BC Comic thinks setting dogs on fire is funny

No, no, no. It doesn’t matter what a non-idiot would say. The fact that it works great for the idiot boss shows that it is already idiot-proof – it’s just that the boss doesn’t realize that.

If the boss couldn’t work it he wouldn’t say “make it idiot-proof,” he’d say “make it work.” And if he did say “make it idiot-proof,” Dilbert wouldn’t say “again?” because it obviously wasn’t already made idiot-proof.

And then it wouldn’t be funny because jokes about Tim Gunn are so four years ago.

“Idiot-proof” doesn’t mean that an idiot can’t use it. It means that an idiot can’t break it.

Well, the use of the dog Spot was necessary for the parody of the Dick and Jane readers style to work. The joke was supposed to be in the parody, and in the juxtaposition of violent cruelty with the supposedly innocent, bucolic tone of an early childhood book. The problem is that this “Dick and Jane” style has been parodied elsewhere, and much more successfully, for decades now—not to mention that nowadays many people are unfamiliar with the source material.

It’s just a cartoon. I find taking a gun and shooting people abhorant too, but Carol Burnett had a lot of darn funny sketches where someone pulled a gun out and shot a human being too.

Something may not be funny to you, and that’s fine. There are lots of things I don’t find funny either.

Similarly, if you read the “Prehistory of the Far Side” book, you’ll see that Gary Larson had a number of comics where people interpreted (or mis-interpreted) it as advocating animal abuse, and wrote lots of letters to complain.

Some people have a particular issue that they’re sensitive to, and they just cannot see humor in it. My wife’s one of those – she simply finds no humor in animals (particularly dogs) being abused. She refuses to see There’s Something About Mary for that specific reason. Had she seen this strip, she would have been offended by it. (Not enough to write an angry letter to the cartoonist, or the editor, but, all the same, it just wouldn’t be funny to her in the slightest.)

Inigo Montoya, it’s a bit much to assume that all such people are closet animal abusers.

In any case, it’s still not terribly funny. The joke would’ve worked better if the boss saying “make it idiot proof” and Dilbert’s “Again?” appeared in the same panel, so it comes off as Dilbert offhandedly zing-ing his boss, rather than the punchline leadenly falling into place after an apparent pause.

Exapno Mapcase said:

I think you misunderstood that joke. Perhaps it is the wording “make sure” that is throwing you. The joke is that the boss is saying, “Test that this is idiot proof,” and Dilbert is saying, “again?” See, he just tested it. But the words “make sure” lead some people to think the boss is saying, “program the software so it is idiot proof” or some such thing, so the joke is less obvious.

Now that I’ve beat all the humor out of that Dilbert joke, let’s get back to this thread.

I don’t think the “joke” is funny. Since it isn’t funny, there is no point to mentioning dousing the dog with kerosene. So it is an extreme idea (burning a dog) for no humor payoff, ergo, it is just being cruel.

Inigo Montoya said:

What gets me is people who read motives in to other people’s responses. Makes me think the real closet animal abuser is the guy accusing others of being closet animal abusers because he can’t understand why they would be against abusing animals.

astorian said:

Wait, are you saying all the response is not coming from people outraged because of the animal abuse, but rather it’s a campaign by Get Fuzzy readers to get B.C. banned from newspapers?

I think people predisposed to hate Johnny Hart probably aren’t reading B.C., but what do I know? I think this strip bothers people who see a casual reference to torturing animals used for the purpose of humor as something that bothers them. I see people reacting to the idea that this strip is often read by children, and they see the casual mistreatment of animals used for humor as an idea that impressionable children might absorb.

I’m amused that GoComics replaced the strip in question on their website with a tamer (but no less unfunny) Wiley’s Dictionary, yet neglected to remove the viewer comments.

The joke isn’t the dog being on fire (hey, wait… isn’t “I burning your dog” a meme 'round here, as linked above? Albeit for different reasons) it’s the over-the-top reaction of the owner (that he would consider setting the dog on fire as retribution for hiding the kindling). It’s really not much different than the now getting overplayed webcomic format of

Character A says something mildly stupid
Character B, already established as Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil™ says something along the lines of “I’m going to start stabbing you now… I might enjoy it too much.”

This can be executed with varying degrees of success, 8-bit Theatre, LFG etc do it okay, the comic in question sort of failed at it. It’s notable that this instance of the trope doesn’t even have a fully illustrated fantasy of it, it’s just him reading an obviously strange book. See, for comparison, this animated musical parody from LFG which actually shows small furry animal’s heads exploding (along with a whole village… so yeah). That example is aimed at a different audience and not seen by Da Childrenz like newspaper comics are, true, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to dig up any number of examples about 10 times worse (Anything from Calvin and Hobbes or, hell, probably Garfield to the “if this can warp their fragile minds we’ve clearly raised generations of malcontents” series known as Tom and Jerry to goddamn Disney movies) that no one really noticed.

And no, I have no idea why I went into that long of an exposition on the subject.

Comic is still fail, tho*.

It would require a bit more setup, and probably require showing the incident to some degree. You could do it in a few panels without even needing much dialogue:
1 Show campers gathering the kindling and going off to do other tasks after depositing it
2 Show dog hiding it
3 Show campers puzzled, maybe have them assign one specific camper to gather more while they set up other stuff
4 Show one camper bringing a second load
[[4b optional, also show him going off to do something else]]
5 Show him coming back from doing something else and catching the dog hiding it this time**
6 Panel zoom on camper’s face, now seething with rage
7 Next panel show him smiling and roasting marshmallows off a fire (not showing the actual dog burning, just the top end of the flames) while other campers are looking at him with a look of shock and abject horror on their faces.

It actually sounds like something Penny Arcade might do.

*[sub]Misspelling for effect, not laziness[/sub]
**[sub]You could actually repeat 4 and 5 a couple times with him getting more miffed each time, perhaps with progressively worse things happening while he’s getting the kindling each time, to set up him getting mad, since it is a little out there that he’d get mad after just the second time, it depends on the pacing of the strip and may not be necessary.[/sub]

Your logic is impeccable. What you say makes perfect sense. You’d THINK people who hate something would stop reading it.

But in reality, people regularly obsess over comic strips or TV shows or ____ they hate, and can’t stop consuming them, just so they can complain. “Family Circus” is pretty easy to avoid, but people regularly make posts attacking it anyway.

In the same way, I often wonder if there are more atheist Dopers reading Jack Chick and Fred Phelps tracts than there are Christians!

Well, to be fair, Atheists (and Catholics, Pagans, etc) in this case ARE the target audience, the tracts aren’t exactly meant to convert Christians to Christianity here.

Well, I tend to agree. With the reader feedback, that is. I know you don’t necessarily agree. People should get over themselves. It’s just a cartoon. Unfortunately the joke wasn’t all that funny, but I didn’t find it offensive. And I am a dog-lover.

Agreed. And it’s nice to see that not everyone who wrote in was offended.

Yep. I have a cousin who absolutely detests Rush Limbaugh. Everything he says sends her into apoplectic fits and turns her livid. And she keeps listening because…?..I don’t know, maybe she thinks if she hates him strongly enough he’ll change his ways. It’s almost entertaining to hear her rant about it.

At least in the strip is BC’s reaction is clearly shocked and disbelieving. Not a great joke, but it is just a joke.

It’s certainly plausible that that element is there.

IIRC, Larson got the most outraged mail for tethercat. (Which led me to worth1000’s contest for photoshop re-creations of Far Side cartoons. Freelance Logo Design, Web Design & Graphic Design | DesignCrowd)

And again IIRC, Larson got little or no mail when his cartoons showed animals eating or about to eat humans, even if they were babies.

My point was that the “With regrets” page is there because they “regret running [that strip]… and [they]'re sorry that readers found the strip offensive.” Having the very first comment after that apology say essentially, “if you were offended, it’s your problem” seems rather disingenuous to say the least.

To be clear, I don’t give a shiny nickel what Johnny Hart or any of his spawn put in their comic strips. And as to being a dog lover, I’m of the Ron White persuasion: I love my dog, I couldn’t care less about anyone else’s.


There’s a great quote in Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts:

My first thought from the reading the subject line was also that “BC Comic” referred to British Columbia. I haven’t thought about the strip as a going concern in years, and am used to seeing it written “B.C.” with periods in the name.

My second thought, on reading the OP, was that it was an “I burning your dog” reference, which IS funny.

Or would be. But no. It’s just a rather unfunny comic strip.

I disagree, however, with those who claim that, in essence, people who can joke about such things are a few steps closer to being able to commit or condone those acts. On the contrary, to someone like me, the less real the possibility seems, the funnier it is.

Animal abuse, when real, is horrifying. However, surreal suffering (when clearly not real and absurdly presented) can be funny… Like the infamous “Dogs Playing Tethercat” Far Side cartoon, depicting two dogs who’d tied a cat to a pole and were batting it between the two of them. One of the Angry Letters written to Gary Larson (the cartoonist) about this one snapped, “This is not funny. I lost two cats this way.”

Which, to me, is actually funny as a response, a la the one liner at the end of the movie The Naked Gun after Victor Ludwig dies from falling off a ledge, getting run over by a steamroller, and is finally trampled by a school marching band playing “Louie, Louie” (“What a horrible way to go… My father went the same way!”). So dogs tied up not one, but TWO of your cats?!

Yes, I know, I assume he meant cruel strangers and not dogs… But such acts of cruelty are so far removed from my conception of possibility that they become funny. I suppose if I HAD seen a cat tied up and batted around, or could really conceive of it actually happening, it would not seem funny (I myself have two cats for pets). But it’s so impossibly incongruous to me, that it does.

Does that make any sense?

Similarly I find certain kinds of ethnic jokes hilarious exactly because they seem like complete caricatures to me; the associated stereotypes seem so ridiculous to me that citing them seems an exercise in absurdism. For example, growing up in NYC with many Jewish friends, jokes that play on Jewish stereotypes seem funny to me in this way (it doesn’t help that my Jewish friends themselves often tell some variety of them), yet I have to constantly remind myself that telling such a joke to newly-met people is a big No-No.

For example: Two Jews are walking down the street and walk past a church with a sign out in front, reading: “LUNCHTIME SPECIAL! GET BAPTIZED AND RECEIVE $10!”

The one says to the other, “Can you believe this? This can’t be for real!” His friend replies, “Wait here. I’m going to find out.” With that, he enters the church. About 15 minutes later, he comes back out.

“So, was it for real?”
“You went in and they baptized you, just like that, wham-bam?”
“And did they give you ten dollars?”

His friend gives him a look. “Money! Is that all you Jews think about?”

At the same time, jokes I have heard that play on negative stereotypes of black people make me very uncomfortable, because I HAVE heard those stereotypes espoused for real from people in my life.

The dog was doused with kerosine. It was NOT set on fire. Nothing to see here but an unfunny comic and misplaced outrage.