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Mad Definition of a Liberal

From about 12 to 15 years old, I was an avid reader of Mad Magazine. It released only eight issues a year — and I waited patiently for each one. My Mad collection grew, and I happily read each issue 20 or more times.

So many Mad memes have been imbedded and locked into my brain, only to leave after I pass to the next world. The younger brain is so powerful. My older brain cannot remember the plot of a movie I watched a year ago.

Here is my memory of a dialogue in the Mad satire “Star Blech.”

Kirk: Scotty, we need to get out of here. Give us all the power you got. Warp 6. Now!

Scotty: Aye Captain. I’ll put two hamsters on each treadmill.

Kirk: Two hamsters? Remember what happened last time?

Scotty: Aye Captain. We had thousands of hamsters a month later. I’ll make sure the engineering crew puts male hamsters with male hamsters and female hamsters with female hamsters.

Well, that was a little off topic. Now to get to the theme of this title, which is undoubtedly the reason you clicked to this article. I can’t recall the exact artistic details of this definition, but I know it came from somewhere in Mad.

Definition of a Liberal

A liberal is someone who writes a book called “How the Rich Exploit the Poor,” which becomes an international best seller, and then looks for tax loopholes.

While I have your attention. . .

. . . I have another Mad moment that is about our state of politics. Let me textually set up this Al Jaffee cartoon, circa 1970, for you:

A retail store. A well-dressed, somewhat smarmy, male clerk standing behind the counter. His facial expression and hand gestures show his appreciation that his customer has made a good choice. The customer is a short elderly lady. She is pointing to one of two cages. Each cage has a devil inside. Each cage is just a little bigger than the devil it holds. The devils cannot move much, with hands and feet sticking outside the bars of the cage. The devils are angry. The elderly lady is happily pointing to the smaller cage with the smaller devil. Her facial expression and hand gesture suggests she is saying: “I’ll take that one.”

The Caption:

Voting is like choosing the lesser of two evils.


Well, that Mad cartoon was from 50 years ago. It is still so relevant today. We haven’t advanced much, have we?

It really is time for new democracy.

BTW, Al Jaffee once said: “Mad was designed to corrupt the minds of children. And from what I’m gathering from the minds of people all over, we succeeded.”

I have to wonder how much Mad influenced me to figure out a new democracy. Mad's humor sure got me thinking around corners. 

Published on Medium 2022

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