Some Cartoonists Need a Lesson in Critical Thinking

The highly insular world of comics is talking about another defamation case: this one filed by a comics industry figure accused of sexual harassment, anti-Semitism and other offenses. I have absolutely no idea whether there is any truth to these allegations.

Read the article.

Important people within the industry, including some who I consider friends, have rushed to the defense of the defendants in the defamation lawsuit. There’s even a gofundme seeking to raise $120,000 for the defendants. It’s doing great.

What disturbs me is that details are still sketchy and so hard to come by. No one has posted the defamation complaint so that we can read it. Yet an inordinately high number of people within the industry are expressing support for the 11 defendants and donating money. That’s a lot of strong opinion without a lot of information.

Again, I have absolutely no idea if the plaintiff in this case is as much of an asshole as alleged. Obviously the courts will sort this out. If he is, the odds are that his lawsuit will be dismissed or that he will lose at trial.

What if he’s right? What if he’s telling the truth? In the age of #MeToo, no one seems to be asking that question.

I’ve seen this sort of behavior before, especially within the world of cartooning. You’d think cartoonists would be a punk-rock crowd but they aren’t. Most are a timid lot. Filing a lawsuit makes a lot of them uncomfortable. I’ve seen it twice. Many of my colleagues don’t like the fact that in 1999 I filed a lawsuit against an identity thief who tried to destroy my career and in fact destroyed one of my most important relationships. Many others don’t like the fact that I’m now suing a media company. Don’t poke the bear, seems to be their mantra.

They don’t dispute that I’m right. They don’t dispute that I was victimized. They just think I should take my licks. It’s a weird culture of submission.

I talked to a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist shortly after the LA Times screwed me to try to enlist his support. I don’t believe you, he told me. I asked him if he had listened to the audio? No time for that, he replied. It’s six minutes long. He spent hours telling other people he didn’t believe me but couldn’t be bothered to spend six minutes to see if his strong opinion held water. Lazy mofo. Stupid.

Critical thinking calls for less knee-jerkery and more careful consideration of the facts and evidence. If I don’t know enough about a cause, I don’t take a side.

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About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at ANewDomain.net, editor-in-chief of SkewedNews.net, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

32 thoughts on “Some Cartoonists Need a Lesson in Critical Thinking

  1. “Critical thinking calls for less knee-jerkery and more careful consideration of the facts and evidence. If I don’t know enough about a cause, I don’t take a side.”

    Sorry, but many of your toons are biased and based on less than half the information.
    I know you have an audience you need to appeal to.
    Bucks to earn.
    Yes, you need to simplify complex situations for the dimwitted Genpop and semi-fake-hip intelligentsia.
    But that sentence was pure hypocrisy.

      • “Genpop and semi-fake-hip intelligentsia.”
        The second really nailed your ass eh?
        I can tell by the response.

      • Your shit is transparent buffoonery, Flick.

        Your words blow right by me like a corporate ad, without registering.

        Do you really think you are you fooling anyone except your clueless self?

  2. Perhaps when Ted writes a book about all this, he can dedicate it twice: First to his friends who stood with him, and then he can also “thank” the people who shat on him. At least then, we’d all know who the real assholes were.

    • @alexthetired: Too early to say now, but there could easily be a book about this. Certainly it is true that some of my friends — and friends I didn’t know I had — stuck with me. I will never forget them. At the same time, some really stabbed me in the back. Some were cowards, others opportunists, others dumbasses. I suppose this is the nature of a public shaming. Obviously I won’t forget them either.

  3. “Pickrodt demands damages be reimbursed at an amount of no less than $2.5 million”

    Got to get himself a cut from the deep pockets of freelance cartoonists? 😉
    [Importantly, the guy didn’t counter-sue, all the allegations were voiced in sort-of-public, not via the courts. This is the key difference to Ted’s case, IMO]

    But seriously, the guy could have just written a conciliatory blog post denying the bulk of the charges but self-critically observing that the positive cultural changes – manifested by Me-Too – in hindsight now make it problematic that he mixed private and professional life. Perhaps he now has come to recognize that he was in a superior position work-wise and hence needs to be more “woke” before making advances to women whose livelihood in some small way depends on his goodwill.

    He could muse that he never felt himself truly as a boss so much since his is such a small, rickety outfit, etc. If he were subtle he could even say that he is of course totally supportive of Me-Too and is as such alarmed by these made-up allegations which are going to go nowhere and thus end up damaging the movement against the actual predators…

    But noooooo, it’s all the way back to the 60s, baby:

    “The claims that were made by Whitney Taylor are false. The other defendants more or less jumped on the bandwagon,” Carbonaro argues. “I mean, no one else was there. None of these other defendants were present when whatever happened between Whitney Taylor and Cody Pickrodt happened. By what she describes there she’s really describing a consensual interlude which involved an enormous amount of alcohol, and where they have consensual sex. I mean, if she ended up regretting it, you know, we can’t really help that.”

    While Carbonaro (the guy’s lawyer…) could have gotten away with this drivel even a few years ago – and may possibly win any and all court cases (her word against his, etc.) – in the big sense he already lost it all, right then and there, and rightly so. “We can’t help it”? Seriously? No, you could help it, were supposed to help it, and now are supposed to at least pretend to care about a person, any person, let alone someone who you thought about hiring and were also (!) intimate with.

    => I can relate to people – however prematurely – instinctively closing ranks with the underdogs – and why they are prepared to do so more readily in this case; compare:

    If Ted should lose, fellow workers visibly lose the option to challenge professional wrong-doing by their bosses through legal processes so protracted and rife with danger that only persons of deep principle will even contemplate to engage in.

    If Pickrodt/Carbonaro were to win, fellow workers visibly lose the ability to go online and bad-mouth bosses who screwed them.

    • andreas5

      When in doubt simply shut the fuck up.
      People have VERY short memories.
      I’ve pointed out the Anthony Anderson case

      “Anderson and second assistant director Wayne Witherspoon were accused of raping a 25-year-old extra in a trailer on the film set of Hustle & Flow on July 27, 2004. The alleged victim accused Anderson and Witherspoon of forcibly removing her clothing, photographing her naked body, and digitally penetrating her.[16] A witness claimed to have heard the alleged victim’s screams and to have seen her run naked from the trailer, and she was treated at St. Francis Hospital. The charges were dropped on October 6, 2004 because the judge found the alleged victim’s testimony to be suspicious.[17]

      Anderson was sued for sexual assault in September 2004 by another woman who claimed that Anderson sexually assaulted her in his dressing room on the set of All About the Andersons.[18]

      On July 20, 2018, it was revealed that he is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department for another sexual assault allegation”

      He paid off the first case, then fucked WAS CAUGHT, remember that specific terminology, once again.
      Money wasn’t enough I guess.
      Either way nearly two decades passed before another investigation.
      How many for Cosby?
      Clinton?

    • ““The claims that were made by Whitney Taylor are false. The other defendants more or less jumped on the bandwagon,” Carbonaro argues. “I mean, no one else was there. None of these other defendants were present when whatever happened between Whitney Taylor and Cody Pickrodt happened. By what she describes there she’s really describing a consensual interlude which involved an enormous amount of alcohol, and where they have consensual sex. I mean, if she ended up regretting it, you know, we can’t really help that.”

      While Carbonaro (the guy’s lawyer…) could have gotten away with this drivel even a few years ago – and may possibly win any and all court cases (her word against his, etc.) – in the big sense he already lost it all, right then and there, and rightly so.”

      Not really.
      Lawyers are weasels for a reason.
      OJ ring any bells?
      What about the Kennedy clan? Wasn’t there a cousin tried for rape who walked? Not to mention Ted and a certain bridge.
      Most “victims” don’t want to relive the experience. And when they do they admit under oath that certain factors were involved which contributed to the experience.
      Never, ever, ever, testify on your own behalf.

      • ewg,

        not exactly sure what you are saying or whether or not we disagree on much.

        Cases from 2004 are well before MeToo – though it may come to bite them now. Kennedys and Cosby have amassed vast cultural capital (well beyond Weinstein let alone a nobody like the schmuck we’re talking about here), so that would seem a quite different beast.

        Still, if anything, Cosby being found finally found guilty of sexual assault only goes to show the power of the recent cultural shift.

      • andreas5

        My point was attorney, good attorneys, turn the evidence against the victims.
        Either they force a settlement which drops the case or they make it seem the witness is not stating what was originally claimed.

        Link to the 2004 Anderson case.
        https://www.today.com/popculture/rape-charges-dismissed-vs-barbershop-actor-wbna6193744

        The best part is despite the woman claiming rape and consensual sex but forced was the following
        ““That said, this has been a terrible ordeal for him and his family, and he is eager to put it behind him and move on with his life and career,” Mayer said.”

        Now the rapist becomes the victim and his poor family suffers for his inability to keep his desires in check.
        Fuck me it was joint sex, real kink shit.

        Kennedy cousin,
        “1991 sexual assault charge

        In 1991, Smith was tried and acquitted on a charge of rape, represented by Miami-based criminal defense attorney Roy Black in a trial that attracted extensive media coverage.[7]

        The incident began on the evening of Good Friday, March 29, 1991, when Smith, then 30 years old, was in a bar (named Au Bar) in Palm Beach, Florida, with his uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, and his cousin Patrick J. Kennedy. Smith met Patricia Bowman,[8][9][10] a 29-year-old woman and another young woman at the bar. The five then went to a nearby house owned by the Kennedy family. Smith and the 29-year-old woman walked along the beach. The woman alleged that Smith raped her; Smith testified that they had consensual sex. Although three women were willing to testify that Smith had sexually assaulted them in incidents in the 1980s that were not reported to the police, their testimony was excluded.[11] Smith was acquitted of all charges.”

        Ted was married, Patrick was most likely married and the other one would have been a #Metoo court case today.

      • right, I think I got that…

        maybe I should have been clearer: as I said, the sleazy lawyer may even win any and all cases in court – like Cosby was widely expected to prevail.

        But all their “cultural capital” would have been burned irregardless. Precisely because the legal process is stacked in favor of the powerful – as your examples demonstrate – people now take matters into their own hands and shun the Weinsteins and Cosbys of this world, directly taking away their social power they had been abusing (nobody is letting Weinstein cast a show nor going to have drinks with Cosby ever again).

        Of course, as Ted has written about, justice through public spectacle is somewhat problematic; whereas at court in principle (counter-)evidence can be presented and decisions appealed. Hence Ted’s appeal to critical thinking – and my rejoinder about people understandably closing ranks with their fellow underdogs rather than siding with their masters (so far only if said masters are sexual predators).

    • @andreas5: “If Ted should lose”
      Also if I lose, and I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen, employees of media companies in California — which could arguably include giant social media companies — could lose protections against discrimination and retaliation over gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. This is because the Times is arguing that such protections do not cover First Amendment-protected employers.

      • Agreed. And I do think your case is quite important going forward.

        The U.S. system of essentially arbitrary hire and fire (unless discrimination can be proven) gives employers huge power and creates a lot of violence as it is. It is no coincidence that a lot of the #MeToo cases center around abuse of power in the context of casting couches etc.

        I think if you play up this connection more, perhaps you will get more support.

  4. Been here, done this. I sued an employer and evidence was overwhelmingly in my favor …

    … but …

    I talked to a manager beforehand, he was a guy who talked the talk and promised he wasn’t going to let The Corporation push anyone around. Then came his deposition, he lied through his teeth, including about the details we’d discussed earlier. I thought he was going to stand up on his chair and start singing the corporate anthem. Gah! I lost all respect for a guy that I’d formerly looked up to.

    So are our fellow humans so lacking in a sense of community that they will throw one of their own under the bus? Am I? I don’l think so – when I’ve been in similar situations I’ve always stood up for my fellow humans rather than abstract entities.

    “If we don’t all hang together …

    • “If we don’t all hang together …we shall surely hang separately.”

      True. But true for both revolutionaries and reactionaries.

      Unfortunately, most people don’t wear signs declaring the side they’re on when they choose to operate in assassin mode.

      Et tu, Brute?

    • CrazyH

      While not a lawsuit this really happened.

      I was a temp at a national factory. I passed a urine test as did everyone who worke3d there.
      One day these two Hispanic guys gave me a ride home, it was on their way. A third new guy I knew from the old neighborhood also caught a ride.
      Hispanic guy had to take his car in for inspection.
      We three, two Hispanics and me, smoked a joint while the third declined.
      Next day Hispanics and I were called in for piss tests. Third guy narced.
      I was last.
      When I went into the office I demanded that EVERYONE on the factory floor, temps and regulars, get tested.
      Medical guy thought for a second, told me I didn’t have to take the test and that the other two would have their tests tossed out.
      Small victory, but memorable.
      I also got one of the discoverers of Interferon to admit there was no treatment “of statistical significance” for Cancer.
      This was 2000 something.
      At the time I was seeing a surgeon who worked under him. Guy was amazed because the other doctor would refuse to admit anything even close to that while he was working with him.

  5. Filing a lawsuit doesn’t exactly sound punk rock either.

    And on the other hand, from what you’ve written about your experiences, it seems that one can hardly blame them for shying away from litigation. Attacking or shunning people for standing up for themselves is another matter.

  6. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of unsubstantiated accusations is that they should be acted upon as if they were unquestionably true.”

    Who needs proof when 100 million Americans believe something is true?

    Sadly, the counter to the “truth” of the mob is only the “truth” of another mob in this nation of believers.

    As a child I thought I would eventually escape this idiocy after graduation from grammar school. I had no idea that children could maintain such a childish way of understanding the world well into adulthood.

    • Sadly, the counter to the “truth” of the mob is only the “truth” of another mob in this nation of believers.

      Temptation’s page flies out the door
      You follow, find yourself at war
      Watch waterfalls of pity roar
      You feel to moan, but unlike before
      You discover that you’d just be one more
      Person crying

  7. “It’s a weird culture of submission.”

    America (so-called land of the free, home of the brave) certainly has a lot of timid people in it. And it’s not limited to cartoonists.

    My sister-in-law is a pharmacist who suffered much harassment, including the sexual variety, at work. It turns out that a lot of nasty business can go on beneath the level of a countertop that hides some of the worst from the view of customers: such as genital exposure, and frotteurism.

    When she asked for help from others that had endured the same type of harassment, all declined to stick their necks out in support of her. Fortunately for her, a member of her family is a lawyer who made a few calls to corporate headquarters and a quick resolution was had.

    When her coworkers asked how she managed to get relief from the same indignities that they continued to suffer (but that they previously denied to her that they had suffered), my sister-in-law reversed the game on them by saying she was not being harassed (which at that time was now true) and told them she didn’t want to get involved with their questionable claims of abuse.

    Because this is the American way.

    The deniers are complicit with the offenders.

    Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”

    • Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”

      Fuck Burke.
      Evil triumphs because decisions are mundane. Ford weighed the cost of lives against a thirty cent part.
      Pro-ball player joins the military after 911, we won’t even go into that scam, gets killed by his own troops and it gets covered up.
      Oxycontin marketing creates and epidemic.
      Various drug prices increase for no apparent reason.
      All mundane corporate decisions made by good people who most likely donate to various charities.

  8. Obviously the courts will sort this out [i e, whether Mr Pickrodt is an arsehole or not].

    Your faith in the (US) courts is touching, Ted – although I must admit, somewhat surprising given what you’ve gone and arre going through….

    The interesting thing to me here is the support the 11 cartoonists whom Mr Pickrodt is sueing have received from others, in contrast to the lack of support that you, if I understand aright, have received for your lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times. Peerhaps Mr Pickrodt is thought to be a less dangerous adversary than the L A Times ?…

    Henri

      • Dude everyone is a coward.
        How many homeless you walk by daily? You offer to take them in? Help them get back on their feet?
        You see some dude getting a beat down by bikers, you step in?
        We all pick and choose our heroism.

    • Peerhaps Mr Pickrodt is thought to be a less dangerous adversary than the L A Times ?…

      PEERHAPS, like that unconscious play on words.
      Maybe no one really gives a shit because it just ain’t them.

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