The late cartoonist, Al Capp, began publishing his beloved satirical comic strip, Li’l Abner, in 1909. It was a syndicated strip, running in hundreds of newspapers across the nation 5-days a week. I began reading it in 1956—I was 15 at the time—and never missed a single edition until it drew its final breath in 1979.
Despite a couple of entertaining musicals based on his comic strip and its fictional location of Dogpatch, USA, the name Al Capp probably fails to register with people under the age of about 45-years.
I’m not going to revise and explain the strip here. Just Google “Al Capp” or “Li’l Abner” (without the quotes) and check it out for yourselves. In fact, here’s a link to get you started if you’re interested.
Saying that Al Capp was a Conservative is a gross understatement. His political views were mildly apparent from the strip’s start, rising to the level of PATENTLY obvious over the last ten-years of its life.
But, this isn’t the point here. Please note, if you’ve bothered to look, how he nailed the social, political, and economic hypocrisies of that era right on their proverbial heads.
And note that as you fast-forward to today, only some (but light-years from ALL) of the issues have changed. But the rhetoric has not; only the mode, velocity, and vulgar demeanor of delivering it have changed.
Back in the late ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s most of the nation’s discontent came from our college and university campuses. Students by the hundreds of thousands picketed and raised hell about everything.
The Viet Nam War was a major point of contention that boiled over to the point of some of them dying at the hands of the National Guard. Every social tick, no matter how minor, became a major social crime perpetrated by the “Establishment.” Mr. Capp gave them a name: SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything).
Today, however, our university campuses are relatively quiet. Even with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going into their ninth year, not much by way of protest is happening.
Neither do they seem at all concerned about the “Establishment” taking over their world. Homosexuality is not an issue with the kids of today. For some, abortion is an issue but they’ve decided to deal with it intelligently. For most of them, same sex marriage isn’t worth the effort it takes to worry about it.
SWINE, it seems, is no longer a viable force. So, I’ve decided to retire it and replace it with an even more insidious, modern day crowd that I’ll dub: DOPA (Dogmatic Order of the Professionally Aggrieved).
It does not matter what people do or say nowadays; it’s going to upset SOMEBODY. And the rest of us will hear about it via the cable 24-hour news channels and through national or local talk radio.
And, even in those increasingly rare instances where SOME people have a valid point, it’s no longer enough to win it; others MUST lose. But, like it or not, folks, all things do NOT deserve equal time and consideration in the chamber of rationalism.
For example, UFOs are unidentified flying objects. They are facts until we can eventually identify them. Then, they’re no longer UFOs.
It’s rational to report them, especially when highly trained pilots and other scientific observers with advanced science degrees report them.
However, assuming that they’re space ships carrying little green space aliens with large oval-shaped eyes across millions of light-years to snatch some humans to use as intergalactic experimentation is NOT!
But, the UFO sightings may garner a cursory report on the nightly news. The space ship speculation involving green spacemen kidnapping humans for scientific fun and games, however, will permeate TV and radio primetime for weeks.
Meanwhile, 40-million people, including tens of thousands of children do not have ANY healthcare coverage. And, there are probably millions more with too little of it.
Oh and how about them queers… wantin’ to get married and all! Don’t the homosexuals know that “it’s unnatural; it’s inherently evil; it’s a moral atrocity; it’s destroying the nation’s family structure; and it’s an abomination before God?”
Personally, I’m not qualified to evaluate this stuff, especially since I cannot, for the life of me, recall the precise day and time that I “DECIDED” to be heterosexual.
The fact is that I may even have been drunk at the time because I can’t remember whether I had sex with a man first and then with a woman or whether it was the reverse. I mean, how else can people make such a decision?
Sadly, though, reports about boys kissing boys, girls kissing girls, and gay Teletubbies (thanks to the late Jerry Falwell’s report on Tinky Winky) end up trumping the ones involving human starvation, ethnic cleansing, blatant racism, and myriad legitimate problems that warrant our urgent attention.
Many people seem obsessed with the insignificant garbage at the expense of overlooking what is truly significant.
I have an annual subscription bill that is larger than what some people are able to spend on a simple vacation.
Not including those just-for-the-articles female anatomy magazines that I used to get when I was younger… MUCH younger, I subscribe to a slew of news publications: Time, Newsweek, The World, The Economist, The Week, Mother Jones, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Science Journal.
But, there was a letter to the editor in the hard copy of Newsweek’s December 7 issue that I could not pass up. It was from a concerned mother by the name of Ruth Brewster.
Since the current hard-copy of Newsweek won’t appear on its web site for another week or so, I am reproducing the letter, verbatim, below.
THE BLAH-BLAH OF GAGA
Why couldn’t you use a photo of Lady Gaga without her nipple showing? My 14-year-old son reads this magazine and, fortunately, I grabbed it first. I’m disappointed in your judgment.
Ruth Brewster (I’m not naming her location)
And, so you can judge for yourselves, here is a link to the referenced article as well as the image of Lady Gaga.
For the record, especially incase Ms. Brewster reads this, I am not criticizing her. I have no doubts that she is a very dedicated, concerned, conscientious, and excellent parent.
And, I base my lack of doubts on the notion that she’s raised a son to the age of fourteen that actually reads NEWSWEEK! I think this is fantastic.
Trust me, Ms Brewster, many of his contemporaries read much less erudite stuff, IF they’re reading anything at all.
As stated, I read every issue of Newsweek. The Blah-Blah of Gaga was no exception. But, I have to admit that I completely missed the nipple. But, I’m old and my female nipple meter is not as sensitive as it once was.
And, it MOST certainly cannot compete with that of a healthy, well-adjusted 14-year-old boy’s!
However, Ms. Brewster, I think you’re worrying needlessly. I even tested my hypothesis. I had my neighbor’s 18-year-old MALE grandson—suspected of possessing nipple-spotting ability from as far as 100-yards—view that image on my HD, 21-inch color monitor. Here’s what happened.
Me: Eric, look at this picture of Lady Gaga and tell me what you see.
Eric: Lady Gaga in a hot outfit.
Me: You don’t see her nipple?
At this point, Eric moved his face to within about 4-inches of the monitor and then pulled back.
Eric: Oh yes, I see it. Wow, you have to look real close, though.
Me: How does it make you feel?
Eric: What do you mean? It’s just a digital image… probably doctored-up.
Me: Thanks for your input, Eric; say hi to your mom for me.
As he walked away, he wasn’t walking funny or anything. He didn’t seem fazed at all. His eyes weren’t glazing over or anything like that.
Eric will be a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania this coming spring semester. He’s a bright young man. He’s going to major in Physics. He also gorges himself on magazines like Time and Newsweek.
Your son is much younger than Eric is, but he’s already shown signs of superior intellectual curiosity: he reads NEWSWEEK… at 14-years of age. You should be proud.
And, RELAX! He probably won’t turn to a life a sexual depravity, even if he had actually seen that nipple.
Not to be an alarmist, but having been a precocious 14-year-old myself, I feel reasonably certain that he’s already seen much more than a female nipple.
I know I found ways of doing so and the 14-year-olds of my generation did NOT have the Internet videos and iphones to help us in the quest. We had to invent very imaginative ways of acquiring “dirty” magazines from our local drugstores and neighborhood barbershops.
Folks, we have tons of serious issues in this country. We have to stop giving the media the impression that we’re so shallow that insignificance is important to us. But, until we do, insignificance is about all we’re going to get!
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.