Monday, 20 June 2016

Aardvark Comment: Advocating Violence?

The intent behind A Moment Of Cerebus is to celebrate Cerebus and Dave and Gerhard's achievement, to counter-balance the negativity on display across the internet. It would be impossible to debunk every confused opinion that I come across on social media and after 4+ years of cobbling the site together it's not often that I'm shocked by the things people say about Dave Sim or Cerebus. Loathed as I am to give the oxygen of publicity to such views, last week I came across a posting on Twitter that took me aback.

On 17 June, Sabin Cauldron (@toppledidols) wrote across multiple Twitter posts:
"Disheartened both Comics Journal and Comics Reporter promoted Dave Sim this week - he advocated violence against gays during the AIDS crisis... amongst other* things. I get promoting his work. He was very talented. The timing is just frustrating."
When challenged on that statement Sabin replied:
"I have check my facts and wrote an academic paper citing it. Refer to "Note from the President" in Cerebus issue 103... Refer to my full citation in Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah published by McFarland. I've checked my facts, so have others."
Below is the original Note From The President written by Dave from Cerebus #103 (October 1987).

Do the facts support Sabin's conclusion? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Anonymous said...

Sabin's wrong. Anyone can read the Note from the President and see Sabin is WRONG.

A Fake Name

Barry Deutsch said...

Dave's NFTP sounds like conspiracy theory nonsense, and I hope his tongue was in his cheek.

But it in no way advocates violence, and it's ridiculous for Sabin to say it does.

Travis Pelkie said...

Yeah, it's conspiracy theory, and it's saying SOMEONE may have planted plutonium to "get rid of the gays", and that's what AIDS is. It's certainly not DAVE saying that that's what SHOULD be done.

If Dave had advocated violence against gays, anyway, you could certainly find more than one misinterpreted statement to back that up. But you can't find any others, because that's not his position. His position as I understand it has always been basically "as long as they don't do it in the streets and scare the horses".

It's kind of amusing. You could certainly consider Cerebus to be the foremost example in comics of a character not on the gender binary -- he identifies as male, but has female reproductive organs (which are non-working, iirc). If Dave's viewpoints weren't so repellent to people who get excited over that sort of thing, they'd get excited over that....

James said...

I couldn't tell you WHAT Dave is trying to say with the President's note, is it more of his distrust of doctors shining through or something? If he's trying to say that diagnoses of lung cancer are all a ruse, that is tremendously stupid. I definitely don't think he's advocating sneaking Plutonium into gay bath houses though, as if that was an actual concern people might have.

Sabin sounds like he's reading way too much into something that wasn't thought out in the slightest. Par for the course in academic papers about fictional works.

Anonymous said...

Most probably trying to stirr controversy to peddle the book. Only to fool the fools, I mean what could the value of the academic writing by someone that lacks reading comprehension.
Pay no attention except perhaps to reflect on the state of academia.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Unfortunately Sabin has now 'blocked' me on Twitter, so we'll never get to find out how the confusion arose. Shame. It would have been good to clarify and correct that.

Jeff Seiler said...

Two thoughts occur to me:

Travis Pelkie said...

HAHAHA! "You pointed out my lack of reading comprehension, and rather than admit to my mistake, I'm not listening to you anymore!!!"

OY. So junior high!

It's a shame, because looking through the twitter and instagram of "Sabin Cauldron", Sabin does some pretty good looking art. Does anyone know which essay in Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah is the one that Sabin wrote? Can anyone with the book (or Eric Hoffman) give us a bit more context from the essay?

There are certainly things Dave has said that you can take Dave to task about. This isn't one of them. This is someone positing that someone with bad intentions (or the government, or whoever) tried to sicken gays with radiation and then covered that up by claiming the cause was AIDS. It's an example of Dave's way of looking at something at a different angle and spinning out a story. Does/did Dave think either of these were true? I doubt it, as I don't think either was brought up again. But either of them might make an interesting sci-fi/revisionist history FICTIONAL story.

What's funny, though, is that basically that Note is the 1987 version of a stupid tweet.

Did that come out before or after Dave contributed to AARGH? You know, the comic book that was put together, as the acronym says, by Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia? If it was before, and I think it might have been, I certainly doubt that Alan Moore et al would have later asked someone who'd advocated violence against gay people to contribute.

I certainly won't characterize Dave as someone who is a "celebrate diversity" sort, but I can't think of anything where he advocated violence against gay people. Other than advocating for a military response against terrorists, the only other thing I can think of that someone could point to Dave advocating violence would be the part from Tangent about spanking a woman you disagree with. While that is probably the main issue that keeps me from signing the petition in good faith, one could also point out that some people use that same action as foreplay, so I'd say it might depend on your threshold definition of "violence". In fact, as I remember, there was a play in the last year or so based on a real life thing (some two word Capitalized phrase which eludes me right now) where the wife willingly submits to being spanked by her husband if she ... misbehaves? Can't remember exactly what the thought process is there, it's apparently something used by certain Christian sects. I seem to recall a piece in the NY Times Sunday Arts and Leisure about how the actors in the play dealt with all the spanking, since it can't really be completely faked live on stage. I believe that the lead actress may have worn a fake butt. Or special padding, I can't remember for sure.

Oh, yeah, my point. Anyway, I don't think Dave advocates or has advocated violence against gay people, and since his writings are pretty available to anyone who wants to look, and the only "evidence" is this Note, I think it's clear that Dave does not advocate violence against gay people.

Actually, now that I think about it, I'll go further. The link being made here obviously is trying to suggest that Dave would approve of the Orlando shooting incident (or else why bring up the "timing" of the promotion of Dave this week?), and that's reprehensible on Sabin Cauldron's part. I hope that Barry and others will continue to push Sabin on Twitter to apologize for this slur on Dave's character. I see no problem disagreeing with Dave's stance on anything, but to imply, based on an obvious and/or deliberate misreading of something he said nearly 30 years ago, that he would be ok with the Orlando shooting is sickening.

BTW, Tim, did you/will you link us to this TCJ and Comics Reporter spotlights of Dave referred to here?

Jeff Seiler said...

Sorry. 1) The brevity of this NFTP seems to indicate, to me anyway, that this was one of those times when Dave couldn't think of anything about which to write, so just went with the first thing that came to mind; 2) IIRC, Dave once wrote about having a relative (cousin?) who was gay and who, I think, had died of AIDS. But, I could be misremembering.

Another thought: The act of him "blocking" you, Tim, (to me) speaks volumes about his motivation and sincerity (or lack thereof). If he were actually interested in the truth, then he would engage in honest and open discourse.

A last thought: Dave wrote this in 1987. It seems, to me, fairly prescient on his part (the bit about radioactive particles floating around in the air [globally, I might add], and possibly being linked to an increase in cancer/s), since scientists are now seriously considering just that.

Jeff Seiler said...

Testing. Got blocked earlier by Google.

Jeff Seiler said...

Okay. Travis, I have just concluded an excruciating half-hour (or so) reading what must be the essay in "Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah", by Sabin Cauldron, except he is credited as Sabin Calvert. The essay begins on page 148 and is entitled "Negative Space and Gutteral Noise: Gerhard's Psychological Reads [Reads is italicized]".

I say that it was excruciating not least because the essay is replete with typographical and factual errors, but also because I have seldom read such pseudo-academic and pseudo-psychological claptrap.

What is noticeable (and salient to these comments and the above post) is that nowhere in the essay is there any citation relevant to the above NFTP. Nor any discussion of it. There is, on page 154, a supposed quotation of a remark that is attributed by Sabin to "Sim and Gerhard, January, 2002" which seems to advocate "all-out war against the feminist-homosexualist axis...". There is no citation informing the reader as to from what publication Sabin supposedly pulled this quote out of context. Nor is there any book or article, dated 2002, listed in the bibliography that follows which would be likely to contain that quote. One of the two listings for 2002 is Blake Bell's "I Have to Live With This Guy!" As Bell's book is written by and about wives of comic book creators, it is unlikely to contain that quote. And the other listing is for Pierre Bourdieu's "Masculine Domination". I think it is relatively safe for me to assert that Sim and Gerhard are not quoted in either book. That's it for 2002 in the bibliography, except for, of course, an entry for the actual comic book run.

It's possible that Sabin lifted this quote out of context from an issue of Cerebus. I'll check and get back to you.

Jeff Seiler said...

And, yes, just as I suspected, Sabin did, in fact, lift the above-referenced quote in his "Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah" essay out of context from the January, 2002, issue of Cerebus. The quote is part of an essay that Dave wrote and published in the back of the issue, entitled "Is Dave Brady *Actually* Gay?", and is his reprinting of a rough draft he was working on "in the days leading up to 11 September". It was a response to something somebody (presumably, Dave Brady) had written entitled "Cerebus: Going Homo".

After two-and-a-half pages of his essay, Dave stopped and then wrote:

"And that was as far as I had gotten when the events of 11 September took place. It seems to me fundamental to our society that--literally-an act of war is required to shuffle the feminist-homosexualist axis back into the distant background of our society, where it belongs. Temporarily, no doubt. Although they never have anything meaningful to say, they are never quiet for very long. Prior to 11 September, it seemed rather broad-minded of me to attempt some kind of dialogue. ..."

So, yeah, note how Sabin took the quote he utilized in his essay about Gerhard out of context AND ascribed to *both* "Sim and Gerhard.

I think we can all easily dismiss anything he has to say about Dave as particularly biased, especially once we google him and find that he is, apparently, a very active member of the LGBT community.

Jeff Seiler said...

If you look at his essay in "Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah" (edited, btw, by Eric Hoffman), you'll find that what Sabin left out was the bookend references to 9-11 by Dave, which event was the "act of war" to which he referred. Very disingenuous on Sabin's part.

Okay, that's all the research I'm doing today. Hope that helped, Travis.

Jeff Seiler said...

One last thought: When I see the word "cauldron", I immediately think of Shakespeare's Three Witches "stirring the pot", from "Macbeth".

Just sayin'.

Barry Deutsch said...

1) Sabin has blocked me, so there's nothing I can do to press him further, alas.

2) I think that we can say he's biased because he said something that's blatantly not true, and (even worse) he refuses to discuss the matter or consider that he might be mistaken. But saying he's biased because he's a member of the LGBT community seems unwarranted.

Tony Dunlop said...

I'll join the echo chmber here to point out that to get "I promote violence against gay people" out of that brief note requires either a very low level of reading comprehension, or a willful misinterpretation. Dave is no more advocating planting plutonium in gay bathhouses (and weren't they all shut down by 1987, precisely out of fear of AIDS?) that he is advocating putting spent nuclear fuel in cigarettes.

Thanks for catching that, Tim. No surprise at all that the perpetrator is plugging his ears and saying "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU."

Sean R said...

Totally ridiculous. Tony and Travis are spot on.

>> either a very low level of reading comprehension, or a willful misinterpretation.>>

Jeff Seiler said...

No, Barry, not unwarranted. Sabin willfully misinterpreted Dave's 1987 comment and, previously, Sabin willfully misused Dave's essay in the January, 2002, issue of Cerebus. And, now, he has gone radio silent, neither defending himself nor apologizing.

Anonymous said...

The blogger is utterly wrong about Dave advocating violence and should publish a full retraction and correction.

Context is important when reading this essay. Around this time, Dave contributed to the AARGH! anthology (see leaned left. Also, there was still confusion about the origins of the illness, and the full scope of what caused it.

When I read the essay at the time, I understood it to be Dave asking if AIDS could be a radiation-based plot to commit violence against gays. Thus, it was Dave asking if it could be a deliberate act, but in no way condoning or advocating it. Nor has he proposed anything of the like since then.

Ukrainian politician Viktor Yushchenko was actually poisoned in a similar manner (

--Claude Flowers

Anonymous said...

There seems to have been a glitch when I was typing the statement above. It should read "and his politics leaned left."

--Claude Flowers

Dave Sim said...

Thanks for the phone message, Jeff!

AIDS was pretty new in 1987. I might be misremembering but I think it was still being popularly referred to as the Gay Cancer, which is what I first heard it referred to (c.1985) and there was an extended period -- at least to the early 1990s -- where it seemed to me that no one was examining the situation on a purely factual basis. What do the symptoms sound like? What do they resemble? I'm still not convinced that HIV causes AIDS but that's kind of beside-the-point since that's the only angle the Feminist Theocracy will allow for (i.e. the only approach for which you can get research funds) and we're now dealing exclusively in "retroviral medications" last I heard as the only accepted panacea.

The last time I tried to donate blood to the Red Cross -- early 1990s -- their questionnaire specifically said you couldn't donate blood if you had had unprotected sex in any large city in the U.S. in the previous five years. Okay, that lets me out. I'm not sure what the Feminist Theocracy has decided we all believe about blood donation, NOW, but I'm willing to bet it changes on a regular (every few months) basis.

Dave Sim said...

Still, I think it's a good thing that Mr. Sabin's views were quoted here and that everyone has been at least SEMI-cordial in their criticisms. There might be another reason for the radio silence.

I've been meaning to ask: is the full LGBTQ2 becoming mandatory? Or does the Feminist Theocracy allow for LGBT as a shorthand form? Also: have any other letters or numbers been added since the "2"?


Carson Grubaugh said...

Dave, are you aware of the "Otherkin" designation?

Erick said...

Truly absurd. Either stupidity or willful stupidity on sabin's part.
I have a problem with Dave's embrace of ISIS especially given their doctrine of rape and genocide against the yazids -and before Jeff S. fly's to Dave's defense just re-read the Adams article, where Dave not only comes across as obsequious but also and as an ISIS apologist if not ourtight supporter. Of course Dave gives his standard 'Only God knows if what ISIS is doing is against HIS will'. BS.
That digression was intended to let you know that while I am not a fan of most of Dave's view, in this instance (Sabin and gays) he is wildly misinterpreted.

Jeff Seiler said...

Okay, since I was not aware of the latter part of the term LGBTQ2, to which Dave referred above, I googled it. I kid you not, the first entry that came up was for a website that attempts to raise awareness for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Queer, and 2-Spirited persons (especially minors) who are homeless in (I kid you not) Waterloo, Ontario. As in Waterloo/Kitchener.

And, then, just below that entry was an entry explaining that the most up-to-date acronym is LGBTTIQQ2S. No shit! That stands for, apparently: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersexual, Queer/Questioning, 2-Spirited.

So, there's your answer, Dave. I found it on the Internet, and everyone knows that the Internet always tells the truth.

I just wonder when they're going to add "H" to the acronym...or, to make it clear, "He".'s not entirely clear...

How about:


BTW, a lower entry raised the question of "what about Pansexual?"

Not sure I want to know what that is...

Carson Grubaugh said...

Gonna guess "Pansexual" is something like, "all things in me and me in all things."

Dominick Grace said...

It means you like sex with goat gods.

Barry Deutsch said...

Pansexual means someone who is attracted to people of any sex or gender.

I don't think LGBTQ2 was ever a common term. Google says there are 35,000 search results for "LGBTQ2" - which may sound like a lot, but consider that there are 17 million search results for "LGBTQ." I've literally never heard the term LGBTQ2 before this discussion, and I suspect I'm far more plugged into those communities than most of the folks here.

To answer Dave's question, many people still the term LGBT a lot (google finds over 99 million results).

Personally, I regret that "Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans (Transgender/Transsexual), Bisexual, Asexual, and/or Gay" - QUILTBAG for short - never really caught on. (375,000 results on google.) It's just so much easier to pronounce.

As for HIV causing AIDS, I have an alternative hypothesis: Most scientists believe that HIV causes AIDS, not because of a shadowy "feminist theocracy" conspiracy, but because there is a wealth of evidence that HIV causes AIDS.

It's not true that no one is willing to try out alternative approaches: Peter Duesberg's views, for instance, were the basis of how South Africa approached treating AIDS under Thabo Mbeki.(Duesberg is the leading scientist of the "HIV doesn't cause AIDS" view.) Compared to neighboring countries with similar levels of AIDS, over 300,000 people needlessly died, including a significant number of infants.

Of course, it's possible this is all a conspiracy. Maybe the two independent studies finding the awful death toll in South Africa were faked. Maybe all of the data showing that HIV causes AIDS were faked. Maybe thousands of scientific researchers are in on the conspiracy.

But that just seems unlikely to me.

Next up: The world is not flat. Climate change is real. Evolution is real. Oh, and yes, cigarette smoking does greatly increase the chances of getting lung cancer.

casual cerebus fan said...

Note the disingenuous claim that TCJ and the Comics Reporter are "promoting Dave Sim," implying that they did... what, exactly?

Unless there’s a post I’ve missed, the answer turns out to be that they linked to the free Cerebus downloads as part of their "this week in comics" news roundups.

Conflating casual hyperlinking with wholehearted endorsement is standard operating procedure for riling up a social media guilt-by-association hate mob, of course, even if it’s not likely to work in this instance since Sabin’s a nobody and TCJ is TCJ. "Nice little comics website you’ve got there; it’d be a shame if hashtag activists on Twitter were to brigade it with accusations of promoting homophobia in the wake of the Orlando shootings..."

A cynic might suggest a connection with Sabin’s complaint (a few posts down his Twitter feed) that he can’t find a publisher/distributor/reviewer for his own self-published comics.

(For the record, I think the NFTP is in very poor taste, and I disagree with Dave’s stance on homosexuality, but this is such an egregious and typical example of social media "crybullying" that I have to delurk and point it out for the benefit of readers who aren’t familiar with Twitter.)

Barry Deutsch said...

By the way, I see that cartoonist Don Smith also pointed out on Twitter that Sabin's claim against Dave is false, and Don posted the image of 103's NFTP.

For folks who are curious to see Don's work, there's a comic online here, called "In The Fade."

Dave Sim said...

Hi Erick! I would characterize the characterization of myself as "embracing" ISIS -- or ISIL, as President Obama prefers -- as extremely pejorative and inaccurate. But I know that it's strongly held on your part.

My own view is that genocide and rape can never be a good idea, but there's also no doubt that the Koran advocates the former for infidels and apologizes? rationalizes? circumvents? the latter when it comes to "the women who are in your hands as slaves". They're the only women a Muslim is allowed to have sex with besides his wife/wives.

My assumption with all Scripture is that it's a mix of God's word and the YHWH's word and a core point of Scripture is bringing your own internal sense of right and wrong to bear in assessing which is which. When I'm reading the Torah and I reach the verse about stoning someone to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath, I take it as a given that that's the YHWH talking. When I'm reading the Koran and I get to the part about God being forgiving and merciful toward women who are compelled to have sex by their captors after they have been compelled to do so I infer a) that it's in the same category: it's a Satanic Verse and b) there's a strong compelled inference that God is NOT forgiving and merciful to those who compel women to have sex against their will. Both of those may be true or one of them may be true or neither of them may be true. I'm not God, so all I can do is express my opinion.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Erick! During Ramadan, which began June 6th, I read the Koran out loud exclusively -- no Torah or Gospels on Sunday (although I'll be making and have made an exception for the "3:16 dates" and my commitment to fast for 24 hours on those days: June 13th and 23rd and read aloud John's 21st chapter) -- and try to read it as many times as I can in sequential increments before my five daily prayers. Two more prayers today. If I can make it to page 247 before 11 pm I'll have read the Koran out loud twice in its entirety and (theoretically) will be in shape for reading it aloud four times in the course of the Sacred Month.

My opinions on the Koran may be BS, but they are at least well-informed BS, yes? :)

Erick said...

Hello Dave,
first i never said nor implied that the Koran or your interpretation of it was BS. Perhaps you inferred that?
That is exactly the kind of twisting of words that we are decrying with sabin and your gay references.

secondly regarding ISIS:
Here is what i said back in November including your verbatim quotes with nothing out of context


Just because ISIS may claim they are good practitioners of the Islamic faith does not make it so.

And for Dave or anyone else who does not know their background and what they do, or simply chooses to ignore it, to then provide cover by saying:

"I think the men of ISIS, like all Muslims, are centrally concerned with submitting to God's will and doing what they think God wants them to do. I'm not God so I have no idea if they are or not. The will of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- relative to women -- involves marriage and fatherhood instead of fornication, adultery, whoredom and masturbation. It would be unusual for a good Muslim to rape a captive "if she wishes to preserve her modesty" as it says in the Koran on that very subject. I'm not saying it doesn't happen -- the Boko Haram abductions are a glaring example -- I'm just saying that I think it would be unusual."

Well that is giving them the cover and defense of the 'good Muslim', which by their own proclamations on their websites and documents concerning their sexual abuse of young girls, they most certainly do not deserve. You do not have to be 'God' to know the difference between right and wrong. The sexual abuse of young girls (documented as young as age 10) which is a core belief of ISIS (if you do not believe me then just look up ISIS and their beliefs regarding Yazidi), should be proof enough to any rational human being that ISIS is not in any way shape or fashion a 'good Muslim'.

Did I say Dave defends all of their actions? No. And i do not believe that. In fact I pointed out very strongly that i do not believe that Dave is supporter of ISIS nor of their ideology.

But I also said that people have been fooled before into believing what a group says as opposed to what it actually does.

Dave, as anyone who has read his work can attest, is highly intelligent and keeps abreast of world events. So for him to not know about the treatment of the Yazidi girls by ISIS would be startling.

Not impossible, but startling. So either hie is woefully ignorant and misinformed about ISIS - which would explain if not excuse the above quote, or he did know about it and still said it anyway.

I think that says it all. Anyone can hide behind the school yard phrase 'im not God s i don't know'
well God gave intelligence and a moral compass and free will so that we would know the difference between good and evil. So that we can clearly see the difference between those who commit evil in Gods name and try to hide behind trite phrases such as 'Im not God so only Gods knows if this is good or not'

Sandeep Atwal said...

Seems like a pretty clear case of poor reading comprehension plus a desire to say SOMETHING negative about Dave Sim because...he's Dave Sim. Hey, why not exploit the latest tragedy to talk smack on twitter? Pretty sure I saw a reference to Sim possibly being anti-semitic on Twitter...that one made me laugh. But in a world where the author of Judenhass can be anti-semitic and the author of Melmoth and contributor to Alan Moore's AARGH! can be homophobic, literally ANYTHING is possible. Just make sure you say something negative about Dave and the retweets will be yours!

Anonymous said...

Um, Sandeep?
Dave use to be married now he um, has a "problem" with women, so yeah it could easily be true.
In this case it is not, but your examples of why he could not hold prejudiced views are juvenile at best

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Sabin is completely biased with the subject of homisexuality.

And I say unfortunately because he's a very talented artist and a kind individual in person. The times I've interacted with him at shows I've had a good time chatting with him.

I don't know if it's a combination of the bravery that comes from being behind a computer and that, no matter the subject, context or circumstances, if it touches on homosexuality, coming from someone who isn't, it's an agression to him.
An worsen with his displayed attitude of arrogance and "better-than-thou".

It's a shame.

CerebusTV said...

Everybody with a YouTube "channel" now promotes the rainbow cause ... even CerebusOnline and Dave Sim.. Featured right next to the YouTube logo at the top.

CerebusTV said...

I'm afraid that if you don't affirm and celebrate the "LGB..whatever" ideology, current thinking is that you are equally guilty of violence (perhaps even more so, since it's judged to be the root cause) for creating the psychological climate that enables it. That's the new consensus, from the White House to your house, even if not the off-white house.