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A little early.

I posted the new strip a several hours early for a few reasons.

I wanted to test to make sure the site's still working properly ... it is.

I wanted to put the last strip behind me. It's part of the comic now, and I'm not going to strike it from the record, but I'm certainly ready to move on. I don't think I'm alone in that.

I'm working late tonight and don't want to try to update the strip while half asleep.

Thanks to all of you for your patience and understanding during the last few weeks. And a special thanks to those who have leapt to my defense. I really appreciate it.

Reader Comments (23)

Whenever I see one of these dust-ups about a comic, it makes me realize that my sense of moral outrage is worn out. If I tilt my head sideways and squint, I can sort of understand why people are upset. I never anticipate the controversy on first seeing the art in question. Nothing against people who are sincerely offended.

I don't know you personally. I only know your work. Based on your work, I would never read an ambiguity in a negative way. It's simply not consistent with the rest of your work.

My reaction to most of your strips is, "I know that guy!" (Except in the case of "How to Prevail in a Battle of Wills" where my reaction was, "That's what marriage is really like!") I'd write comments to that effect on every strip, but it would bore everyone, so just assume that's my approving reaction every time.

Thanks for all you do.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKurt Shoens

As Bill Waterson said "There always will be people offended". It was about the strip where Calvin dreams of bombing his school with a F-14.
The last two strips were great ... though I do find the last one a bit insulting regarding people who suffered from brain damage :p

Anyways keep up the good work — you're among the very best.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercstar

I'm sorry that the vocal super-minority has soured it a bit for you. I thought it was funny. I agree with Kurt - I don't comment here much, it's more of a "silent approval" deal - I suspect the vast majority of your readers are in the same category. And as he says, based on your record, I'd generally give you the benefit of the doubt if there's any ambiguity. The comic's always been a little bit "edgy" anyway, that's one reason I like it. I mean look at the implied violence in the freaking banner of the site! You pander to the vocal few on one issue, before long they'll be whining about everything else.

People are just looking for something to be upset about. You'll probably get used to ignoring them, eventually. Meanwhile, the rest of us love your work. Keep it up!

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSho

"Edgy"? I think one of the charms of BI is its innocence.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercsrster

I'm a silent approver too! I was reading this blog post and had to search out the last comic and read the comments any controversy had gone right over my head. Keep doing what you're doing, the comic is really funny.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuddy

The point was not people trying to be offended, and it's not a vocal minority/sensible majority thing either. This is a case where a cartoon contained a possible reading that--contrary to Scott's intentions and ultimately through no fault of his--was offensive some and even hurtful to a few. (Even if only one person is upset by a scene that seems to make light of a date-rape, it doesn't make that person a pedantic killjoy for complaining about it. It helps us all to be more sensitive. Scott obviously gets that.) It isn't about giving Scott the benefit of the doubt either; I don't think anyone's suggested that he was an ass or that he condoned rape.

Personally? I found that particularly scene a little tasteless, and not terribly funny (but the two were unconnected, just the "get off" pun was more strained than usual), but it didn't occur to me that it would be potentially offensive at the time. I see that now, and while it would be crass of me to blame Scott for not spotting something that I didn't spot either, I think it's also unfair to denigrate anyone who does point out the dodgy side of it.

Scott, you've handled this perfectly. I'm sorry this was a painful experience, but it's probably unavoidable and you've learned from it more gracefuly than most (and more than some of your commenters). Thanks. I've learned from it too (and to less personal discomfort).

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDjibril

After my last comment, I look like an insensitive jerk. I totally am, so that worked out fine. And this new comic is great, because my coworkers and myself are always bitching about the working conditions...

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBuddy13

Djibril,

Here here. And sorry once again everybody for being one of the overly sensitive people!

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEarlofthercs

If I'm not mistaken, Gary Larson had a similar episode of reader outrage with one of his cartoons, which seemingly depicted a dog going at it with a car. That wasn't Larson's intention, of course, but it just goes to show that half of the difficulty is avoiding misconceptions.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFerrumFatum

After being censored I am also feeling ... sensitive :P (rofl)

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesc

Oh, for Chrissake--

If you're not offending SOMEBODY, you're not doing your job! Stop reading criticism as if your critics actually know anything. If they knew something, you'd be reading their comics.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIrritated_Prof

Scott,

I'd like to express my own outrage, directed solely at Kurt Shoens. As the first commenter in this thread, he wrote pretty much exactly what I was thinking about this scenario, only he did it first, and perhaps even a little more eloquently than I would have. For that, he's an ass. (Although, as the outlet of my completely righteous indignation, I have to laud him at least a little.)

Here's to controversy. Love it.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Alas, I too, must apologize for my insentive comments about what constitute rape. I kinda went overboard when it was even brought up, because I just didn't see it in the comic. (still don't) Anyways I was just trying to rattle a few cages. Please remember that most of my comments posted in the forums do not actually reflect my true opinions or attitudes regarding such matters. For those I intend to keep all to myself because it's just nobody else's business.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJames Yeamans

I had to go back to re-read the comic to try to understand the complaints. I took it like I think Scott intended, that the boss was so clueless he didn't get what the girlfriend was trying to say.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChad

I also don't comment here much (at all). I also read the comic in question as it was intended without seeing any other possible meaning. And I also really love Basic Instructions. And I kept this post "unread" in my feedreader for three days to remind me to come on here and say so. Keep up the great work!

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThomas David Baker

For all the people saying "well I read it the way the artist intended it", that's great. However, don't you think that since many readers did interpret it in a different way, and they all interpreted it as depicting an act of rape, that perhaps the comic was clumsily executed at best? The attitude of "well I didn't read it that way, everyone that read it that way is overreacting/oversensitive"...I feel that's a rather dismissive and close-minded attitude. I'm going to keep reading the comic, I think there's some good strips Scott has done. But acting like his strips are beyond criticism or that other people are crazy for reading it a different way...that's just unfortunate.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterruvane

It's a shame to completely put the comic behind you. It leaves a wide opening for one along the lines of 'How to apologise for an unintentionally offensive webcomic.'

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterangrymonkey

Djibril,

Not to start controversy over how you should handle controversy (that would be a bit too much irony this early in the morning), but I'd have to disagree with you slightly (and just slightly). You are correct that it doesn't make someone a "pedantic killjoy" for being upset. However, as Kurt said, such a reading is clearly outside the purview of Scott's normal fare. As you say, "it's not about giving Scott the benefit of the doubt." It's about being what we call in literature classes an "intelligent reader." BE CLEAR that I'm NOT IN ANY WAY saying that such a reading is unintelligent or that people who saw it that way are stupid or something. DO NOT flame me for saying that. Hear me out. Ok?

It's not a great phrasing, but it is what I've heard it called (either that or "good reader," which has the same insulting connotations). The point is that, as a reader, you have to practice good hermeneutics (reading practices). This means taking a word in light of the sentence, the sentence in light of the local context (in this case the panel), the panel in light of the whole strip, and the strip in light of the entire body of work. This prevents misreadings and misinterpretations of single lines.

So, my point is, should we blame Scott for other people's misreading of what should, by the context of the body of work, clearly NOT be interpreted as a rape scene? No, we shouldn't. Should Scott feel obligated every time someone grossly misreads a panel to publicly respond to it? No. Perhaps the response was so great that Scott feared wide-spread misinterpretation. I don't know, but I would hate for him to have to do that every time. He'd spend have his time apologizing.

-fish

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthe infamous fish

The people who take these things so seriously and just HAVE to complain about every perceived "outrage" are just loony. They'll find any little excuse to whine, and you shouldn't let them cause you any stress -- just ignore them! Your comic is definitely the cleanest of all those in my bookmarks, and I can't believe anyone thought you were trying to make a joke about rape.

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRaptor007

Angrymonkey, Scott never apologized, as such; he only explained his reasoning.

The infamous fish, I don't think anyone believes that Scott intended to make a, quote, "rape joke." I agree that such a thing would be outside the usual tone of his comics. But his intentions - like Mullet-man's intentions, interestingly enough - are not what the discussion is about. A careful reading of the dissenting comments on the various threads would tell you that. It's about a generalized societal acceptance for, and epidemic of, what some some call "gray rape." For more details, please see my recent comments on the original comic thread.

Raptor007, much as I enjoy imagining a velociraptor who shakes but does not stir his victims before consuming them, dismissing women as "whiny" or "loony" has a long historical tradition. I suggest you read up on that. Perhaps you might start here: http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/madness.shtml

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHazel

Hazel, I fear your eloquent words fall on deaf ears.

September 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterruvane

If anyone ever complains about the content of your comics - send them to explosm.net to check out Cyanide and Hapiness. They can spend the rest of their existence bitching to those guys - who are ACTUALLY rude vulgar and just plain wrong.
Your Comics are awesome Scott, and so are Cyanide in Happiness - but in very different ways..

September 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel

I am sorry that this hub-bub happened to you. In high school, I dressed up for "spirit day" as a senior. The senior color was black, so I dressed up head to toe in black, including painting my face. It did not cross my mind that it could be construed as "black face", and me as a racist. I found the whole think hurtful, but it was not in front of many, many readers. Just because someone misinterprets a costume or a cartoon, it does not make the misinterpretation true. Context people, context. And, I did not read your cartoon as a rape situation.

September 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

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