera
    • Posted December 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm
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    Don’t forget Stormfront, or the Westboro Baptist homepage Thomas.

    • ikabod
    • Posted December 2, 2009 at 1:33 am
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    “Don’t forget Stormfront, or the Westboro Baptist homepage Thomas.” Oh back to racist Christain homophobes again. When in doubt call conservatives racists. Ok fine when in doubt call liberals population controlling communists.

    “We need to radically and intelligently reduce human population to fewer than one billion. We need to eliminate nationalism and tribalism and become Earthlings. And as Earthlings, we need to recognize that all the other species that live on this planet are also fellow citizens and also Earthlings. This is a planet of incredible diversity of life-forms; it is not a planet of one species as many of us believe.”

    Paul Watson

    “An abortion is clearly preferable to adding a child to an overburdened family or an overburdened society, where the chances that it will realize its full potentialities are slight.”

    John P Holdren

    Can’t talk to a conservative without calling them a racist….

    “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body.”

    Jeremiah Wright

    Liberalism isn’t funny. You got that Zack? These quotes should prove once and for all that liberals are the Ayatollahs of compassion! Good times!

  14. You didnt answer my comment(again)

    ahem freerepublic

    “Liberals hate us conservatives. They denigrate us, have paranoid fears about violence from us, and try to marginalize and silence us in any way possible. Some would say this is simply partisanship and that their fear of us is based merely on their desire to retain political power, but it is so much deeper than that.

    Were liberals to flee to France as they always threaten when elections don’t turn out their way, they would still fixate on us and gnash their teeth and stomp their feet in anger at our every action. And were we conservatives to leave this planet and set up our own colony on Mars, not interfering with liberal machinations whatsoever, they would still stare up at us in the night sky (though some would actually be looking at the star Arcturus, because they’re not all versed in astronomy) and scream incoherent gibberish similar to what they say when we stand in front of them. That’s because it’s not because of how we inhibit them politically that liberals hate us; they hate us for our freedom.

    We can see this in the current health care debate. Liberals argue they want to give everybody free health care — completely free! — and think this should be a simple argument to get people to hand over control to them and the government. They can almost feel that sweet, sweet government control in their grubby little hands, and it’s inconceivable to them that anyone would be against their generosity. But then the conservatives come and muddy the waters by bringing up the liberty issue. And the liberals react to it like a vampire to a cross (not that liberals react nicely to crosses either).

    “No! Not liberty!” they screech. “Liberty means you die in the street without health care! Curse liberty! Those who want liberty are evil hatemongers! Nasty, nasty liberty! It burns!”

    It’s such an affront to them for people to choose freedom over the gifts they bear. They don’t understand why we can’t be grateful to them for offering us free health care instead of focusing on how 1) what they offer is crappy and we don’t want it and 2) they forcefully take our money to pay for it. Plus, it’s such a personal insult to liberals that we would choose deciding for ourselves over their magnanimous offer to have their wisdom decide things for us. It’s almost like we don’t think they’re all geniuses — and we really don’t, because liberals are pretty much all useless idiots who can’t run their own lives, much less tell someone else how to run his.

    But it’s not just the ingratitude for their faux-benevolence that causes their anger and hatred. Hatred comes from fear, and liberals fear whatever they can’t control. They fear not only the medical industry, but any industry out of government’s grasp. They just think of all those millions of jobs and products being made without their government in complete control of them and worry about what could happen without their guiding wisdom.”

    • thesecolorsdontrun
    • Posted December 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm
    • Permalink

    I haven’t laughed that hard in a damn long time.

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