This is What Conservatives Give a Shit About?

I get tons of boring email. It comes with the territory. But it’s Friday night, I’m finally setting up a Netflix account of my own, enjoying a fine IPA, and all of a sudden, this professor storms into my inbox with long-winded righteous indignation!  I normally would ignore such blathery, but I blame the IPA. His email, in full:

Dear Mr McFadden,

Will you read a letter from a conservative art historian who teaches at [REDACTED] College?

Since early childhood I have been a fan of political cartoons, and love to see a point made cleverly with visual means, whether or not I agree with the politics. There are cartoonists of the left who make me laugh, even as I disagree with them, and vice versa.

But I think your lemonade stand bit this weekend in the Times fell flat, and in a way you didn’t intend. As you well know (to judge by the comments on your blog), conservative businessmen or Republican governors do not tyrannize lemonade stands. This is exclusively the province of petty soul-crushing bureaucrats, the bland mediocrities that Hannah Arendt described for us. If you want to scorn, mock, ridicule or otherwise lampoon us on the right — it should be vaguely related to something we actually do. In fact, since your cartoon appeared, your own Massachusetts gendarmes just shut down a 12-year old’s stand.

And here’s a litany of similar cases.

Anyway, the rest of the cartoon is fine but it struck me that that panel was dishonest, and the one thing that’s fatal to the political cartoonist is dishonesty. Vulgarity, obscenity, any of the seven deadly sins is perfectly fine in a cartoonist, but not dishonesty. I won’t bore you any more, but for your files I am attaching here an essay of mine on the subject that appeared in Commentary in 2003. It’s only the pdf of the galley; the title was “Cartooning, Right and Left.”

Somehow I have the feeling that I’m not the only one who’s taken you to task about lemonade.

politics aside, congrats on your posting to the Times,


And my well-thought-out reply:

Thanks for the essay, professor!

Somehow I have the feeling a passive aggressive somebody needs to look up the definition of tyranny. And “for my files”? Yeah, I went down to Big Fat Whale Special Collections right away with those op-eds and put them in an acid-free box…with my poop.

13 thoughts on “This is What Conservatives Give a Shit About?”

  1. Also, Mitt Romney did not actually create a gigantic green-skinned monster, nor has he ever expressed any desire to do so. Why do you continue to lie, Mr. McFadden?

  2. You joke, Mr. Blake, but somehow I have the feeling that you’ve never been attacked by the green-skinned gendarmes of our Authoritarian Commonwealth, and therefore, your feelings are MOOT! MOOT, I say!

  3. See, this is why I blog about the lemonade stand meme. It drives conservatives bat-shit crazy. I think it taps into some nostalgic ideal of a past America we can never recover thanks to hippies, uppity black people and socialist fascism from Kenya. Or something.

  4. Lemonade stands and incandescent light bulbs: the two pillars on which our great Republic stands, judging from the crazies’ obsession with them.

  5. “And “for my files”? Yeah, I went down to Big Fat Whale Special Collections right away with those op-eds and put them in an acid-free box…with my poop.”

    1. I love you
    2. I feel this should have been included in your reply.

  6. I fail to see any passive aggression in the profs letter – he makes his point in a civilized manner without any insults or accusations.

    Moreover, I think he´s right – neither corporations nor Mitt Romney are guilty of the harassment of the lemonade-selling children. The state is, and these cases show how regulations are inimical to people´s welfare and happiness.

  7. As a former lemonade stand owner, let me tell you, the shit we used to put in that lemonade… if you knew you’d be begging for more government regulation.

  8. Yeah, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Barnes and Noble, they never did anything to harm small businesses. Are these people so single minded that they can’t see lemonade stands as a metaphor for for mom and pop “main street USA” small enterprise that titans of industry take such glee in squashing like ants.

  9. @matfs – If that was the point, I failed to see it. See, lemonade stands tend to be closed down by petty bureaucrats for equally petty reasons and using them as metaphor for something different and barely related is quite inappropriate.

  10. You don’t understand! There’s ACTUAL lemonade stands under attack! By the state, which, obviously, the Republican Party wants NOTHING to do with!

  11. I refuse to take seriously someone who uses the word “gendarmes” unironically in a context other than “Les Miserables”.

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