Newspapers across the country dropped the Dilbert comic strip over the weekend after its creator Scott Adams went on a racist tirade, calling Black Americans a “hate group” and suggesting that White people should “get the hell away” from them.
The Dilbert comic strip has been one of the go-to comic strips for geeks everywhere for decades. In it, Adams portrays the main character and his dog Dogbert as foils for the general incompetence and stupidity in corporate Amercia, and in IT departments specifically. There are a lot of computer science professionals in geekdom, and they felt seen and represented by Adams’ work. All of that collapses as of now.
The USA Today Network, which operates hundreds of newspapers, said it had pulled the plug on the long-running comic strip. The Washington Post and The Plain Dealer also in Cleveland said they would no longer carry the comic. More critically, the distributor of Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” comic strip, Andrews McMeel Universal, announced Sunday it was severing ties with the cartoonist. This effectively pulls the plug from any possible distribution moving forward, as Adams will be hard pressed to find another distributor.
All these dominoes started to fall after Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind “Dilbert,” effectively encouraged segregation in a shocking rant on YouTube. His comments came in response to a poll from the conservative firm Rasmussen Reports that said 53% of Black Americans agreed with the statement, “It’s OK to be White.” The Anti-Defamation League notes that the phrase emerged on the infamous message board 4chan in 2017 as a trolling campaign and has a “long history” in the white supremacist movement.
“If nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with White people – according to this poll, not according to me, according to this poll – that’s a hate group,” Adams said Wednesday on his YouTube show Real Coffee with Scott Adams. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them,” he continued. “And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people, just get the f**k away … because there is no fixing this.”
In a damage control effort, Adams has since said on Twitter that he was only “advising people to avoid hate” and suggested that the cancellation of his cartoon signals that free speech in America is under assault. He also mentioned his cartoon show being cancelled for similar reasons, though the real reason was that it just wasn’t holding an audience.
The newspapers cutting the comic strip from their catalog, though, are not taking this stance, Instead, they’re making very rapid, very public responses to the outpouring of hate speech from Adams. Apparently even tacitly supporting the speech of somebody who targets a specific group is a toxic stance (just ask J.K. Rowling).
“Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, went on a racist rant this week … and we will no longer carry his comic strip in The Plain Dealer,” wrote Chris Quinn, editor of the paper. “This is not a difficult decision.”
“We are not a home for those who espouse racism,” Quinn added. “We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support.”
The Washington Post has also also pulled the comic strip from the newspaper.
“In light of Scott Adams’s recent statements promoting segregation, The Washington Post has ceased publication of the Dilbert comic strip,” it said.
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