Beetle Bailey tells kids violence is funny

To the editor:

The comic strip “Beetle Bailey” has been around since 1950, and this paper has carried it as long as I can remember. I’ve never been a fan myself, so most days I just glance at it briefly without giving it much thought, but Monday’s strip caught my attention. If you haven’t seen it, Sgt. Snorkel has beaten Beetle so badly that he’s hospitalized. Snorkel visits Beetle in the hospital, not to express remorse but to taunt his victim.

This is a recurring, almost daily theme in “Beetle Bailey.” Snorkel is an authority figure with a violent temper. Beetle, his subordinate, is half his size. The “humor” often revolves around the violent beatings that Snorkel regularly metes out, usually for minor infractions or no reason at all.

The comics page is probably the only part of the newspaper that is frequented by young children. And almost daily they are being shown that bullying and violence are not only acceptable but funny. Perhaps we should ask children who are bullied on the playground, or victims of domestic violence, if they think “Beetle Bailey” is funny.

Maybe in 1950 abuse, violence and bullying were considered ripe material for humor. But this paper prints “Doonesbury” on the editorial page instead of the comics page because its political and social commentary might offend someone if it was presented as humor instead of opinion. How does one justify presenting far more offensive material as humor for children?

It has probably been a long time since anyone in the print media has given any real thought to the content of this comic strip that has been around since before most editors were born. If so, maybe it’s time to look again. Violence and bullying are not funny, and presenting it to children day after day as a source of humor isn’t funny, either. Time to drop this strip and let the kids laugh at “Garfield.”

Karl Zaunbrecher

Saranac Lake