An easy decision

An edit written in 2020: Culpa Mea

Look. Here's where I stand on evidence of past mistakes that lingers in the public sphere: 
    It's generally not a great look to try to remove them solely for the purpose of looking like a better person. But some of them—for example, the monuments and statues intended to honor America's lousiest, wrongest traitors—really ought to be destroyed; the mistakes they represent can be remembered and learned from in other, better ways. Ways that don't risk glorifying those mistakes.
    I bring this up because the comic posted on the 2nd of March, 2012 was a mistake. It wasn't merely unfunny (if failing to be funny counted as a mistake, I'd be in real trouble); it reflects a point of ignorance I held at the time, and it does so in a way that I can now see is pointlessly callous.
    I think (and hope) that it's not a particularly egregious mistake, that it's more "bad take" than "hurtful attack", but that's not necessarily mine to decide.
    Alright, specifics: it's a commentary on culture-dependent ideas of gender, one rooted in toxic masculinity (essentially, 'real men don't use umbrellas'), and the phrasing relies upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the nuances of gender and biological sex (assuming a 1:1 correspondence of 'having a Y chromosome' to 'man').
    That's it. That's the whole thing. A mistake, but hopefully not one that brought much harm to the world. Maybe it didn't merit a whole essay. But I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be in the ninth year of making this comic, what it means to get better, what it means to leave a public record. And I'm always thinking about the theory and practice of comedy (with its principles like 'punch up, not down').
    The comic is followed by text reading, "You are free to disagree, I guess." I don't remember writing that all those years ago, so I can't say for sure what I meant. I think it's likely I meant to say something to the effect of 'I'm not the arbiter of masculinity, I know, but come on? Umbrellas?' But it means something different and better to me now. Now I see it as an invitation across time, from me to myself: you are free to disagree with your old thoughts, opinions, ideas. It's a good sign! It means you're learning, getting better, willing to change.
    You can see the original comic after the break. I'm not erasing it or hiding it. But I'd recommend moving on to one of the other 3000+ comics I've posted at the time of writing this. A few of them are even kind of funny.

–Andrew Livingston


You are free to disagree, I guess.

Mental Health
The doctor was going through a premature mid-life crisis, but not the kind where one buys fancy cars and tries to listen to popular music. He was anxious and frustrated. In order to promote an overall feeling of despair in is waiting room, he replaced the aquarium with a snake cage, in which he placed a model of a human skull. And on the walls, he hung various renditions of The Scream

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