Tom the Dancing Bug: One Day on a Desert Island





  1. Great comic.

    It always amuses me how often die hard conservatives live by the rights granted to them by the constitution, jump on anyone who questions those rights, yet somehow completely ignore and forget about it when it comes a subject which their party should oppose.

    This happens with liberals too.

    It’s like the loyalty to the political party you chose to declare on a piece of paper supersedes your ability to make a logical, objective thought.

    1. True. Even people who claim to be hardcore literalists will pick and choose which parts of the Constitution to (loudly) defend and which parts to (quietly) reinterpret. The biggest hypocrites are usually the loudest “defenders.”

      You can substitute any major legal or religious document for “Constitution,” and I think the observation will stand.

    2. The Constitution does not grant rights. It tells our government that it is not allowed to abridge rights that we have just by virtue of our existence.

    3. MustWarnOthers: Gotta correct you on something. The Constitution does not grant rights. The Bill of Rights (only a small part of the Constitution) PROTECTS and guarantees them.

      It’s a list of the most basic rights that a human being can have, and it’s acknowledged right in the BoR that the list isn’t all-inclusive.

    4. The Constitution grants no rights, it only acnowledges those granted by God, and limits those of government.

  2. Man, new TtDB day is always my favorite day of the [whatever timespan it is in between new TtDB comics–fortnight?]!

  3. Is this a bad time to bring up the fact that this island will most likely get a lot of rain, and therefore not qualify as desert?

    Also, before anyone ended up on it, deserted might have been a good description? In the 90s “deserted” turned into “desert”, and it bugs me.

    1. @Anon #3: “Desert” doesn’t mean dry; it means devoid of life, or uninhabited. Wikipedia:

      “A desert island is denoted as such because it exists in a state of being deserted, or abandoned.”

      Personally, I’d like to end up on a dessert island. Mmmm, the land of chocolate…

    2. Its a cartoon island–not a real one! It will only get rain if the artist draws it in and from the look of this the artist is finished with the strip.

    3. “desert island” is grammatically correct, and an accepted English form from long before the 1990’s – “deserted” being a form of the adjective that is past-tense, “desert” as an adjective is present-tense.

      Modern English speakers have difficulty with the ambiguity of “It is desert”, where “desert” could be a noun or an adverb, and thus use principally “deserted” to distinguish the two.

    4. I’m afraid that Anon #3 has it backwards: The original meaning of “desert” was “wilderness” — i.e. a place where people had not yet established permanent settlements or developed the land. Only later did the word come to connote a place with a naturally arid climate. (The connection between lack of rain and lack of human habitation should be obvious; so it makes perfect sense that the word “desert” would eventually come to mean a place that gets little rain.)

      Anyway, it’s perfectly acceptable to speak of a “desert island”, even if the island gets lots of rainfall. And, contrary to what Anon #3 suggests, this usage was not coined in the “90s” (assuming that Anon #3 meant the 1990s). This should be obvious to anyone old enough to remember Gilligan’s Island (which originally aired from 1964 to 1967). The Gilligan’s Island theme song includes the line: “The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle.”

      1. That’s right: a desert is deserted. Not arid.
        People too often let specialists/scientists usurp perfectly good words, which them are lost for their original use.

          1. So what?
            They missed a definition, it seems.
            Dictionaries are only as authoritative as you allow them to be.
            Lots of uses of words never make it into a dictionary at all.

          2. @ Anon #51: No, it doesn’t. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “desert” as:

            DESERT, a. S as z [L. To sow, plant or scatter.]

            1. Literally, forsaken; hence, uninhabited; as a desert isle. Hence, wild; untilled; waste; uncultivated; as a desert land or country.

            2. Void; emprty; unoccupied.
            Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.

            DESERT, n. An uninhabited tract of land; a region in its natural state; a wilderness; a solitude; particularly, a vast sandy plain, as the deserts of Arabia and Africa. But the word may be applied to an uninhabited country covered with wood.

            (Source: )

          3. Thanks for the back-up…that earlier comment had me shaking my head at how lousy Webster’s dictionary must be…now I feel that that poster was maybe using an abridged “pocket edition”.

    5. I’ve got another theory. You were still a kid in the 90s, and thought at that time that the phrase was “deserted island.” As time went by you began to hear correctly, and you perceived a “change” from “deserted” to “desert.”

      I hate to be the one to break it to you, but “desert island” has always been the phrase used to denote such a place. The word “desert” when used in this manner means “absent of people.” It is distinct from “deserted” which means that people were once there, but no longer are now.

  4. Mmmmm, interesting question.

    I have a friend that believes that Democracy is the ONLY valid form of government.

    He also believes that the LAW (read also constitution) must ALWAYS taken as is.

    Then is when I tell him that any real constitutional democracy can turn into another system if the rules are follow as are, turning it to a Dictatorship or Theocracy (for example).

    Then he goes bananas and start to yell that nobody should let be allowed to change any law except in some cases.

    Then i just sit and watch my friend self destroy in paradoxical rage.

    Then we go and eat a whooper.

    F*cking Politics, how they work?

    1. “Then is when I tell him that any real constitutional democracy can turn into another system if the rules are follow as are, turning it to a Dictatorship or Theocracy (for example).”

      Kurt Goedel did the same thing at his citizenship hearing, when questioned about his knowledge of the constitution. Apparently Einstein had to tell him to shut the hell up.

      1. I read that Morgenstern pdf. What is the moral of the Gödel “incident”? That even the brightest men says you should never criticize your constitution or you get thrown out? Was the judge a good guy for helping Gödel get his citizenship or a bad guy for protecting a flawed system?

        1. Let me stop you right at the point where you assume that true events have any sort of moral to them. They’re just a bunch of stuff that happened.

          1. That story is just one eye-witness note away from fictional urban legend. Fiction or not, the moral of a story is an external observation and I can’t believe it hasn’t been discussed.

      2. Unmutual, that’s awesome, especially since my first reaction to Victor’s post was to think that his friend needed to read Gödel, Escher, Bach.

  5. What’s pretty cool about this is that in the senate in Argentina there was talk about submitting same-sex marriage to popular vote, and pro-sex same marriage legislators raised exactly that point: that the equal rights to a minority can’t be decided by popular vote. They put as an example the right of women to vote; if that have been decided by popular vote, it probably would never had passed.

  6. Wasn’t it Josef Goebbels who used to boast about how the National Socialists used democratic methods to overthrow a democracy?

  7. Full democracy can work, eventually, and only with great violence. If everything is majority rule, some minorities will have abridged rights. When the minority complains, they will find sypathetic members of the majority. If that is not enough to change the rule, civil disobedience can help, then rioting. “Law and order” will be the cry of the oppressors, but eventually, more and more of the majority will understand the evil causing the violence. Finally, the cost of the violence will convince enough of the oppressive majority to cave, and vote to give the minority equal protection under the law. But legislating actual prejudice is seldom effective. We fought a revolution for our rights, and such revolutions need to be invoked whenever minority rights are trampled.

  8. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

    Without a constitution, democracy is just mob rule,
    easy to sell to proles, but fundamentally immoral.

  9. The “story” about two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner is wrong. The reality is that in any society, the majority of people are sheep — they go along with the general consensus, they don’t make waves, they blindly follow whoever their current bellwether is regardless of where said bellwether is leading them, until and unless said bellwether leads them into utter disaster.

    In real society, the wolf ends up being presented with a tasty salad for dinner. At that point he either raises objections about minority rights — or else he simply ignores the majority and ends up having mutton for dinner. If the former, he might be a Democrat. If the latter, he’s probably a Republican.

    1. It’s not wrong, its an analogy. If you scrutinize it enough it will eventually disintegrate.

      What it does is perfectly illustrate the way a majority can scapegoat a minority in a “straight” democracy. Which is why you can’t decide civil rights at the ballot box.

      You need ivy league educated, tweed suit wearing, snifter and cigar holding elites to pontificate and come to a ruling. As far removed as they are from the everyman, they are more likely to be free from the sort of bias that rabble rousers have infected the voters with.

  10. America is not a democracy, it’s a representative government. Just thought I’d throw that out there :)

    1. While America (as a whole) is technically a representative form of government, the comic is primarily about the results (and the rationale behind the results) of the Prop 8 trial, in California.

      California is only _nominally_ a government based on representatives. Those polarized representatives largely hold themselves in a stagnating balance (or just get little done). Most of the major state laws get passed as ballot initiatives and amendments to the state constitution, making it more of a true democracy, and a governmental failure.

      Of course the implementation of those laws falls partially on elected officials (governor, attorney general, etc.), and largely on the people they hire. It’s a governmental failure in that sense, too.

      1. A democratic federal republic…it ain’t a “it’s this or that”…it may be both.
        And the name given to any political system may simply serve to hide or mask the despotism of a class, or of a single person, or of a family.

        The best deaspots always labor to disguise their despotism under the hollow forms of a republic. Think of Augustus of Rome, as the model of disguised despotism.

  11. I always thought Warren Ellis described it best (by way of Spider Jerusalem):
    “You want to know about voting.

    I’m here to tell you about voting.

    Imagine you’re locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun.

    And you aren’t allowed out until you all vote on what you’re going to do tonight.

    You like to put your feet up and watch ‘Republican Party Reservation.’

    They like to have sex with normal people using knives, guns, and brand new sexual organs that you did not know existed.

    So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades.

    That’s voting.

    You’re welcome.”

  12. “You want to know about voting. I’m here to tell you about voting.

    Imagine you’re locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain’t allowed out until you all vote on what you’re going to do tonight.

    You like to put your feet up and watch CSI. They like to have sex with normal people using knives, guns, and brand-new sexual organs that you did not know existed.

    So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to shpx you with switchblades.

    That’s voting. You’re welcome.”

    (C)Warren Ellis (One sentence changed to avoid needing to explain context, one curse rot13’d)

  13. Case in point, the “Mosque” near Ground Zero. Conservatives are the ones always championing their freedom to exercise their religion as they see fit. Liberals emphasize their freedom from having another religion pushed upon them. Conservatives should be in favor of the mosque, but they are outspoken against it. Complete inconsistency.

    1. Simply opposing the building of a “mosque” in the shadow of the former World Trade Center towers is not hypocritical.

      Were they to use the force of government to oppose it – that would be hypocritical.

  14. if equal rights for a minority can’t be decided by popular vote, it would seem they aren’t ‘decided’ at all, and aren’t even a political issue.

    They’re just some other thing?

    What, a law of nature?

    The true form of the good?

    Tautologically true?

  15. There’s one other question I always have when matters like this arise:

    Why do people give a f*ck if gay people get married?


    People decide to get married for a myriad of different reasons. Tax breaks, Love, they just settle, babies, money etc. About half of marriages end in divorce anyway.

    What’s so special about marriage that all the straight people in the world need to do their best to hang on to it, and not give it to gay people too?

    I just got engaged to my girlfriend back in June, and never at any point did I think to myself “Man, this is Great! I’m getting married soon! I better go out and make sure that gays can’t do this!”.

    Maybe people think marriage is like Beanie Babies. If you saturate the market, it isn’t worth shit.

    1. Fear, ignorance and religion-borne intransigence are the reason for resistance against gay marriage. It’s not the marriage itself they’re against – it’s the fact that by allowing it, it becomes official, out of the closet and hard to hide from plain view… (IMHO)

  16. Democracy’s shortcomings exacerbated are by an ignorant and self absorbed population that largely does not vote or get involved, except to protect their own interests, and impose them on everyone else.

    I hear a rallying cry for some that calls for smaller, more limited government, lower taxes, fewer regulations on persons, businesses and trade. It is a general call for the government to play a smaller role in the lives of people, and for it to provide the more basic, constitutionally mentioned functions. I find it very curious that some of the very same people would like to tell the others how, why, when and where to worship, and who, when and why they can marry.
    On the other side. I heard the cries during the Bush II administration of the systematic violation of civil liberties with unabashed impunity. Now I find some of those same people working to take away my Second Amendment rights.

    Cognitive dissonance has now become the norm.

  17. “Vox populi, vox dei.”

    A more horrifying thought was never articulated.

    When the founders of the American system of government sat down to write, they had very recently seen what happened when the majority ruled. It happened in France. Today, historians refer to it as “The Terror.”

    All of the leading intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic had carried away from the democratic experiment in France one lesson above all: democracy means mob rule, chaos, oppression of the minority, and rule through fear and blood.

    These “Founding Fathers” set out to write a document that would grant a limited but inviolable set of rights and freedoms. The question of God was brought up and summarily dismissed–these were still men of the Enlightenment, men ruled by reason. Thomas Jefferson suggested the clause that, to avoid the tensions and conflict that had kept Europe awash in blood for centuries (his own words) there would be no state religion.

    Fast forward to today. The Religious Right wants to legislate morality, and further claims that they possess the only morality that matters. Their followers are not necessarily evil, or even stupid, but they tend to vote as a block, meaning that nearly any politician who wishes to gain or remain in office must appease this vocal majority.

    The “Founding Fathers” had a vision of government that clashes, violently, with the vision of government espoused by the Tea Party, the Religious Right, and the Neoconservative Elite. 200+ years ago, they established a system of government to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity (paraphrased). This government had two basic functions: to enact the will of the majority, and to protect the rights of the minority in the face of the will of the majority.

    Somewhere, somehow, something has gone dreadfully wrong.

    1. Anon, you are correct in that a democracy is mob rule and chaos, and somewhere our republic has gone horribly wrong.

      But I think you need to reread the Constitution. The Founding Fathers (FF) wrote a document that does not “grant a limited but inviolable set of rights and freedoms.” Instead it established how the federal gov’t. was to be created and the powers it had (and still has). In essence, the Constitution limits the power of the federal government in order to protect everybody’s rights and freedoms. The rights are ours to begin with. The constitution does not say ‘The people have the freedom of speech and of the press’, but rather ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …’. It was written this way to convey their belief that these freedoms are natural freedoms and rights. Our federal gov’t should only have the powers specifically spelled out in the Constitution. The function of the federal gov’t. is stated in the Preamble. Following your first basic function (enact the will of the people) is why we are where we are today.

  18. Another aspect:
    This democratic domination will continue: THEN we have three persons, and one will loose again. This is to expect. SO in the situation in the comic the two weakest of the four have to ally to avoid to be kicked one after one. And so the democracy will work again.
    (Okay, wont be working, if the oppositions are in a fight and never ally, which is sadly common in the real world)

  19. California Christians were more than happy to let Utah Mormons decide who could and who couldn’t get married in California. That’s Democracy in action!

    Coming soon: The criminalization of Divorce.

  20. @#31: The Terror came after the Constitution which in some ways breaks your point.

    Regardless of this fact, Jeffersonian democracy was most definitely by the elite for the people. Thus why the Senate was elected by the state legislatures – as state politicians would likely be able to pick better senators (of course this had a draw back eventually with the “Millionaire’s Club” in the early 1900s which led to the amendment for direct election by the people).

  21. This isn’t a problem that just applies to Democracies- in any system of organizing how resources are allocated, someone’s going to get the shaft.
    The strength of the democracy isn’t that it preserves rights better than other systems, it’s just that the people getting screwed will likely be in the minority– so even if they get utterly pissed off about that, they hopefully won’t have the numbers to overthrow the state.

    Preserving rights isn’t something you can guarantee with _any_ system of government- you need nice people to do it. In a state with a fair number of non-nice people, no government will be able to do this.

  22. Cute cartoon. My position is as follows:

    I think same sex unions is a good idea. Promoting fidelity to a partner should help prevent the spread of disease. It would also be nice if we had some type of policy that would help pacify these people from raising hell over their perceived lack of civil rights. It’s also a good way to mitigate the harmful effects of what many times is a self destructive lifestyle.
    Personally, I don’t really give a damn what people do in private.
    But, I also realize the affront to many people that comes from calling it a marriage. I think same-sex marriage is a contradiction in terms. Prison marriage is a good metaphor though.(lol) But really, what is the true definition of the word marriage?
    There are greater issues. I believe gays should have the same rights as everyone else in a secular society. Being able to visit a sick loved one in the hospital and other entitlements like life and health insurance benefits are at issue. It seems to me that employer based spousal benefits should be equal. Why should a gay person have to pay into those benefits by virtue of employment to help the straight persons family and not be able to enjoy those very same benefits. Hopefully, a more socialized healthcare for all will help mitigate this issue.
    Social security benefits, on the other hand, are different. While the same argument can be applied since everyone pays into social security, making gay partners eligible for govt. benefits tacitly implies govt. approval even promotion of such unions. Herein lies a dilemma. I see a federal law making gay marriage legal putting huge financial pressure on an already struggling entitlement.
    In the end, there’s gonna have to be some kind of compromise. I realistically don’t see them getting it all. Take what you can get. Remember, a liberal state like California voted it down in a referendum. If the courts rules in favor of same sex marriages, don’t expect the fight to be over. It could even be counterproductive. What if such a decision spurs a huge right wing religious uprising? Sounds like an ugly battle to me. It could even result in a constitutional amendment.
    My advice, call it a civil union, take some benefits with that. We’re not quite there yet as a society. Be thankful you have as many rights as you have against discrimination and such. It wasn’t that long ago coming out of the closet could get you death in western societies. Some countries still do that.

    I realise I’m gonna get attacked over a couple of these comments and so be it. But seriously I, personally, really don’t care what you do in private. You can shoot dope, smoke crack and sodomize 30 people at home (as long as they are not children) and I don’t really give a rat’s ass.

    1. My problem with what you’re saying is the apologetics of establishing civil unions alongside marriages. IMHO, that is tantamount to creating civil unions as a so-called “separate but equal” institution. Now, I’m no law buff, but I think someone said something about separate but equal once….

  23. What a strange web site with some very stange posts written by what I perceive as some very strange people. sb.

  24. I mean, my OED defines “desert” as “An uninhabited and uncultivated tract of country”.
    AS I said, words being reduced in meaning by their adoption by specialists: the recent adopted jargon-definition displaces the older and broader definition.

  25. The real humor here is the constant attempts by our fellow readers to use this rather classic joke to justify their own forms of prejudice.

    First off, we live in a constitutional republic. Have we bastardized its original form? Yes. Was it democrats or republicans? Both. Democrats believe in most social freedoms, but believe in controlling most economic freedoms. Republicans believe in most economic freedoms, but want to control your social life. Neither have respect for the constitution, its intent or the sound reasoning that created it.

    Now, should gay marriage be legal? NO! Why? Because marriage shouldn’t be legal! What is the government’s role in a personal decision between two people to stay together? Want to sign a contract sharing all your stuff? Go ahead! Want to give your friend durable power of attorney? Great! Wanna close the doors and consensually do dirty things? Have a good time! The moment we let government begin legislating non-obligatory morality(Actions that do not directly affect other individuals. Obligatory morality being theft, murder, rape, etc.) we gave up our autonomy to the mob.

    I have no problem with GLBTs. But they are fighting the wrong fight. They don’t deserve special rights. They should be arguing for the removal of the special rights granted to straight couples in the form of tax breaks, “benefits” bartering with employers and other such nonsense.

  26. I should point out that America is a REPUBLIC not a democracy. Republic is rule of law. Democracy is rule of the people.

  27. Democracy is a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.”
    — H.L. Mencken

    “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
    — John Adams, 1814

    I hope this won’t be a surprise to too many but we are not a democracy …. we are a republic. A democracy is rule by the majority. A republic is rule by law. The civil rights laws were the result of a republic form of government not a democracy.

    In theory both the majority and the minority must be governed by the same laws equally.

    “But seriously I, personally, really don’t care what you do in private. You can shoot dope, smoke crack and sodomize 30 people at home (as long as they are not children) and I don’t really give a rat’s ass.”

    What is so sacred about your home that you don’t think behavior done there won’t spill out of that home and into yours. We know from experience that many drug abusers cannot afford the act they do in private and end up breaking into your home or gunning down your kids to support their habit. And why not the underaged or dogs or whatever … as long as it’s inside the privacy of your own home.

    We have certain limits on behavior because we have learned the hard way what terrors some tendencies produce once they start.

    What a silly & arrogant mindset.

  28. Haha, good comic. But we have to remember that majority rule is not the ‘democratic method’ but rather one way of deciding things in a specifically styled democracy. Jean-Paul Gagnon is a great theorist to read concerning the misuse of the term ‘democracy’. I think this article is key:

  29. All ruling governments are subject to the problem of repressing an individual’s supposed rights. It could have easily been rewritten with the blond character declaring himself King to the same end. The US is a democratic republic to prevent the long term repression of the majority by the minority. In this way the majority gets the government it deserves (both good and bad).

    The superseding document the minority character longs for is a just ethical standard. If the majority characters had such, it would not matter that he was the minority. The standard they use would prevent his harm. (Because the majority seems to not have any ethics, the minority was rooked the moment he was not made king.)

    Unfortunately, in the case of gay marriage, the current ethical standard used by the majority appears to indicate that the minority is acting unethically. Therefore the majority is disinclined to support the wishes of the minority. It is then up to the minority to show that their actions are at least neutral, if not just. As well they must show that the majority is unjust in its current view point.

  30. I just love Ruben Bolling’s stylistic tribute to Mad Magazine’s Don Martin in this week’s cartoon.

  31. To two of the above:

    1: The idea that a State CHrhc or Relgiion dominated society and caused bloodhsed and so Americas Founders decided for a Secular State to aovid this is wrong. its the opposite wya round, they saw Governments take ovr Religions, not Religiosn tzke ovr Governments.

    Also, the udea that they were men of the Enlightenment so prefered Reaosn to God is oxymoronic. Why do peopel have to continue to accoisate Reason with Atheism? Heck, John Adams, Benjamin Frankin, and George Washington, as well as James Madison, were all Christians, Madison and Adams Devoutly so. (Franklin had been a Deist in his Youth but not by thetiem of the Revolution.)

    That said, not all Conservatives are Agaisnt the Ground Zero Mosque, either.

    Havign that out fo the way, I never liked Democracy, even Rpresenitive Democracy, as a SYstem. Its illogical to think that Votign leads ot morality, or even Freedom. The Feudal Monarhcies of the Middle AGes often had Freedom, and electorial Democracies often dont. The Soviet Union may today be seen as undemocratic, but it was actulaly Democracy that foudned COmmunism in the firts place.

    I actually prefer Constitutional Monarhcy in which the Monarch has real power, but shares it with an elected commons and an nelected arisocracy.

    By the way I am dyslexic.

Comments are closed.