Not particularly a Garfield fan, meaning neither the corpulent comic kitty or the ill-starred president, but I did take note of the odd flap the other day over a comic strip that had the misfortune of fortuitous publication on Veterans Day.
And please understand that my use of the word “fortuitous” is done with the technical meaning in mind – accidental, happening by chance – rather than the widespread but nonetheless incorrect usage in modern times where the word is conflated with fortunate.
The distinction may seem arcane, but in this instance it isn’t, since the ostensibly offending Garfield comic strip accidentally ran in the 2,500 plus newspapers on one of the holidays we observe in this country with some genuine solemnity.
Seems the strip in question has the irascible feline toying with squishing a spider when the imperiled Arachnid exclaims that if he’s killed “they will hold a national day of remembrance in my honor.”
On the next panel, a spider-teacher (I remember a few of those) asks the class if they understand the origin of “National Stupid Day.”
And for the sheer coincidence of this being scheduled to run on Veterans Day, famed Garfield creator Jim Davis ends up issuing an apology that painstakingly pointed out what should have been obvious to any sentient human being: the reference had nothing to do with Veterans Day.
That qualifier “sentient” is the point of the matter. Everything we do in the public arena has to be dumbed down to conform comfortably with the tastes and truncated intellect of a numbskull.
I’m not picking on Davis, who merely did what was required of the keeper of a multimillion-dollar enterprise, but rather I lament the fact that because of our preoccupation with placating the fears and misgivings of the most intellectually challenged among us, we all end up behaving like idiots.
The American Legion, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., just a whoop and a holler away from Garfield’s metaphorical litter box in Muncie, quickly sent forth an adroit spokesman who said quite succinctly what should have been the prevailing dictum in the first place: an apology wasn’t necessary.
I’m not even sure who I am mad at here. Maybe just the day and age we live in. I’d have liked it a lot better if Davis could have called a press conference and said something more grown up, like maybe, “I won’t apologize, since I had no role in what took place (the timing of the publication).” He had submitted the panel to the syndicate more than six months earlier.
But I understand he had to go the extra mile and point out how sorry he was about something that might have offended the most feeble-minded among us.