Dilbert creator Scott Adams has long been known to have racist and homophobic views but his recent tirade about Black people was even more extreme than in the past. As a result, newspapers across the country have decided to stop publishing the daily and Sunday strip.
Its creator, Scott Adams, recently denigrated Black people as a “hate group”, advising white people to “just get the hell away” from them.
The strip was founded in 1989, and at its peak about 2,000 newspapers across 70 countries carried it. Adams lit a fuse under the success of his own work in a recent episode of his YouTube show Real Coffee with Scott Adams.
In the course of the show, Adams misinterpreted a Rasmussen poll that asked people whether they disagreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white”. As the Anti-Defamation League has pointed out, the phrase originated with the extremist online forum 4chan as a trolling campaign and was then seized upon by white supremacists – but Adams took it literally.
On the back of it, he declared Black people “a hate group” and expressed his relief that he had managed to flee them by living in a neighborhood with a “very low” African American population.
Of course, Elon Musk has rushed to Adams’s defense, because that is the kind of person he is.
“The media is racist,” was Musk’s response to the widespread decision to terminate the Dilbert strip. “For a very long time, US media was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites and Asians.”
He went on to compare US media with elite educational institutions in America where he claimed the “same thing happened”.
It was also reported that Musk deleted a tweet in which he responded to a comment from Adams about his comic strip being dropped, saying, “What exactly are they complaining about?”
Musk’s defense of Adams stood in stark contrast to the collective decision of hundreds of news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the USA Today network, to drop the strip in response to the cartoonist’s overtly racist remarks. Several papers had dropped Dilbert last year in the wake of a series of earlier homophobic and racist outbursts from him.
The distributor of the strip Andrews McMeel Universal has also announced that it was severing its ties with the cartoonist.
The strip has disappeared today from the GoComics site that is a platform for many strips. My local newspaper the Monterey Herald carries the strip and it was still there today but I understand that they are in the process of discontinuing it. Daily cartoon strips are provided to newspapers two weeks in advance (Sunday strips six weeks) and so there is a time lag between the decision to cancel a strip and having it replaced with a new one. Some newspaper are leaving the space blank for now.
Expect Fox news and right-wing media to make a big fuss about this being an example of ‘cancel culture’ and the media being ‘woke’ because that is how they pander to their bigoted followers.
When it comes to conservative media I think the only real question is whether any of them will second his segregationist style remarks.
I’m glad Musk spoke up though. He’s pretty good at being the face of the billionaires when he’s putting his foot in his mouth. It’s a real public service when he loudly proclaims how out of touch he is with reality like he has here.
Oh, this is an example of “cancel culture” is it?
Well, er… good?
I do appreciate the irony that the majority of people complaining about “cancel culture” are the very same people who hold “the market” as the ultimate infallible arbiter of what is good and right and needed… except when the market says “nope” to a product that’s toxic, as in this case. This is market forces at work, everyone, it’s GREAT! I can’t see what you’re complaining about. Man has right to free speech, man exercises right to free speech, customers decide man is a racist dipshit, customers decide to stop buying man’s product. I can see literally nothing to complain about here.
I mean, it’s not like Adams is going to be reduced to poverty or anything. Guy’s 65 and has an estimated net worth of $75m -- he doesn’t NEED the work.
Also: Dilbert is and has always been a cartoon for and about tech nerds. Is ANY tech nerd in 2023 consuming their comics by buying them on a piece of paper? I haven’t bought a print edition newspaper since the year began with a 1. Dilbert.com isn’t going anywhere. While that’s the primary method of distributing the comic to its actual audience, how meaningful is it to say it’s been “cancelled” anyway?
Nah, he didn’t.
He was doing the same disingenuous plausible-deniability bullshit the originators intended. I don’t accept for a second the idea that Adams isn’t 100% up on the history and origin of the phrase and what it was used for and by whom. Adams may be many things, but oblivious to that extent is definitely not one of them.
Marjorie Taylor Green just recently called for a divorce between red and blue states…
Raging Bee says
Well, it’s gone from the Washington Post as of this morning. I liked it, and I don’t generally demand a comic strip be removed the minute its author says something I disagree with — but Adams went way too far into asshole territory, so firing him isn’t exactly unexpected or unfair.
I wonder how long it will be before people get bored of repurposing old Dilbert cartoons to satirical effect?
I liked his 1990s stuff, but I agree with Raging Bee.
My “local” (local as in, Canadian) paper, the Toronto Globe & Mail, just printed an announcement on page 2 that the comic would no longer be carried. Good riddance.
The crowd who think it is outrageous we cannot say the “n word” will probably not get the irony in the video of Laibach’s “Geburt einer Nation”
Marcus Ranum says
I always wondered how people like adams, ye, rowling wake up and say “I’m making too much, I’m too popular and successful. Time to take a great big stinky dump on that.”
@10: I think the thought process is more like: “I now have so much money that there is absolutely no chance anyone can ever take enough away from me that it’ll affect my lifestyle in any way detectable to me for as long as I live… finally it’s time to say what I really think…”.
I’ve long felt that the peak of Dilbert was the TV cartoon, which was also 1990s. Mostly because an actual half-hour TV show had to pay close attention to story structure and pacing. Stories had to have a beginning, middle, and end. And, frankly, Adams was never great at long-term pacing, or ensuring that stories actually ended. So the cartoon was Adams’ ideas run through a filter and then presumably plotted by somebody better at it than he was. (Granted, this was also around the time Adams started admitting that he was getting lots of his ideas from fan suggestions.
Of course, the 1990s was also basically the time when Dilbert got popular enough that Adams could surround himself with an ablative shield of yes-men, rendering him utterly immune to criticism no matter how valid it was, and so that would have been the time he lost anything keeping him on the rails.
Me, February 27th:
“Dilbert.com isn’t going anywhere.”
Dilbert.com, March 13th:
“Andrews McMeel Universal is severing our relationship with Dilbert creator Scott Adams. The process of this termination will extend to all areas of our business with Adams and the Dilbert comic strip”
Dilbert.com is gone. Where? Behind a paywall. What sort of paywall?
“The site was founded after Rubin and Jordan Peterson left Patreon”…
“Notable creators :
Ah. I see.
Oh, and… if you join, you get access to:
“Content includes the Daily Dilbert Reborn comic (spicier than the original)”
I think we can all guess what “spicier” means.
Here’s a thing: I used to be quite a fan of Dilbert in the 90s, partly because its creator did the sort of thing I always like in a creative person, which is they let you behind the curtain and talked about the process of making the thing. I’ve been a sucker for that sort of stuff since before “The Making of Star Wars”.
One of the regular characters in old, pre-shark-jump Dilbert was “Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light”, the ruler of Heck, who carries a spoon rather than a pitchfork. Adams explained in one of his behind-the-scenes bits that he’d wanted to put a comedy Satan in his comic, but his distributors/editors were uncomfortable with the idea. He went on to explain that “Phil” was partly a commentary on the silliness of this kind of censorship, but, crucially, one that made the strip funnier. That was, presumably, back in the days when on some level he still needed the money.
He doesn’t need the national-syndication-level money any more, so he can publish whatever racist or otherwise “spicy” content he wishes in his fan-financed echo chamber, and not worry if it’s funny enough. I’ll be interested to see if any of it gets out into the outside world, and if it does, what he’ll do about it. I probably won’t be bothered going looking for it, though. Its time has passed.
One more thing: speculation. Scott Adams (born 1957) was recently divorced after a little under two years of marriage to “model and baker” Kristina Basham (born 1998). It would be crass to speculate on the terms of the divorce, and if they were tied in any way to future income from “Dilbert”, a now entirely worthless property.
Raging Bee says
sonofrojblake: I vaguely remember the Dilbert site was always mostly behind a paywall — recent strips were freely available, but past/archived stuff had to be paid for. Anyway, the more it vanishes behind this or that paywall the better…