The comic strip Dilbert has been dropped from multiple US newspapers in response to racist comments by its creator, Scott Adams, who called Black Americans a “hate group” and urged white people to “get the hell away” from Black people in a YouTube video.
Adams’s comments on 22 February came in response to a conservative organization’s poll which appeared to show that 26% of Black respondents said they disagreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white”. Another 21% said they were not sure.
The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post each said Saturday they were dropping Dilbert because of Adams’s comments.
Gannett, the largest American newspaper publisher, said in statement that USA Today Network – which includes more than 300 local media outlets in 43 states – would immediately cease publishing the cartoon.
“Recent discriminatory comments by the creator, Scott Adams, have influenced our decision to discontinue publishing his comic,” Gannett said in a statement. “While we respect and encourage free speech, his views do not align with our editorial or business values as an organization.”
An executive at Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer newspaper, Chris Quinn, said the decision to drop the strip was not “difficult”.
“We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support,” Quinn said. “Until we decide what to replace Dilbert with, you’ll likely see a gray box where it has been appearing.”
The Anti-Defamation League called the phrase “It’s OK to be White” a “hate symbol” and noted that it was popularized in 2017 as a trolling campaign by members of the notorious discussion forum 4chan.
“Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people,” the 65-year-old Adams said on his YouTube rant. “Just get the fuck away.
“Wherever you have to go, just get away. Because there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed. So I don’t think it makes any sense as a white citizen of America to try to help Black citizens any more. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no longer a rational impulse. So I’m going to back off on being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off.”
His comments were picked up on social media, igniting demands that Adams’s work be dropped by publishers who carried the comic strip.
“In light of Scott Adams’s recent statements promoting segregation, the Washington Post has ceased publication of the Dilbert comic strip,” the newspaper’s front office said on Saturday, also noting that readers had contacted the newspaper calling for the cartoon to be dropped.
A statement from the Los Angeles Times, which said it had removed four Dilbert cartoons from its pages in recent months for violations of its standards, added: “Cartoonist Scott Adams made racist comments in a YouTube livestream [on 22 February], offensive remarks that the Times rejects.”
The cartoonist has previously claimed that some of his projects have been canceled because he is white.
In 2022, he introduced the first-ever Black character to Dilbert, dubbed Dave the Black Engineer, whom he used to mock the idea of workplace diversity and transgender identity.
In June 2020, he referred to the cancellation of a Dilbert animated TV series 20 years ago as the “the third job I lost for being white”.
Thirteen months ago, in January 2022, Adams tweeted that was “going to self-identify as a Black woman” until Joe Biden picked his presidential nominee to the US supreme court.
“I realize it’s a long shot, but I don’t want to completely take myself out of the conversation for the job,” Adams said in that tweet.
Dilbert syndicator Andrews McMeel has called the strip “the most photocopied, pinned-up, downloaded, faxed and emailed comic strip in the world”.
According to McMeel’s bio on the cartoonist, Adams grew up a fan of the Peanuts comics and started drawing his own comics at the age of six. It said more than 40 Dilbert reprint books have been published.
The Dilbert Principle, published in 1997, looked at corporate America “in all its glorious lunacy”, according to Amazon, and became a New York Times bestseller.
Adams confirmed that his once popular cartoon was being dropped, and he said he expected that to happen.
“By Monday, I should be mostly canceled. So most of my income will be gone by next week,” he said. “My reputation for the rest of my life is destroyed. You can’t come back from this.”
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