Colleagues know that I like to follow the exploits of Twain (or, more
accurately, how Twain is used) today, so someone slipped me a cartoon:
"Pendex" by McKenzie dated April 23, 2003. Next to three iconic sketches
of famous people, the large caption on the left says, "Famous Dead
Americans So NO To 'Homeland Security' . . ." and on the right Ben Franklin
with the balloon, "Those who would give up an essential liberty for
security deserve neither liberty not security!" To his right is Thomas
Jefferson with his balloon, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for
good men and women to do nothing." And furthest to the right is Mark Twain
with his balloon, "This is BULL ****!!"
Now, I think Twain would be deeply disturbed by repression in the name of
preserving democracy, and I feel comfortable with him hanging out with Ben
and Tom. However, he would never have used profanity, at least not in
print, so I think it's the cartoonist using Twain for his own voice. Also,
given the fact that the other two figures have quotes they actually said
attached to them, I'm disappointed that the cartoonist couldn't come up
with Twain's own words. However, it says something about Twain's
contemporary image: he's the man who cuts through pretense to get to the
heart of the matter.
Take care -- and take cover.