Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Frequently Asked Questions About
1a. and 1b.) What are you, some
kind of (a) pro-slavery racist (b) animal-rights-hating asshole?
Oh my goodness no. No no no no no.
No. I'm not equating slavery to pet-owning, or implying that that slavery
was as harmless as owning pets--or even, necesarily, that owning pets is harmless.
All I'm pointing out in this cartoon is the somewhat random and unpredictable
nature of moral trends. (Did I say moral trends? What am I, suggesting
that morality is relative, rather than absolute--a matter of mere fashion?
Well, no, no, not really. I mean sort of, I guess, yes. Yes.) And it's
impossible to predict what the moral standards of the future are going to
be and try to live up to those. Who knows what future generations will condemn
us for? Owning pets? Eating meat? Driving cars? Having babies?
I don't want to get into a while big thing here. Well, I guess I'm already
into one. Shit. Look, I'm not saying that morality is relative, so whatever,
man. I realize that there there are plenty of people today who are holding
themselves up to what they imagine the moral standards of the future ought
to be, fighting for good causes that now seem fringy and hopeless--animal
rights, reparations for slavery, the abolition of corporations--just as there
were plenty of people who opposed slavery for hundreds of yers before it was
actually abolished. I'm trying to do this myself in my own paltry impotent
little way. It just seems arrogant and hypocritical of us to assume
that people of a hundred or two hundred years ago were somehow morally inferior
to us. Because let's not forget that the Abolitionists were a vocal minority,
a fringe group, considered a bunch of fanatics and wack-jobs by the majority
of responsible people, who, like most of us, went about their business and
didn't really care about politics and figured that the way things were was
probably about as good as they could get and making a fuss wasn't going to
change anything. Maybe they disapproved of slavery in the abstract but it
didn't really affect them, and what could they do about it, anyway? So let's
not get on our High Horse.
For the record, I do own a pet, a cat which I call the Quetzal and treat with
creepy doting affection.
2.) Except but why is that little
boy wearing S&M gear? Like, what are you, some sort of pervert?
Ha ha, oh my land no of course not. I was just trying to imagine what outlandish
fashions children might wear fifty years from now. I considered the usual
little spacesuit with the clear plastic helmet and those art deco flared discs
around the shoulders, but the funniest idea I came up with--well, actually,
I believe maybe my girlfriend Allison came up with it--was that they'd wear
leather. If you think about it, it's only an extrapolation from the increasingly
sluttly fashions that prepubescent girls are wearing in imitation of various
pop stars these days. At the moment it's the girls who are sex objects in
our culture, but that can change. Young boys have been eroticized in lots
of societies. And homosexual culture is a pervasive influence on the tastes
and styles of mainstream American culture. So who knows? Fifty years from
now maybe you'll be ranting about decency and shame while your own kids shrug
and roll their eyes as they buy cock rings and dog collars for your eight-year-old
grandson, explaining that all the other kids are wearing them and they don't
really mean anything anymore, it's just a fad, so why not?
If you want to get pretentious about it, which it seems like I usually want
to, the boy's dress also further complicates the cartoon's central issue,
which is about fluctuating cultural (and moral) norms. It's extremely hard
to predict trends (much less something as arbitrary as fashions) but the one
thing we do know for sure about the future is: we're going to hate it.