Why We Love Scott Adams

Another story that helped brighten my day. I’ll let you know that I have a Dilbert cartoon pinned to my cube wall, where no one can hold meetings because all the meeting rooms were renamed with inspirational names and no one knew where they were supposed to go. The exact thing happened to our offices a few years ago.

Seems Scott Adams is going after the bosses of an employee (now former employee) who posted a Dilbert cartoon where the bosses were called drunken lemurs. The actual story has a link to one of the cartoons.

‘Dilbert’ retells story of Iowan fired over comic

Is it a case of art imitating life, or life imitating art?

“Dilbert,” the newspaper comic that routinely ridicules self-important office managers, is taking aim this week at an Iowa company that fired an employee for posting a “Dilbert” strip in the office.

In a bit of self-referential cartooning, “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams has penned a series of strips that indirectly describe the plight of Dave Steward, a former security supervisor for Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington. Steward, 50, a resident of Fort Madison, was fired by the casino last fall after seven years of employment. He had posted on an office bulletin board a “Dilbert” strip in which the protagonist compares his bosses to a bunch of “drunken lemurs.”

Casino managers were not amused. By reviewing surveillance tapes, they determined that Steward was responsible for posting the cartoon. They fired him and accused him of not being a “team player.”

The dismissal became national news after The Des Moines Register reported the outcome of a hearing at which the casino challenged Steward’s claim for unemployment benefits. The casino’s human resources director, Steve Morley, testified that “upper management” was offended by the cartoon. “Basically, he was accusing the decision-makers of being drunken lemurs,” Morley testified.

The judge in the case sided with Steward and said his actions represented an error in judgment, not intentional misbehavior.

In a new series of “Dilbert” comics that begins today, Steward’s bosses — represented by the strip’s infamous Pointy-Haired Boss — are lampooned for their actions. Steward is depicted by Wally, the strip’s bespectacled, coffee-swilling office drone. Steve Morley is portrayed by Catbert, the evil human resources director.

In one of the strips, Adams gives his take on Steward’s dismissal.

Catbert: “Wally, I have to fire you for posting a comic comparing managers to drunken lemurs. You won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you can prove you were stupid as opposed to malicious. Can you prove you’re stupid?”

Wally: “Is there another explanation for working here?”

Another strip features a reporter from the “Dogbert Gazette” pursuing the story and searching for quotes to support his thesis that the man responsible for the firing is a “humorless stain on the soul of humanity.”

Adams acknowledged in an interview that Steward’s firing was the impetus for this week’s series of comics.

“I know good comic fodder when I see it,” he said, “and any chance to mock the humorless is worth the effort.”

Asked whether he was amused, honored or embarrassed to be immortalized in “Dilbert,” Steward said it was a combination of all those things. He said he is a big fan of Adams’ work.

“I have five of his books,” Steward said. “My wife and I both comment on how they relate to (the casino). She worked there from 1994 to 1998, so she knew what I was going through. The day I was fired, she went to work and the same comic was on several of the bulletin boards where she works. Nobody got fired.”

Morley declined to comment on the new “Dilbert” comics.

Steward, who is still looking for work, said the news stories about his dismissal last year prompted a lot of people to get in touch with him.

“I received a lot of ‘attaboys’ from everyone,” he said. “Ex-employees, current employees and patrons were not happy about me getting fired for something so trivial.”

As for this week’s comics, Steward said he probably will add them to his scrapbook.

But will he ever post a “Dilbert” at his workplace again?

“If I thought I would get the same results as I did that time, no,” he said. “I hope to work somewhere that has a sense of humor — when I find something.”


One response to this post.

  1. I love Dilbert.

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