Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 12/12/01

Artist's Statement

I gave careful thought to what the very funniest scenario would be to illustrate this sentiment. I considered hurling virgins into volcanoes, burning witches, the Inquisition, the bloodbath of the French Revolution with the tumbrels and guillotines--history offers thousands of examples of all mass institutional insanity to choose from. But in the end, of course, Aztec human sacrifice was clearly the funniest, because it was so highly ritualized and deeply irrational. I had to look up the Aztecs online, because I wasn't sure exactly how to draw their clothes and adornments, and yes, needless to say, there is indeed an Aztec home page. I also ran a search for "human sacrifice," which is now irrevocably locked into my hard drive's history for the F.B.I. to find when they inevitably ransack it for all my tawdry little secrets. So all the costumes and accessories in this tableau are muy autentico--the sacrificial mask, the stone knife, the chacmool, etc. A chacmool, for those of you not up on your religious studies, is the reclining statue to the left of the high priest; you place freshly gouged-out human hearts on the flattened area of figure's abdomen as an offering to the gods. See, you came here for some cheap yuks and you ended up learning something.

So before all you readers of Aztec descent or those who may practice human sacrifice as an integral part of legitimate Native American spiritual observances write any outraged e-mails and letters-to-the-editor, let me hasten to say that this is not a cartoon about the historical excesses of the Aztec religion, for which I have only the deepest respect. It actually has more to do with John Ashcroft's arrogant, bullying attempt to gag any dissent in this country in the "answers" he gave before the congress last week. Basically he tried to brand anyone who even timidly raises a hand to ask a polite question about his policies as a traitor. (See Louis "I am the State" XIV.) I was listening to this world-class asshole on the radio, my mind sort of wandered, one thing led to another, and suddenly there I was online looking up pictures of people's hearts getting torn out.

It always cracks me up when I hear this argument used to defend the American government against criticism--I mean "cracks me up" figuratively, in the sense that it infuriates and depresses me. For one thing, if this system--a government bought, elected by, and answerable only to amoral corporations--is the best one there is, well, God help the human race. But even if it were, what, that means we shouldn't try to think up a better one? We should all just shut our yaps and be thankful there's a Starbuck's on every corner and naked ladies on the internet? As far as I'm concerned this argument is just a slightly higher-diction version of the old redneck standby, "You don't like it, whyn'tcha move to Russia." In fact I've been thinking of doing  another cartoon similar to this one, with a thief about to get his hand chopped off in like Iran or Saudi Arabia, and the executioner threatening him, "If you don't like it, maybe you'd like to move to America."