Scott Adams, humor, and rights
1 April 2011
You’re a labelass if you call Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) a sexist. Or so I have learned from reading his blog. With arguments like that, suddenly he seems pretty unfunny — but to be fair, he’s in defensive mode because of the shitstorm that resulted when he held forth in a blog post in early March about women’s and men’s rights, prompting him to first delete the whole post and then re-post it with interpretive assistance for us slow types. Here’s what he said the first time:
Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:
Get over it, you bunch of pussies.
The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.
Confused? Starting to wonder if he’s, well, kind of a pig? That’s because he’s being funny! Which I also learned from his blog. I also learned that I can’t understand how funny it is because I’m reading this out of context:
So why’d I pull down the post? That question is more interesting than you might think. And there’s a fascinating lesson in all of this about the power of context.
The short answer is that I write material for a specific sort of audience. And when the piece on Men’s Rights drew too much attention from outside my normal reading circle, it changed the meaning. Communication becomes distorted when you take it out of context, even if you don’t change a word of the text. I image that you are dubious about this. It’s hard to believe this sort of thing if you don’t write for a living and see how often it happens. I’ll explain.
My poor lady brain is finally starting to get a glimpse of truth here. He is so much smarter than I am! To sum it up for you half-witted types out there, even the fact that I’m excerpting from the full blog post is messing up how funny and smart it is! It’s so hard to be funny if readers come to your blog from outside the “normal reading circle.”
In contrast, it is totally not funny or right that he, Scott Adams, was punished for being male and white. His bosses way back in the day told him explicitly that they would not promote him, even though he was the most qualified candidate, because they had to push ahead some of those damn women and people of color. That is not funny. That is so wrong. It’s so different from, for example, the unqualified women workers behind the Wal-Mart class-action suit:
I saw an interview the other day with the woman who is the lead plaintiff for the class action suit against WalMart. Her complaint is that WalMart discriminated against her for being a woman. The thing that fascinated me is that somehow she managed to discern that the discrimination she experienced was because of her gender and not the fact that she’s also obese, unattractive, and African-American. Based on the interview, she also seems to have a sketchy command of grammar. I couldn’t judge her height or personality, but those are two more factors that have a big impact on career advancement.
Gender bias is so tricky, you see. No matter that this woman is only one of 1.5 million female employees of WalMart behind this suit, and that it “includes every woman employed for any period of time over the past decade, in any of Walmart’s approximately 3,400 separately managed stores, 41 regions and 400 districts, and who held positions in any of approximately 53 departments and 170 different job classifications,” as their legal documents state. If one of them is obese, unattractive, grammar-challenged, and African American, then Scott Adams hates to break it to her, but she was probably discriminated against for other reasons! You see how much more clever the male brain is?
Scott Adams is now making it up to us by ending every single blog post with a “if you feel offended by this, I apologize” statement, all of which sound totally heartfelt. Or is he being funny? How can I tell the difference? Oh, my lady brain hurts. Here’s how he concluded his explanation of the Men’s Rights/women are like children and mentally handicapped people post:
To the best of my knowledge, no one who understood the original post and its context was offended by it. But to the women who were offended by their own or someone else’s interpretation of what I wrote, I apologize. To the men who were offended by my mocking of Men’s Rights, you’re still a big bunch of pussies. But your criticisms of the legal system are worthy of attention. Even Feminists agree on that point.
Thank you for making my week so interesting.
Back at ya, Scott Adams! You are so funny and smart! And I have SO learned my lesson: leave the thinkin’ to the smart men, who can also be funny in whatever way they want.