After reading Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, which claims we’re living in the least violent period in human history, New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff decided he needed more empirical evidence. How better to gauge violence through the sweep of human history than through the pages of Eustace Tilley’s favorite periodical with its all-encompasing world view? What Mankoff found, though, disturbed him; 111 murders had been depicted in about 76,000 cartoons published since the 1930s. Oh, the humanity…
Briefly channeling his inner beancounter, he managed to fire up Lotus 1-2-3 on his IBM PC AT and produce the above graph to track the sketchy slayings by decade. Imagine his horror when the chart revealed a sharp increase in humor-based homicides under his editorship which began in 1997.
…I take full responsibility and am committed to reversing this disturbing trend. I’m beefing up police representation in cartoons and imposing the strictest gun-control laws in the cartoon industry. If all that doesn’t work, well, I’ll just make all of our cartoonists read Pinker’s book and get with the program.
It’s good to know that the delicate sensibilities of Upper West-Siders will be well looked after in the venerable weekly on a go-forward basis. At least as long as Mankoff’s on the job. Think of it as simple, common-sense cartoon control.