I remember reading once that Buddhism is the only major religion that embraces humor – often of the slapstick variety – as a method of instruction in its principles. As one such story goes, a master was seated under a tree when a pupil, whom he had not seen in several years, approached and addressed him. "Master," said the pupil, "since the last time I was in your presence, I have traveled far and wide. I have met and talked with people of all walks and stations of life – kings and princes, farmers and merchants, old and young, paupers and thieves. And not once did I strike any of them with my staff."
To which the master replied, "That proves your staff is too short."
I really don't know if it's the only religion with a sense of humor. Louis Untermeyer edited an anthology on humor which teed up a few stories from the Old Testiment which he evidently thought were knee-slappers, but they left me with kind of a dry taste in my mouth. Most people I know have at least a handful of "a rabbi, a priest, and a minister are walking down the street" jokes, although I confess I'm not aware of any in which the Protestant gets the punchline. (If you know of any, please share.) Are some religions better at making – and taking – a joke?
I am saddened and angered at the murder of the artists and staff at Charlie Hebdo, by assassins who – let's put this plainly – cannot take a joke. They obviously don't represent most Muslims, or Islam. And only someone spoiling for another war in the Middle East fought by someone else's family members thinks otherwise. But, to repeat, no sense of humor.
As for the question of who represents whom, a lot of people this week proclaimed they were Charlie. In fact, pointless NYTimes columnist David Brooks says we are all Charlie Hebdo, except for those of us who are not.
If pressed, I'd prefer to go with #JeSuisAhmed, the cop who died defending the French satirists although, despite my preference for free speech over the right to shoot people who offend your religion, I know I'm still too much a bystander to play the "I am Spartacus" card.
But, as more than one artists points out this week, the American answer to turbulent (or any other sort of) political/editorial cartoonist is too often simply to give them their severance package (if they have one coming) and let them hope for the best in syndication. (See the p3 Iron Cross awards, below.) In point of fact, that's why Tom Tomorrow, Keith Knight, Tom the Dancing Bug, Mark Fiore, and Berke Breathed became regulars here at p3, although they didn't really need the insignificant boost: They were regulars at Salon.com before they got handed the mitten around 2010 in favor of the new editorial policy more tilted toward click bait.
Most of the cartoonists I follow played off the pen/sword trope (generally without giving credit to Bulwer Lytton). There were so many working the same small cluster of themes that the p3 Certificate for Harmonic Toon Convergence has been suspended this week. So most of them didn't make the cut, unless they did something surprising or unusual with the theme (for example, Pat Bagley). For an unfiltered roll call of Charlie Hebdo-themed cartoons, start with Cagle Toons. There are more, and the links are below.
And as the more locally-minded may have noticed, the Republican majorities used their first day in power to go after choice, dignity in retirement, and any attempt to stop Wall Street thimble-rigging. We'll get to that, too.
And we'll even note the awkward fact that a broken-window strike by the NYPD may be the best thing that's happened to the city in years, except for the shake-down revenue the city is currently doing without.
Today's toons were carefully selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons, About.com, The Nib, and other fine sources of cartoon goodness.
p3 Picks of the week: Mike Luckovich, Nick Anderson, Robert Ariail, Mike Keefe, Lisa Benson, Chris Britt, Stuart Carlson, Daryl Cagle, Joe Heller, Matt Wuerker, and Monte Wolverton.
p3 Best of Show: Jeff Danziger.
p3 Legion of Merit: Jen Sorenson.
p3 Medal for Taking Something Terribly Important But Wonky and Putting It Into a Metaphor That Most People Will Get: Tom Toles.
p3 World Toon Review: I'm going to draft behind CNN International and Euronews.com on this one. (This might also be a good time to scroll down to the Comic Strip of the Day link, below. You can always scroll back up here when you're done.) Update: Also too, here's Yastreblyansky's review, and his French is much better than mine. I bet he's never ever been served a deep-fried telephone directory in a French restaurant.)
Ann Telnaes relishes the thought of retaliation.
Mark Fiore meditates on free speech as the answer to terrorism.
Tom Tomorrow warns: Don't make Officer Baby mad!
Keith Knight muses upon the various senses of whip.
Tom the Dancing Bug asks a fair question: What if America had had cable news in 1860? The answer isn't good.
Red Meat's Ted Johnson contemplates the complex interplay of light and shadow.
The Comic Strip Curmudgeon feels like something of a scold.
Comic Strip of the Day explains the stylistic and rhetorical differences between European and American political cartoons, and finishes up with a wonderful defense of the indefensible. Heh.
Fifty-fifty! Heh! Bluto grabs the treasure map and gets a head start on Popeye. That's probably most of what you need to know about "Dizzy Divers," directed in 1935 by Dave Fleischer (and, uncredited, Willard Bowsky). Uncredited voice work by Billy Costello (Popeye), Gus Wickie (Bluto) and Bonnie Poe (The Slender One). Watch for the diving helmet custom-fitted for Popeye's chin. In spectacular 2-D and gorgeous monochrome.
The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Threw Out The Rulebook and Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:
Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman looks at the last word.
Likely Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen goes all one-hand/other-hand.
Matt Bors looks at the NYPD teaching us a lesson.
Jesse Springer stands with his colleagues.
Test your toon captioning powers at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.
The p3 Sunday Comics Read-Along: Pearls Before Swine, Doonesbury, Rhymes with Orange, Zits, Adam @ Home, Mutts, Over the Hedge, Get Fuzzy, Prince Valiant, Blondie, Bizarro, Mother Goose & Grimm, Rose is Rose, Luann, Hagar the Horrible, Pickles, Rubes, Grand Avenue, Freshly Squeezed, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, and Jumble.