TOM THE DANCING BUG, In Which Fat Earl and Judge Scalia Have a First Amendment Throwdown Over a Nipple

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  1. I used to work at Showbiz Pizza Place, which later merged with Chuck E. Cheese. Right now, I am grinning big time…

  2. I still hold a grudge against Chuck E. Cheese for not letting me play in the ball pit when I was 9. It was my birthday! Their excuse was that I was too big. I can’t help it I was monstrously tall as a kid. I, to this day, opening bad mouth them every time I hear them mentioned. As seen in this post.

    1. Hmmm. Ball pit. Interesting story – Back in 1982, one of our assistant managers (at Showbiz) was asked by a filmmaker/photographer friend if they could do a photo shoot in the ball pit after hours. He checked with corporate, and they said sure (or so I am told). Well, the crew shows up with their models; two young women. Instead of setting up an old Hasselblad, they set up a video camera, and once the girls get into the ball pit, they immediately strip down and.. well, you know.
      Nobody was aware this was happening at first, until one of our game room guys comes running back to the kitchen and says “oh my God, they’re shooting porno!” (Me? I’m cleaning the bathroom and missed that part.)
      The assistant manager goes running out there yelling “what are you doing?!?”
      We closed the pit and spent the next few days cleaning every damned ball.

  3. I sure wish there were a way to make an argument about Scalia’s First Amendment hypocrisy without throwing video games under the bus.

  4. I still hold a grudge against Justice Scalia for not paying his newspaper bill when he was on my paper route. His excuse was that he was too busy. I can’t help it that at age 12 I was too shy to ring somebody’s doorbell and make them pay up. I had to quit delivering papers, and, to this day, openly bad mouth Scalia every time I hear him mentioned.

  5. What a horrifying view of our nation after the Supreme Court video game ruling!

    I’d have more to say, there is a Quentin Tarantino movie marathon going on at the local Kindergarten that I do not want to miss.

  6. If/when Scalia, in his last days on the bench, becomes part of the majority that overturns Miller v. California, Percival Dunwoody can go back in time and “correct” this strip.

    (nb: I love TTDB 4-ever)

  7. I think it’s about time there were nipples in Tom the Dancing Bug, because sometimes I have to work too hard to understand and enjoy this cartoon. Nipples pleasantly relieve me of this burden. Thanks, Ruben.

  8. I’m torn between “it’s just a game”, and “just a game where, holy shit, women are torn violently in two by characters who each take one leg and run in opposite directions”. How far is too far? I don’t know, and obviously Scalia doesn’t either, nor does his parrot Thomas.

  9. Because Video Games are only for kids AMIRITE?

    It’s not like the average gamer is 35 years old, right? And we all agree video games need to be held to a different standard than movies, music, art or literature, right? And we certainly have to agree that no one wants Big Government…unless it’s to protect us from being active parents. Or letting homosexuals marry.

    1. The supreme court case in question in no way suggested that video games are only for kids, or that adults should be barred from playing violent games. Rather, it was about a law that aimed to restrict what games kids can buy, like an official government version of the movie rating system (or the ESRB ratings, for that matter). This was ruled unconstitutional.

      1. I know what the court suggested (though there was an undercurrent of that sentiment from some of the justices, some of whom are too old to have ever played a video game and who, until this case, had no more experience with them than vague knowledge of Atari and Pac-Man). My point was that Ruben Bolling seems to make this an implicit point.

    2. We can’t let the gays marry and raise children or they’ll grow up to be homosexual cannibal serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer… who was raised in a Christian home by heterosexual parents… okay, never mind.

  10. I just realized what’s missing from every cutting-edge, bleeding-edge, next-generation game console: a ticket dispenser.

    Fuck “points.” What’s that, a Pac-Man point? A Tetris point? Nobody knows. Bring back the only universal currency the boardwalk ever needed, and put it in a box that spits them out at me right in my own living room.

  11. Technically, the first kid raping then slowly disemboweling the woman in the first panel is doing something obscene since rape is sex and sex is obscene and unprotected by free speech. The owner might have to cover all of that up with a massive machete wound or something… Long as it’s just disembowelment at close range by a crotchless man it should be just fine…

    I know this comic is taking things to the extreme, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe this sort of business -could- be opened based upon the recent ruling. Might be a fun experiment for a group of anti-violent-video-game nutjobs with too much money on their hands. Take the ruling to the absurd in hopes that it might help get things reversed for your cause…

    Hilarious stuff :). The scene that really put it in perspective for me was when Jon Stewart threw up the video of mortal combat with the woman being ripped in half from crotch to head in gory detail. I remember games of my younger days having blood and guts, but man, rendering it in HD with real-time physics on the bowel-splatter is really something on a whole different level. Anyone sitting down and showing that to my 2 year old would horrify me. I know it’s a parents job to keep kids from playing these sorts of games, but I guess as a parent myself, I was fine with stores being unable to directly sell these overly violent games to children.

    It’s kids, still under the protection of their parents. Nobody was saying it was illegal for those children to play said games, it was simply illegal for them to purchase the games. It put the ball in the parent’s court to decide if the child was mature enough to own said game, and would force them to buy “bloody disembowelments 5” for said child. I’m not sure I agree that this was a fundamental free speech issue because as far as I can see nobody’s speech was truly being repressed…… It required a higher level of parental involvement in order for children to get their hands on the most violent games, and I feel like that’s a net “good thing”.

    On the same vein, it seems like violent games are getting more and more gratuitous in their depictions/actions. It might just be me getting older and my values changing, but I can give a couple concrete examples. Dead Space 2 for one – I was enjoying the romp through the sprawl, killing alien zombie things and having a decent amount of fun. Then the game put me in a nursery filled with little crawling crying babies that exploded. I couldn’t do it. It made me sick and I decided finishing the game wasn’t worth shooting up little kids/babies in a school – even if they were “alien necromorph” babies.

    Modern Warfare 2 similarly disgusted me with it’s famous airport level. I’m an undercover operative with the US military trying to stop a terrorist by infiltrating his organization and helping to PREVENT terrorism. There I am, in the elevator, standing inches away from “markov” the evil terrorist. I’ve got a freaking machine gun in my hands, the elevator opens, I see the people walking around in the airport. My immediate thought was “oh my god, he’s going to shoot up the airport, I need to stop him”.

    I started to unload my clip into markov’s face immediately, and was greeted with a “you can’t do that, stay close to markov” warning as the game ended and the level restarted.

    No, there was no stopping it. Despite all the backstory, despite the fact that you were supposed to be stopping this dillwad, you are forced to walk through that airport watching as people die screaming, crawl on the floor dragging loved ones, run in terror. You could even join in and open fire. It was too real, too disgusting, and as the level drew to a close you get shot in the face anyway for being seen to be a traitor.

    I never finished the singleplayer mode of MW2 as a result.

    I want to enjoy epic games, but these games hit me on a visceral gut level that made me physically sick. I hope this isn’t a new trend, constantly trying to one-up themselves on disgusting acts until we hit the equivalent of a 2 girls 1 cup video game. I can’t be the only one who felt this way – I’m a human being with emotions and games are hitting a point where they are “real” enough to tug on them.

    Anyway, my child is still young, so I can’t say for sure which side of the coin I’ll land on later in life. I played some violent games as a kid, watched violent movies, enjoyed my share of violent books. Most of the kids I knew who couldn’t do such things due to overbearing parents were a bit “strange” – although that might have had something more to do with their particular religious upbringing. I get the feeling my wife will be very adamant about avoiding violent games, and I also get the feeling I’ll be sneaking in time with my son to kick his butt in the latest shooter on the holoscreen in full 5400P HD.

    1. As I get older my tolerance for gratuitous violence goes down (along with gratuitous t&a). I’d rather see more sexuality as part of a decent storyline than any more blood and guts in movies or tv.

    2. ‘Technically, the first kid raping then slowly disemboweling the woman in the first panel is doing something obscene since rape is sex and sex is obscene and unprotected by free speech.’

      NO. NO. NO. RAPE IS NOT SEX. RAPE IS VIOLENCE. Know this and repeat it until you get it into your brain.

      ‘Hilarious stuff :). The scene that really put it in perspective for me was when Jon Stewart threw up the video of mortal combat with the woman being ripped in half from crotch to head in gory detail.’

      Yes! It is so hilarious to dismember women in gory detail! /s

      ‘Then the game put me in a nursery filled with little crawling crying babies that exploded. I couldn’t do it. It made me sick and I decided finishing the game wasn’t worth shooting up little kids/babies in a school – even if they were “alien necromorph” babies.’

      So- you think rape is sex (??!), women being disemboweled is hilarious, but you can’t bring yourself to shoot the alien babies? ‘Cuz they’re baybeeeez? BUT, rape (which, as you may know happens mostly to women) and disemboweling women are A-OK.

      You make my skin crawl.

      1. I think you misunderstood the hilarious stuff comment. I took it to mean setting up an ultra violent operation to try to bring light to the problem we have.

        1. The problem that you think rape is sex? That’s a BIG PROBLEM. Rape culture: Google it. Also, consider seeking help.

          And, nice mansplaining there, telling me I ‘misunderstood’ your post. I read English, thanks.

      2. Woooooooah – I touched a nerve I was absolutely not aiming for. You are absolutely on-tilt here, please take a moment to re-read what I said.

        I was making a joke based upon the fact that a nipple slip was considered sexual and thus not protected speech, then comparing that to unsolicited cartoon-described vaginal penetration with a penis in a video game. I was making a genitals-sexual nipples-sexual jab, I wasn’t making a man-stance that rape is happy fun times for women everywhere. I’m pretty sure Judge Scalia would agree that a graphic depiction of a rape is “sexual” and “obscene” and thus not protected speech that his recent ruling says can be freely sold and viewed by children.

        Rape -is- violence and absolutely reprehensible to me. Since we’re on the topic however and since you’ve went ahead and accused me of a horrible act of defining rape as sex – when exactly did websters change the definition of “sex” to “An act between two consenting individuals touching genitals or other body parts who love each other and completely consent to the entire interaction from start to finish.”

        I have a feeling what you want the word “sex” to mean and what it -actually- means are two very different things. I -very clearly- didn’t mean “rape is sex” in the way you’ve interpreted it.

        And you’ve -totally- misread my comment regarding the “Hilarious stuff”. I was saying that the comic and the situation within it – a place that caters to showing children gratuitous violence which is constitutionally protected as long as it doesn’t show a nipple – was hilarious stuff. That the idea of someone -actually- doing this to prove an anti-violent-video game would be hilarious stuff. Hence the reason I put “Hilarious stuff” right after my comment about actually doing this in real life.

        THEN I discussed the jon stewart clip where the female character is graphically disemboweled. It was grotesque, I was disgusted watching it, and I feel that paragraph explains how I felt about it. I agreed with what jon stewart was saying about said images (that he was -fine- with the government keeping this disgusting crap out of the hands of children), and explained that I’d be horrified if someone showed it to my 2 year old. I in no way condoned it or said I was excited to see it, and my discussion of it came AFTER the “hilarious stuff” comment. I then went on to support my feelings further by discussing how I’ve been recently having physical gut negative EMOTIONAL reactions to violent video games and graphic depictions of gross, horrific, or EVIL acts. I’d feel -exactly- the same if I played a video game that started depicting a rape – especially if it was forcing me to take part in the action.

        Anyway, clearly this is a subject you care a great deal about. I apologize for treading upon your sensibilities even if it was in an absolutely unintentional way. Re-read my original comment as it was intended, and please understand that my words do not fit the reality you’ve constructed around them. I’m going to go ahead and calm down here as well – I’m sorry if I’ve come off harsh – your response was just so filled with hatred and anger being projected upon me that it’s put me on the defensive. I’m certain that while I may not share your particular experiences, I absolutely share your distaste of rapists or anyone who believes that rape is in any way justifiable or funny.

        And thanks to those here who tried to defend me and my comment. I appreciate the levity.

  12. Remember, Christianity’s central story is the horrible torture and murder of Jesus. There is no positive depiction of sex in the New Testiment. So sex is bad, violence is good and this is the mentality that is at the core of American culture.

  13. I hear that Chucky E. Cheese is working on a new upscale version of the chain called “Charles de Frommage”.

  14. ncinerate, I don’t think it’s a _new_ trend. I’ve been unable to play those games since Wolfenstein 3D.

  15. I know this cartoon is exaggerating but does Chuck E Cheese have extremely violent video games? Probably the most violent game I’ve seen in the ones near me is The Simpsons.

  16. So…. I guess Bolling is unfamiliar with cases like Ashcroft v ACLU, where Scalia voted with majority to overturn Child Online Protection Act on First Amendment grounds.

  17. DoctressJulia, if you can hold your reflexive outrage in check for a moment, the original comment can certainly be interpreted as saying rape includes the commision of a sexual act. It is not a denial of it as a violent act, but sex is a necessary part of a rape or sexual assault. The logic the poster seems to be expounding is that rape, because it is sexual violence, would be subject to censorship in a videogame under the current ruling because the sexual element could compel the state to act.

  18. Funny how even on BB, which routinely complains about being banned in public libraries and Persian countries for being too lascivious, most commenters seem to side against free speech, perhaps in part because it is Scalia doing the defending. Free speech is only important when the ideas are distasteful – that’s when it really matters. But most folks seem to toss any concern about protecting free speech out the window when it becomes offensive to them, and in this case that means most are more concerned about violence than a nip slip. Well I for one think the SC made the right decision. It may seem ridiculous when compared to the laws on sexually explicit material, and it may seem hypocritical, but it’s still the right decision in this case; the government should not be in the position of deciding what is appropriate and what is inappropriate speech – that is the rule that has given this country both great personal liberty and journalistic excellence. Porn and violence are a negligible side effect.

  19. I remember watching my friend playing the first Alone In The Dark when I was seven I think. It haunted me for years after it like most of movies with scary elements. Watching bits of the Darkman made me puke the whole night. On the other hand most of my friends could watch/play almost anything from seven years upward.

    I believe the effect of these kinds of things depend on the person. My vivid imagination made video games and movies very real for me. I’m 24 and still afraid of the dark in my own flat.

    Holy shit, if I saw/played modern movies/vidya when I was smaller. I think I would be insane. On the other hand it was my imagination which played its tricks on me so would’ve I really become a different person?

    Also, western worship of violence is pretty sick if you think about it. Same thing with american hate of naked human body. You guys need to get things together.

  20. Oh, for the love of God, America. A cerification system is unconstitutional now? Just like adequate medical care? Does the constitution just say “ONLY BAD IDEAS ARE ALLOWED TO BE LAWS” or what? Jesus Christ.

  21. Apple, there’s no problems with a certification system. The current video game rating system and the MPAA movie rating system, and the old Comic Code are all perfectly legal. But they’re voluntary industry systems, which are in no way mandated by any government agency. The government telling you what you can and cannot say or watch is the issue.

    1. The thing that makes me wonder however is the government -isn’t- telling you what you can and cannot say or watch. Game producers could produce the same game with or without the law, the only thing effected was the sale of said game to minors.

      It wasn’t even saying a minor couldn’t play the game. They just needed a parent to be involved in purchasing it.

      The government says you can’t sell porn to minors, or alcohol, or cigarettes, or guns. All perfectly reasonable things not to sell to kids. I’d personally say an ultra-violent video game falls under the same category of unreasonable. If a parent wants to buy it for their child because they deem the child mature enough to handle it, so be it. Nobody was saying that if you bought this material for your kid you were endangering them or breaking any laws (unlike alcohol for example).

      Making it into a free speech issue based upon this seemed silly to me.

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