I never paid attention to the fence until now

I’ve seen versions of this illustration before, but usually only the first three panels. Adding the fourth is a revelation.

I always took the fence for granted. Of course there has to be a fence. How else could we have a stupid barrier we have to struggle to overcome?


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Walls…..the town wall that gave Wall Street its name (or the dutch-language version thereof) was built by slaves. Some of them were discovered when a mass grave was unearthed some decades ago. A few things have gotten better, but walls remain relevant symbols.

    -Tangentially related:
    I just learned the Latinx trailblazer Rita Moreno will turn 90 in a few months. She did not have an easy journey.
    And now back to the wall.

  2. consciousness razor says

    How else could we have a stupid barrier we have to struggle to overcome?

    What, you’re not happy with the selection? It’s never enough for some people.

    Neoliberalism and libertarianism are not technically the only ways to have that, but in recent history, that’s pretty much it. If you’re really aching for some feudalism or whatever, that’s just a little harder to pull off these days. But rest assured, we have top men working on it right now. Top men.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    A few moments ago I learned the US senate is on the way to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
    It is a step in the right direction, but it is still just symbolism. 12 years ago some said “USA cannot be racist because we have a black president “.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    I forgot to mention, the law bans both Jeff Bezos and poor people from sleeping under bridges. So the system is perfectly fair.

  5. says

    Did anyone else besides me realize that the DJT’s “wall” was better at keeping us in than keeping “them” out. Trump’s racist rhetoric terrified the general public and convinced millions that dangerous Latinos were going to murder/rape them.

  6. Rich Woods says

    I do like the illustration, but I have to wonder how long it will be before someone adds a fifth panel. The panel will probably be titled something like ‘Private Ownership’, carry a caption such as ‘No-one likes a freeloader’ and show the fence restored, the boxes burnt and the three baseball fans being hauled off by the cops, one in a body bag.

  7. acroyear says

    Here I disagree a bit.

    “Justice” isn’t taking down the wall so the black kids can watch from a remote distance. (this is taking the current version of the image – in the original version years ago, the kids were white)

    True Justice is that black families have the same pay, the same respect, the same ability to afford having a seat in the stands with everybody else in both money and leisure time.

    Then they are equal not just among each other (but inferior to those in the stands) but truly equal to those in the stands, with the ability to have breaks from work to enjoy entertainment and actively contributing to the pay of the players and the venue that provides the game.

  8. PaulBC says

    Not to strain an analogy, but fences also keep out animals, and in a few cases could keep the ball from rolling into the street. They’re not inherently offensive.

  9. PaulBC says

    Rich Woods@7 Most of the youth athletic fields around here are city-owned. There are a few connected to private schools. It’s unusual for them to have a fence that blocks casual spectators.

    Pro sports are also heavily subsidized, so I might go with the “private ownership” tack in that case if these lucrative industries would pay for their own damn facilities.

  10. mudpuddles says

    PZ, any chance you could provide a reference for the image? I’d like to use it in a class I’m teaching, so would like to have the source. Thanks!

  11. says

    Well there has to be a fence around the outfield, it’s part of the game. That’s what distinguishes a home run. It wasn’t put there to keep people from watching. That’s really not a good analogy.

  12. cartomancer says

    Somebody seems to have stolen the bottom half of the tall one’s trousers in the fourth panel. Are trousers an injustice we have to address now?

  13. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @13:

    you beat me to it.
    I retract the thought now, realizing that ruins it as a the metaphor of different modes of operation of society.
    The [home run] definer could be a painted line on the ground, like out-of-bounds in field games

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    Of course, by now, some capitalist shit will look at that final panel and are shrieking “NO! You are GIVING away the labor of the superior athletes to the unpaying masses! If they want to watch a baseball game, they can pay like the rest of the audience!!!”

  15. John Morales says

    Akira, the cause of the inequities are explicitly said to be systemic barriers.

    Paying for access to paid sports is necessary for paid sports to exist, so that’s a systemic necessity as well as a barrier.

    See, here (going by the featured graphic) the cause of the inequity is the requirement to pay to watch the superior athletes (nevermind the owners, promoters, managers and assistants of the franchise). Take away the cause, take away the event, the justice is nobody gets to watch a game.
    … though presumably that inference was not intended, since the baseball thingy is obviously allegorical.


    Highest paid MLB players in 2021 season:

    1. Mike Trout, L.A. Angels, OF, $37,116,667
    2. Gerrit Cole, N.Y. Yankees, SP, $36,000,000
    3. Nolan Arenado, St. Louis, 3B, $35,000,000
    19. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis, 1B, $25,333,333
    20. Joey Votto, Cincinnati, 1B, $25,000,000

    Not exactly a productive use of economic resources.
    Inequitable, arguably. In which case, it should go.

  16. milobloom says

    @ 13 cervantes–
    originally baseball fields didn’t have fences
    in the 1860s, teams began to have fans come to see them
    the people who owned the fields where teams played enclosed the fields, so that they could charge fees
    the original walls didn’t have anything to do with home runs.
    See the following website for more information

  17. Walter Solomon says

    If I were the little guy in the first panel, I’d just tunnel under the fence. Fuck your barriers. Oh, and I would push the tall guys boxes over while I’m at it.

  18. blf says

    No, you do not need a fence, or for the ball to go over it, for a home run. E.g., MLB’s definition is “A home run occurs when a batter hits a fair ball and scores on the play without being put out or without the benefit of an error.” Yes, that is usually done by hitting the ball over the fence. But a fence is not required. E.g., lower-grade and even some high-school and college fields don’t have fences. The local conditions are governed by what is known as “ground rules”.

    My father umpired in many such fields, and (as I now recall from possibly defective memory), if the batter circled the bases and returned home whilst the ball was still in play without error, it was a home run. This meant that a spectator could — and this did happen — field (catch or, usually, pick up) a fair ball the outfielder was chasing, the ball went out of play and so no home run… despite it being obvious it would have been a home run otherwise. (This wasn’t always done maliciously, but just by someone retrieving the ball so the game could continue.) It caused no end of arguments, of the “it’s obviously a home run” vs “not by the definition / ground rules” sorts.

  19. Rob Grigjanis says

    blf @27: Seems it would be simpler if they just used a boundary, marked by a rope, as in cricket. If the ball crosses the boundary it’s dead, and the batsman scores four if the ball bounces before crossing the boundary, and six if it doesn’t bounce. In baseball, you could have a ground rule double in the first case, and a home run in the second. Less controversy all round, I’d think.

  20. blf says

    Rob Grigjanis@28, Off-hand, I can’t think of why something like cricket’s boundary rope couldn’t be used as a “ground rules fence” in essentially the manner described. I cannot offhand think of any rules about the height of the fence, so a rope could already be entirely(?) legal.

    The only fence-related not-safety-related rule I can think of is that the fence must stay in position for a game, which might be a problem for rope? That stay-in-position rule (the position can, as I recall, vary from game-to-game) came about because at least one minor league team had a movable fence, which would be brought in when the home team was batting, and moved further away from home plate when the visitoring team batted. (Not sure, but a safety warning track before the fence might be required (i.e., no(?) ground rules exceptions), which would be a problem for rope on the sorts of fenceless essentially-unbounded fields under discussion.)