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October 11, 2010

WaPo Yanks Cartoon, Thereby Proving Cartoonist's Point

wheres_muhammed.gif Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the winner of this year's Unintentional Irony in Media award:

"Non Sequitur" is a popular comic that runs daily in about 800 newspapers, including this one. But the "Non Sequitur" cartoon that appeared in last Sunday's Post was not the one creator Wiley Miller drew for that day.

Editors at The Post and many other [Ed. Note: "many" is 20] papers pulled the cartoon and replaced it with one that had appeared previously. They were concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims.

Miller is known for social satire. But at first glance, the single-panel cartoon he drew for last Sunday seems benign. It is a bucolic scene imitating the best-selling children's book "Where's Waldo?" A grassy park is jammed with activity. Animals frolic. Children buy ice cream. Adults stroll and sunbathe. A caption reads: "Where's Muhammad?"

...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.

The WaPo's commendable concern about the adequacy of your IQ notwithstanding, some of you knuckleheads will no doubt foolishly insist that you're smart enough to read the funny papers without the expert advice of the WaPo's editorial staff. OK, go ahead but don't forget... you were warned....

Now admittedly the Blog Princess is nowhere near as smart as a WaPo editor, but she can see only two possible targets here:

1. The media's cowardly double standard with regard to offending people of faith. This, I might add, is the most obvious interpretation given the cartoon's caption:

"Picture book title voted least likely to find a publisher"

2. Muslims who use violence and threats to intimidate the media and silence critics of Islam.

Notably, the most likely target of Wiley's satire has nothing to do with Islam. Let's face it: when it comes to the press and double standards about religion, examples aren't exactly difficult to find:

In the past eight days, ABC News has filed two shocking stories about "a serious epidemic" of sexual abuse and rape of children in Kenya. Not only did the network report that "over 1,000 teachers have been fired for sexually abusing girls over the last two years," but it also relayed systemic cover-ups, police corruption, and perpetrator interference.

And while the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe have frantically and endlessly trumpeted decades-old abuse allegations in the Catholic Church from anywhere in the world, neither paper has found a single square inch to dedicate to these sickening new revelations.

Is there anything more entertaining than watching professional journalists turn themselves into rhetorical pretzels in a vain attempt to justify their blatant hypocrisy with regard to both the First Amendment and religious sensitivity?

This knucklehead thinks not. Fortunately, the editorial staff of the Washington Post stand ready to protect itself against criticism and rioting Muslims protect readers like myself from thinking too much.

I don't know about you all, but I feel safer already.

Posted by Cassandra at October 11, 2010 03:29 PM

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Comments

"Style editor Ned Martel... no relation."

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2010 05:04 PM

They were concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims.

Actually, this...cowardice...demonstrates that Muhammed is everywhere in the panel.

I read this, and other, comics on line; fortunately, GoComics had the stones to run the panel as drawn, on schedule.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 11, 2010 05:56 PM

Sorry, but I'm not seeing how this is any different from the mere threat of some obscure pastor burning a couple Korans warranting a, imo quite obsequious, response from nearly the entire chain of command. If Petraeus, Obama, et. al. were worried about extremist response in that situation, its hard to fault the Post for their response in this one.

Posted by: Rob Smith at October 11, 2010 09:49 PM

Sorry, but I'm not seeing how this is any different from the mere threat of some obscure pastor burning a couple Korans warranting a, imo quite obsequious, response from nearly the entire chain of command.

You mean, apart from the fact that the press hyped Petraeus' response and the Koran burning story and but refused to publish this cartoon?

Seems as though there's a pretty big difference (gosh, it's almost like the two things are diametrically opposed) between spotlighting something and burying it, but that's just me.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2010 09:59 PM

Or maybe the fact that Petraeus' comment was made in response to actual rioting in Kabul and elsewhere in the region whereas the Wiley cartoon was about the fear of hypothetical riots (which never occurred, even though other papers ran the comic)?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2010 10:24 PM

We are real close to losing.

Posted by: htom at October 11, 2010 11:17 PM

"Is there anything more entertaining than watching professional journalists turn themselves into rhetorical pretzels in a vain attempt to justify their blatant hypocrisy with regard to both the First Amendment and religious sensitivity?"

Somehow, I do not find the state of the Forth Estate entertaining at all.

Too much at stake here...

Posted by: camojack at October 12, 2010 01:15 AM

In the past eight days, ABC News has filed two shocking stories about "a serious epidemic" of sexual abuse and rape of children in Kenya.

Did it mention that AIDS is epidemic in Kenya and that the witch doctors have pronounced that the only cure for it is to have sex with a virgin -- in other words, a seven-year-old girl?

Posted by: BillT at October 12, 2010 05:10 AM

Seems as though there's a pretty big difference (gosh, it's almost like the two things are diametrically opposed) between spotlighting something and burying it, but that's just me.

My point is, they both caved to the threat of "extremists". Islamic extremeists are given a "beheaders veto". The difference is, you only seem to have a problem with it when the press rolls over.

Or maybe the fact that Petraeus' comment was made in response to actual rioting in Kabul and elsewhere in the region

I just "googled" "rioting in Kabul" and came up with 232,000 hits. It seems they riot daily in Kabul, and twice on Sunday. If a riot in Kabul is enough to make Petraeus bend over and grab the ankles, he better have a chiropractor on call.

Posted by: Rob Smith at October 12, 2010 07:30 AM

Stating the obvious (that burning Korans places US servicemembers in more danger) isn't exactly "bending over and grabbing his ankles".

You may not like it when people state the obvious, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2010 07:41 AM

I just "googled" "rioting in Kabul" and came up with 232,000 hits. It seems they riot daily in Kabul, and twice on Sunday.

What the MSM usually reports as a "riot" would be better termed a "noisy demonstration." Things don't usually reach true "riot" level until there's burning and rock-throwing, and this time, it reached burning and rock-throwing.

It probably didn't help that a fundie sect wrapped a banner around its headquarters saying "US Burns Qu'rans" and they cited *US* news sources as justification.

Posted by: BillT at October 12, 2010 09:33 AM

Stating the obvious (that burning Korans places US servicemembers in more danger) isn't exactly "bending over and grabbing his ankles".

I would characterize it as senior officials of the US govt interfering with a private citizen's First Amendment rights in order to appease religious extremists, IOW, "bending over and grabbing the ankles". Do you think Eisenhower would have ever felt the need to discourage burnings of "Mein Kampf" or MacArthur to discourage disrespectful images of Hirohito in US papers out of concern over increased danger to US servicemen? Should they of?

What the MSM usually reports as a "riot" would be better termed a "noisy demonstration." Things don't usually reach true "riot" level until there's burning and rock-throwing, and this time, it reached burning and rock-throwing.

Which really doesn't change my point that in both cases, the "Koran burning" and the "Non Sequitur" cartoon, both parties where reacting out of fear of what "religious extremists" might do. I'm bothered by both cases, but am more sympathetic to the Wa-Po. Employees of the Washington Post don't generally expect to become targets of religious extremists as part of their job, which can't be said for US servicemen.

Posted by: Rob Smith at October 12, 2010 12:53 PM

The First Amendment doesn't protect anyone against competing opinions. It prevents Congress from making laws that impede the free exercise of religion, infringe on the freedom of speech, infringe on the freedom of the press, interfere with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibit the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

The Constitution does NOT prohibit ANYONE from pointing out the consequences of speech, disagreeing with it, or criticizing it.

No sale.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2010 01:02 PM

"I would characterize it as senior officials of the US govt interfering with a private citizen's First Amendment rights..."

How, specifically, did Gen. Petraeus do that?

Posted by: DL Sly at October 12, 2010 02:09 PM

Do you think Eisenhower would have ever felt the need to discourage burnings of "Mein Kampf"...

You're comparing apples to cinderblocks. "Mein Kampf" is a political autobiography and screed outlining one man's plan to rise to power, which appealed to a fairly miniscule percentage of the world's population. A more accurate question would be, "Do you think Eisenhower would have felt the need to discourage burnings of German-language Bibles?"

"...or MacArthur to discourage disrespectful images of Hirohito in US papers out of concern over increased danger to US servicemen?"

US papers didn't lampoon Hirohito to begin with -- Tojo was a specific target, Hirohito wasn't. And you're evidently unaware of the fact that MacArthur specifically recommended that Hirohito be retained as the head of state in a post-war Japan.

Posted by: BillT at October 12, 2010 02:27 PM

You're comparing apples to cinderblocks. "Mein Kampf" is a political autobiography and screed outlining one man's plan to rise to power, which appealed to a fairly miniscule percentage of the world's population.

I think you, and Cass, are being deliberately obtuse, Bill. The Washington Post did the same thing Petraeus did, they allowed fear of religious extremists to dictate their actions. I think that's excusable for a civilian organization, like a newspaper, but not for a US Army general. There's a reason soldiers are issued guns by their employer and newspapermen are issued notepads.

Regarding the First Amendment implications, I have the, admittedly extreme view, that high government officials shouldn't be trying to discourage free speech rights or free exercise of religion.

US papers didn't lampoon Hirohito to begin with -- Tojo was a specific target, Hirohito wasn't. And you're evidently unaware of the fact that MacArthur specifically recommended that Hirohito be retained as the head of state in a post-war Japan.

Funny, a 2 second google search came up with a propaganda poster of Hitler, Musolini, and, oddly, Hirohito as a three headed snake with the caption, "Remember Pearl Harbor- Crush Them".

Posted by: Rob Smith at October 12, 2010 06:40 PM

I think you, and Cass, are being deliberately obtuse, Bill.

Or possibly we just don't agree with you.

You have no absolutely zero evidence that Petraeus allowed fear of religious extremists to "dictate his actions". The fact is that you really have no idea why he said what he said, as opposed to the WaPo's editors, who have told us why they refused to run that cartoon.

Since we're dealing in opinions here, I think you're being needlessly insulting. Unless of course you seriously meant to imply that Petraeus is a coward.

In your world, providing an honest assessment of the likely consequences of an event may qualify as cowardice but I am under no obligation to agree with you.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2010 07:05 PM

"Regarding the First Amendment implications, I have the, admittedly extreme view, that high government officials shouldn't be trying to discourage free speech rights or free exercise of religion.

Sooo, the answer to my question is...you're 'belief' - as in you're personal opinion? And this equates to proof of a specific charge of Gen. Petraeus, a "high government official[s]", "...interfering with a private citizen's First Amendment rights..." how exactly?

Posted by: DL Sly at October 12, 2010 07:12 PM

I think you, and Cass, are being deliberately obtuse, Bill.

I think you are ignoring my point -- that your comparisons were ill-chosen.

Funny, a 2 second google search came up with a propaganda poster of Hitler, Musolini, and, oddly, Hirohito as a three headed snake with the caption, "Remember Pearl Harbor- Crush Them".

Funny, I don't consider a couple of posters published immediately after Pearl Harbor to negate what I said, which was, "US papers did not lampoon Hirohito" -- they were following US policy:

"Hirohito was not attacked with such vehemence. There seemed to be a general belief that because of the reverence toward the Emperor by the Japanese people, he must be protected and kept in position to control the populace of Japan after the war. Paul Linebarger touches on this issue in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948,

It would have helped domestic American politics to call the Japanese Emperor a monkey, a swine, a lunatic, a witch-doctor or comparable names; some people did so. But if the American government had done so at home for the purpose of rousing its own public, the Japanese home public would have been roused even more with the net result that the Americans would have lost by such attacks.

and the OWI's Far East Training Program stated

The State Department and many others who knew Japan pretty well said, “It is just about as effective to attack the Emperor of Japan as if the Japanese were to attack George Washington.” The Emperor of Japan is a historic institution to the Japanese and it doesn’t do much good to call him names.

"The best way to create disunity in Japan…would be to take advantage of the loyal feeling the Japanese have for their institution of Emperor…to start spreading the idea that the military clique is ruling Japan and has shoved the nation into war by deceiving, misleading and misguiding the Emperor…"

http://www.psywarrior.com/AxisLeadersMonsters.html

I found (after a more extensive Google-search than two seconds) that several of the propaganda posters identified as depicting Hirohito were actually caricatures of Hideki Tojo.

Posted by: BillT at October 13, 2010 04:06 AM

Don't provoke the lions! They will maul you!

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 13, 2010 07:06 AM

I don't even try to provoke cute li'l Fuzzybear Lion(esse)s...

Posted by: BillT at October 13, 2010 02:18 PM

The Washington Post did the same thing Petraeus did.

You mean they took absolutely no action to stop an activity and only stated that such activity was a bad idea?

Because that's what Petraeus did. He merely made a statement.

Had the WaPo run the cartoon and written an editorial that such cartoon was a bad idea, then I could see the equivalence.

Regarding the First Amendment implications, I have the, admittedly extreme view, that high government officials shouldn't be trying to discourage free speech rights or free exercise of religion.

Petreus never discouraged "free speech rights". Not once did he ever say that that person shouldn't be allowed to burn Korans. He merely excersized his free speech rights in response to someone else excersizing their free speech rights. That isn't discouraging free speech rights, it's participating in them.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 13, 2010 03:46 PM

Secondly to suggest that a man who is willing to take an action that may subject himself to what he believes could be violent death will somehow be "discouraged" from that action by nothing more than a sternly worded statement is laughable.

What was Petreus going to do to him if he did it anyway?

Haul out the Finger Wag of Doom?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 13, 2010 04:22 PM

He merely excersized his free speech rights in response to someone else excersizing their free speech rights.

Rather, he criticized the consequences for being counter-productive to certain people and organizations.

US papers didn't lampoon Hirohito to begin with -- Tojo was a specific target, Hirohito wasn't. And you're evidently unaware of the fact that MacArthur specifically recommended that Hirohito be retained as the head of state in a post-war Japan.

That's way above his pay grade.

I think that's excusable for a civilian organization, like a newspaper, but not for a US Army general.

Otherwise known as NIMBY. The military's at war and everyone expects their time at the mall. A rather interesting philosophy of life you have there. A specific case of priorities.

I wouldn't say those have any resemblance to what's right or a better world.

There's a reason soldiers are issued guns by their employer and newspapermen are issued notepads.

So you somehow thought Rick (R) at Tower was issued a gun by his employer and told to do... what exactly.

Funny, a 2 second google search

Somebody reflecting for 2 seconds would realize it is irrelevant to post-war MacArthur reconstruction periods.

Did you not have enough money to pay google for 2 seconds of introspection?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 14, 2010 01:41 PM

I don't even try to provoke cute li'l Fuzzybear Lion(esse)s...

The newspapers are too full of errogance to know otherwise. That's why they got to be told. Again, and again, and again.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 14, 2010 01:42 PM

I also see some errogance on General Petraeus. After all, a lot of factions, like the Left, have a history of using his sentiments for their own ulterior purposes.

That's not just Arrogance, mind you. That is Errorgance.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 14, 2010 01:43 PM

There's a reason soldiers are issued guns by their employer and newspapermen are issued notepads.

And there's a reason boys like to play with toy soldiers and not toy newspapermen.

Posted by: BillT at October 14, 2010 02:18 PM

"And there's a reason boys like to play with toy soldiers and not toy newspapermen."

Unless, of course, they're Paris Hilton.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at October 14, 2010 03:07 PM

Paris Hilton is a newspaperman?

Posted by: BillT at October 14, 2010 03:12 PM

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