In 1989, a satirical comic strip called Dilbert made its debut and gradually found an audience of frustrated office workers. The travails of the strip’s title character resonated with its readers, as did creator Scott Adams’s penchant for mocking corporate behavior with a side of absurdism. As the strip grew larger, however, Adams himself became a more prominent figure, eventually riffing on the Dilbert concept to write books that would be filed under “business” rather than “humor.”
Somewhere in there, Adams’s social media presence turned more and more combative. That culminated this week, when Adams took to his podcast and argued that, as The Daily Beast reports, white people should “get the hell away from Black people.” Adams went on to refer to Black people as a “hate group,” and seen unfazed by his earlier comments in a subsequent podcast episode.
Needless to say, many of the newspapers that had been running Dilbert up to that point decided that they’d rather not carry the work of an outspoken racist and racial separatist — and opted to drop the strip. In announcing that the Cleveland Plain Dealer would no longer carry Adams’s comics, editor Chris Quinn wrote that, as a result of Adams’s words, “we will no longer carry his comic strip in The Plain Dealer. This is not a difficult decision.”
Adams has always had a combative side, as the title of his 2008 book Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! shows. In 1997, writer Norman Solomon wrote a book titled The Trouble With Dilbert, which critiqued the politics of Adams’s comics. In response to the book, Adams said something to the Los Angeles Times that feels a lot more chilling in retrospect.
“I make my own living by being a demagogue, and I think it’s funny that someone else is making his living demagoguing me,” Adams said at the time. But that’s the problem with being a demagogue — at some point, people tend to run out of patience with you. And for Scott Adams, that seems to be precisely what’s taking place.
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