Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yes, Even Cartoons WITHOUT Mohammed In Them Must Be Censored!

  • Have you ever gotten angry because you read a cartoon that had no clear message?
  • Did you find yourself getting aggravated because the point of the joke was not clear?
  • Have you ever gone ballistic because you couldn't find Waldo?
Then I am sure you will empathize with the editor at The Washington Post who had to pull last Sunday's "Non Sequitur" by Wiley Miller from the print edition.



Washington Post Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, spells out the message of the cartoon:
Miller's cartoon is clearly a satirical reference to the global furor that ensued in 2006 after a Danish newspaper invited cartoonists to draw the prophet Muhammad as they see him. After the cartoons were published, Muslims in many countries demonstrated against what they viewed as the lampooning of Islam's holiest figure.

Miller's Sunday drawing also keyed on "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!," a free-speech protest this year by cartoonists responding to what was widely interpreted as a death threat from an Islamic cleric against two animators who depicted Muhammad wearing a bear suit in an episode of the "South Park" television show. If enough cartoonists drew Muhammad, protest organizers reasoned, it would be impractical to threaten all of them.
But even though Mohammed does not appear in the cartoon, it is still too provocative. Yet, we are assured by the editor that the fact this cartoon by replaced by another had nothing to do with fear of insulting Muslims with the mere mention of Mohammed's name. No, it was due to stylistic reasons:
Still, Style editor Ned Martel said he decided to yank it, after conferring with others, including Executive Editor Marcus W. Brauchli, because "it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message." He added that "the point of the joke was not immediately clear" and that readers might think that Muhammad was somewhere in the drawing.
I hesitate to think of how many political cartoons will now be banned from The Washington Post because of either obscurity or lack of humor.

This from the paper that prides itself on having confronted Richard Nixon.

Note: The Washington Post's Comic Riffs blog points out that The Washington Post was not always so squeamish. Here is the cartoon Wiley Miller did on February 20, 2006:

Michael Cavna notes:
Wiley's "Muhammad" comic comes in the wake of this year's "South Park" controversy over satirizing Muhammad; Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris's poster art in support of "South Park" having spawned "Everybody Draw Muhammad! Day"; and such illustrators as Norris, Lars Vilks and Kurt Westergaard having been placed on a death-threat list by Yemeni American cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi.
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