Is Wiley conducting some kind of experiment?

Wiley, creator of the daily strip Non Sequitur is one of the best cartoonists around and someone I read every day. Last Saturday (September 18, 2017) he had the strip below. I thought that he was making a point about the way our judicial system is a slave to stereotypical thinking and is all too willing to treat harshly and without due process anyone who looks different enough to be considered the ‘other’.

What is odd is that the point of the strip is something he had done before twice, on January 13, 2012 and December 14, 2014. The first time, newspaper editors had pulled the cartoon for fear of causing offense, that created the Streisand effect with people going online to see what was so offensive. I and many others thought that it was an absurd over-reaction, that they had mistaken a positive message as a negative one. But the next two appearances of the same idea did not provoke such a response.

What I am curious about is why Wiley is repeating the same joke. It is hard to come up with new jokes every day but I don’t think that this is a case of unconscious self-plagiarizing. I do not recall him repeating other jokes and besides, given the earlier controversy, he would definitely remember this strip.

So is he conducting some kind of experiment on readers and newspaper editors to see if we are paying attention? Or perhaps he thinks that this is an important point that he cares strongly about and that people need to be regularly reminded of.


  1. Bruce says

    Or, is the choice to repeat this one strip perhaps a commentary on the recent verdict in St. Louis? Maybe the cartoonist wants to suggest gently that that verdict was also influenced by racially stereotyped thinking?

  2. Holms says

    I’m of the opinion that it is fairly common for a gag-a-week strip quite naturally does this fairly often simply out of having a thought pop into the author’s head without them realising it they had already done it before. I’m fairly sure all such strips have done it multiplt times.

    And this must be even more pronounced for a gag-a-day strip.

  3. Mano Singham says


    In general I would agree with you. What is different in this case is that the first strip was pulled by many newspapers because of fear of causing offense and Wiley would surely remember that.

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