Posts Tagged ‘reader feedback’

Candorville on Stem Cell Research

Chuck posted the following:

I’d like to make a comment on today’s strip–but I’m afraid it would take too much time. Suffice it to say: We apparently value our own citizen’s lives over those of other country’s citizens. But 10000 in 4 years is less of a holocaust than millions over 30 years. 

First of all, it’s not 10K in 4 years. John Mcglaughlin stated the current tally of dead Iraqi civilians at more than 160,000. The lowest estimates, as of 2004, were in the mid 30,000’s. As a percentage of Iraq’s population, it would be the same as if at least 3 million American civilians had been killed. Feel free to check me on that – I was never great at math.The stem cell research issue has nothing to do with abortion. Scientists are not using aborted fetuses, they’re using excess blastocysts left over from in vitro fertilization. Blastocysts that would be thrown away anyway. They’re never – never – going to become living, breathing human beings. They’re going to become rotten dead cells sitting at the bottom of a dumpster under banana peels.I don’t know about you, but if I were a blastocyst, I’d sure want them to use my stem cells to save countless lives before I rot. At least I would want that, if I had a brain.UPDATE…And then there were the e-mails like this one (I’ve included my responses below):

“What a fake comparison!   The US military did not kill ONE civillian on purpose.   Most of the civillians killed were killed by  terrorists.  The only reason some were ACCIDENTLY killed  by allied forces is that the cowardly terrorists hide behind civillians after they set off rockets.  They are followed to housing which may or may not contain civillians.  Then the allies send a rocket to the house where they hide.     Some of the civillians killed are terrorists own families (who ought to run from them).   Others are just innocent victims of terrorist cowardice.   Sometimes people dressed in civillian clothes carry weapons or run toward our soldiers or Iraq’s and are killed because they are perceived to be threats.  Our soldiers have to make split second decisions to kill or be killed.  In a few cases, these were innocent people, but again, understandably perceived to be threats.    Sometimes the terrorists have even sent children with bombs or grenades toward our military!   This is a clever way to kill our military and a child, and blame US!   Many of those killed were teens in civillian clothing with weapons.   Are these INNOCENT civillians?   No.  Is this OUR fault?   Of course not!  Terrorist wars are not like others where civillians are nowhere near.” 

I’m sorry, I thought you were complaining about Monday’s cartoon. You seem to be complaining about something else entirely, because Monday’s cartoon said nothing about the US military killing civilians on purpose. The cartoon spoke of innocent civilians killed during the war. It doesn’t matter who killed them, it only matters that they were killed, and people such as yourself think that their deaths were worth it if it’ll save more lives in the long run. That’s all the cartoon said. I have no idea why you’re trying to pretend that I said what I didn’t say, unless you’re doing it because you can’t dispute what I actually did say.

“But terrorists have to be stopped.   What would you suggest?   That we allow them to get strong and confident, take over Israel, and finally take over our country?  (Do you know any history of what happened after we chickened out of the VN war?   Would you have wanted to live in Cambodia?  Laos?  VN?)    You liberals never have a solution of your own!!!!  All you know how to do is criticize others.”

“Chicken out” of Vietnam, a war we had no business fighting in the first place? How old are you, by the way? Adults don’t usually speak this way about life and death matters. The solution would have been to not invade Iraq, a country that had no WMD, no ties to Al Qaeda, had never attacked us, and was not about to attack us. The tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who are now dead would still be alive, and because our manpower wouldn’t have been diverted from Afghanistan, we might have actually caught Osama bin Laden.

“Also, your figures are greatly exaggerated.   “Tens of thousands” of Iraqi civillians have not been killed.  This is a baldfaced lie!   Get your figures straight!”

I never state anything as a fact unless I’ve researched it. If you have a problem with the numbers, take it up with the Administration whose invasion caused chaos in Iraq. You can also take it up with the Stars & Stripes (the military paper that reported on the death toll reaching 50,000 –, or with CNN, which reported that 14,000 of those deaths happened just this year (and the year’s only half over) –

  You call our presence “occupation”.  It’s true that some in the Sunni party wants us out (Of course!   They were benefitting from Saddam’s reign and living like kings.)  but the people of 3 ethnic groups who got saved from Saddam’s evil death plan do not consider our presence “occupation”.    They know that if we leave before the present administration is strengthened, they (and the Israelis) are all dead ducks, just as if Saddam were still ruling.”

    The definition of “occupation” (from something called a “Dictionary”):1. Invasion, conquest, and control of a nation or territory by foreign armed forces.2. The military government exercising control over an occupied nation or territory.”If you have a problem with that, don’t bother me with it, take it up with the good folks at Brittanica.

” (By the way, I suppose you have ignored all the news about  finding the more than 500 weapons of mass destruction, some with mustard gas, and some with sar  — (news which certain people have been trying to suppress for a couple of years.)   You liberals all owe the Bush administration an apology.   Wasn’t it kind of stupid to assume that Saddam had gotten rid of his WMD’s when we KNEW he had them during the gulf war?”

No, I didn’t ignore it. I did something called “paying attention,” which you may want to take a stab at some time. Those 500 “weapons of mass destruction” were pre Gulf War weapons that were useless, and that were disposed of exactly as we instructed Hussein to do in 1991 – by burying them deep in the desert. You’ve been suckered by Rick Santorum, who was so desperate to hold on to his Senate seat that he fabricated this WMD find. The Defense Department denied that these 500 shells were the WMD we were looking for, and went on to say that they could never be launched because they were already degraded and useless prior to our invasion.By the way, that’s the second time you’ve spewed “liberal,” as if it’s something bad. Do you even know what “liberal” means? Are you aware that our Constitution is a liberal document written by our liberal Founding Fathers, based on the liberal principles of the liberal Enlightenment? Anyone who believes in that Constitution – and in the separation of powers, separation of church and state, and Bill of Rights protections it enumerates – is a Liberal. 

The second fallacy of your fake comparison is that there is absolutely no proof that stem cells from embryos (which are tiny baby humans!) are superior to stem cells from the placenta (which is the tube connecting mother and baby when the baby is in the womb.)   The placenta cells can be harvested without killing anyone!!!!!  (This is because the placenta is discarded after the birth)  So there is no need to kill a baby human!!!!!  There should be no argument about this!   It is absolutely not necessary to kill baby humans!    And these are truly innocent, unlike some of the “civilians”.   Carol Barnes 

Again, your arguments would be taken more seriously if you were actually talking about something the cartoon said, rather than making up strawman arguments (look that up) to knock down. The cartoon doesn’t say embryonic stem cells are the only way, or even the best way. The cartoon is about the argument against embryonic stem cell research contrasted with the argument rationalizing the death of tens of thousands of civilians. The cartoon is about hypocrisy, and none of the red herring issues you’ve raised disputes what the cartoon actually said.And by the way, there is no proof that placentas provide stem cells that are as useful as those found in embryos. That’s not for you or I to say, that’s something only the scientists can determine – if only people such as yourself would allow them to do their work in peace. And NOBODY IS KILLING A BABY HUMAN. These are excess blastocysts that are going to be thrown away. Not a single one of them is ever going to be allowed to grow into a human, unless hundreds of thousands of Carols across the country volunteer to be inseminated with them and give birth to them….Have you done that, Carol?  

Calling all spinners — explain how Bush has “made us safer.”

There are times when being right makes you the happiest person in the world, and then there are the times it makes you crap your pants. Guess which one of those times this is. I want every angry, slogan-spouting flag-waiver who’s ever written in ordering me to “leave the President alone, he’s making us safer” to take a second, put down your copy of the National Review (the one with the Sean Hannity centerfold), and write to me again. Write to me and explain why our intelligence agencies now say the Iraq occupation has increased the threat of terror.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology. The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.More…

Vote and be deported

One reader wrote in to complain about today’s strip, which he’s absolutely, positively, “150% sure” is an example of Candorville “makeing up stuff all thu time!” (Since he was so creative with the spelling, I figured I’d leave it as it was). I was very surprised to learn that Mr. “Fuk off looser” (well, that’s how he signed his letter) hadn’t been paying attention to the news. Sadly there’s no need to “make stuff up” when real life has become stranger than fiction.

Channeling one’s inner loser

Not a week goes by that I don’t check my inbox and see a variation of the following question: “Mr. Bell/Darrin/Moron, how do you get the characters in ‘Candorville’ to seem so three-dimensional? I want to work long hours for 1970’s wages as a cartoonist someday, but my characters seem so flat and lifeless.”Here’s how you do it, kids: stay in school, read as much literature as you can get your hands on, and always cross at the crosswalk (I don’t know what that has to do with learning about character development, but it’s a good idea anyway).Other tricks: Pay attention to the people around you, and create backstories for them in your head. See a homeless person? Create a story about how he ended up that way. Not only will you be on the road toward developing three dimensional characters, but focusing on the plight of another human being helps you develop your “compassion muscle.” Unless, of course, you come up with some calvinist backstory about how the guy’s homeless because he deserves to be, which would be a pretty boring, two-dimensional story.Or you can take the easy way out, and simply channel your inner loser. Be critical of yourself. Have you done anything stupid that you wish nobody would ever know about? Don’t repress it deep in your subconscious, where it’ll fester until it eats some choice part of your soul. Don’t live in denial. Confess your loserness to the world. Not only will it keep your soul from being eaten, it’ll give you some quality character development.Case in point:Of course, for this strip I used option A. I would never do something like this in real life.•••

“Personal Attacks” Are So Very Entertaining

A reader just sent me this, in response to this week’s strips on Michael Steele’s “hip hop” makeover of the Republican National Committee. I post this because, of all the e-mails readers have sent about this week’s strips, this was the ONLY one that took issue with it. But I’m sure this reader isn’t the only one who felt that way, so to answer anyone else who shares his opinion, I thought I’d post both this reader’s e-mail and my response to him:

Mr. Bell,
You have an impressive ability to analyze life and point out the irony and humor therein, such as you did in the strip about credit limit and APR. However, when you use your strip as a soapbox to express your political views with personal attacks, the result is not clever, entertaining, or funny. I assume that you’re not interested in my political views and I’m not interested in yours.

You can do better. There are plenty of ox’s to be goared on both sides of the political aisle and you will gain a broader audience.
[Name Witheld],
Woodbridge, VA

…and my response…

“Mr. [Name Witheld],

I appreciate the compliment. I have to ask, though, are you a new Candorville reader? Your “both sides of the aisle” comment leads me to believe you may be. Just a few weeks ago, Candorville lampooned the Obama administration for an entire week, depicting the press secretary as a burning bush dispensing wisdom from on high. Months ago, during the primaries, it went after Hillary Clinton, depicting her as the last survivor of a doomed alien planet who came to earth with the power to become whomever she happens to be speaking to at the time.

I am interested in other people’s political views, and my strip is intended for people who enjoy politics and social commentary. If reaching a broader audience were my goal, I’d have created a strip about a talking cat or dog. Everyone loves talking cats and dogs. But I created Candorville as a vehicle to comment honestly about my view of the world, the people in it, and the individuals who run it. That’s what Candorville is. Candorville has never spared politicians, and there’s no way to lampoon politicians without someone considering it a personal attack. I disagree with you on that, by the way. To me, a personal attack would be, for instance, to go after Al Franken’s or Rush Limbaugh’s past drug use when that has nothing to do with the rest of us. Commentary on the actions, policies, and aspects of politicians’ personalities that DO affect us is not a personal attack, it’s fair game. Incidentally, the politicians themselves seem to agree with me. Often, when I give one of them the Michael Steele treatment, someone from their offices contacts me to ask for original artwork or frame-ready prints. That happened again just yesterday. I have to believe these people wouldn’t be hanging personal attacks on the walls of their offices. I know I wouldn’t.

And I have to take the “not clever, entertaining, or funny” part with a grain of salt. Over my 14 years as a cartoonist and an accompanying 14 years of reading fan-mail and hate-mail, I’ve learned one thing in particular: people rarely think satire is clever, entertaining or funny when they disagree with it. When they do agree, they often think it’s brilliant.

You might be interested to know I received my share of negative mail from people who work at banks. These people felt last Sunday’s credit limit/APR strip was hitting below the belt. They felt it was a highly personal attack. I’m fascinated by how some of the responses are practically *mirror images* of your e-mail, as if they were written by you in a parallel universe. Here’s a clip from one of those e-mails. I hope you find it as interesting as I do:

“Dear Mr. Bell,

I generally enjoy Candorville. I think you’ve got a great eye for hypocrisy in our leaders and a great talent for deflating our politicians’ egos. I’m getting a big kick out of this week’s Michael Steele series, and I loved what you did with John Edwards. But with all due respect, these personal attacks against the institutions that make our democracy possible (namely, banks) have got to stop. It’s unseemly, undignified, unfunny, and more than a little childish. It’s kindergarten name-calling, and if you’re looking to turn off your readers who believe in the capitalist system (i.e. most of America), you’re well on your way to doing just that.

I don’t call you up at home and tell you that I think cartoonists are evil and trying to wreck the country, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t show up on my doorstep every morning telling me that I’M responsible for other people’s reckless borrowing habits.

Keep up the good work (and when it’s good, it’s really good), and cut out the bad, if you want to keep me and the millions of other ‘capitalist pig’ Americans as readers.

[name witheld]
Direct Merchants Bank”

I think you can see, from all this, why I appreciate comments such as yours, but why I can’t let them influence what I do in my strip. Candorville is what it is. I can’t please everyone, and in fact, no matter WHAT I do (even inoccuous comics about aging), people tell me I’ve offended them. So the only way I know to do my job is to have my own standards, hold myself to my own standards, and write comics that I enjoy writing. If other people enjoy them, great. If not, well… that’s why there’s more than one comic strip on the comics page. There are a lot of other offerings on the comics page that would be more to their liking, and I encourage them to seek out those comics.

Thanks for reading Candorville, Mr. [Name Witheld], and especially for taking the time to write.

ATTN: DENVER readers! Keep Candorville in the Denver Post

The Denver Post will stop carrying Candorville as of March 1 unless readers write in and ask them to keep it. When the Rocky Mountain News went out of business, the Denver Post absorbed all the RMN’s comics, including Candorville. Now they’re dropping many of the former RMN comics, including Candorville, possibly to see which ones the readers miss. If you’re a Denver Post reader (and ONLY if you’re a Denver Post reader or Denver resident please) write to and politely ask them to keep Candorville. Tell them why they should keep it, and most importantly, give them location information (as specific as you’re comfortable with) so they know you live in Denver. They’re looking for your feedback, people, so give it to them. This is your chance to be heard.