Anything can be a point of pride. Your local baseball team. The weather. Political corruption.
The genesis of Thursday's cartoon is a barroom argument I found myself having at least 20 years ago with a Chicagoan. "The Illinois state Legislature," he stated confidently, "is the most corrupt in the country." I made cases for my home state of Ohio and my adopted home of New York. Overhearing us, a third man approached, loaded for bear, to make clear that anyone who challenged
There was never any doubt that this week's piece would be about
"[Yee] held press conferences denouncing violent video games and helped pass legislation in California prohibiting sales of such games to minors. And yet, secretly, he was living the life of a Grand Theft Auto character," Scott Shackford writes in Reason. Me, I thought Walter White from "Breaking Bad." Whatever. Hand slaps forehead, jaw drops.
But how do you cartoon a story whose central character is itself a cartoon? Exaggeration isn't possible; it's already too extreme.
You can go with straightforward editorializing. "Isn't it just awful." "One more reason people don't trust politicians." "What a hypocrite." Trouble is, the ball-peen-hammer-to-the skull approach disproves the cliche that "it's funny because it's true." It's true — Yee's alleged misdeeds are awful and do nothing to help citizens feel good about government — but it's not funny. Nor interesting.
Instead I approached this story through the back door. Inspired by having recently watched the finale of "Breaking Bad," a show in which viewers are simultaneously appalled by and admiring of a criminal character, I decided to turn the perspective around. Rather than single out Yee as a bad apple (who, thanks to the
Given the string of recent scandals out of the state capital — the Senate suspended Yee and two of his colleagues last week for alleged or proved criminal wrongdoing — Yee's arrest does not likely signal a 99 44/100ths pure Legislature. It makes a bigger point about a more important issue.
With a little luck, it might even make you laugh.
Bitterly laugh, but still.