Thursday, February 09, 2006


Not since South Park has a cartoon managed to offend so many people so fast.

Last September, a Danish newspaper asked cartoonists for submissions on the subject of the censorship of Muslim issues. They published 12 of the drawings they received featuring the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Some of the drawings, it has been suggested, were not done in great taste. When word of the “blasphemous” cartoons got out, Muslim protest ensued.

As you know, nothing draws a crowd like a crowd, and with protest came curiosity. Folks around the world wanted to understand WHY there was such public outrage over a few fucking cartoon drawings. Since they’d become such a hot topic, a number of other European newspapers decided to publish the cartoons – an editorial decision which, in hindsight, served to both educate the curious masses and enrage angry Muslim protesters from Baghdad to Bangladesh.

Apologies were demanded. But instead of apologies, Western newspapers and governments defended their publication of the cartoons as free press and expression. That institutions of the West would defend blasphemous caricatures of the revered prophet Mohammed further infuriated the nation of Islam. And, as Jim Croce astutely observed, "You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the old lone ranger and you don't infuriate Muslims." The gauntlet was officially thrown down.

One of the newspapers in France that published the cartoons had to evacuate after receiving bomb threats. Protesters threw firebombs and rocks at the Austrian Embassy in Iran. The Danish Consulate’s building in Lebanon was torched. Muslims around the world, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Indonesia, have been protesting pretty much around the clock. Rioters are throwing stones and knives as they attempt to gain entry to Western embassies and air bases. Police have fired upon crowds, inciting further violence. Sales of American flags skyrocketed as eager rioters rush to burn the stars and stripes. [Sidenote: If I were a flag manufacturer, I'd be focusing my distribution efforts on foreign markets. Think about it. Old Glory can last 20 years or more flying from a flagpole in Flagstaff, but won't last ten minutes out of the plastic in Fallujah.]

The most extreme government protest came from Iran, which fanned the flames of this controversy by cutting off all trade ties with Denmark. Then the President (of Iran, silly!) announced a government-sponsored cartoon contest soliciting drawings that mocked the holocaust. Yes, really. He said he would be curious to see how the Western media would treat such “freedom of expression.” Not to be outdone, an online vendor here in the States (Metrospy) has announced it is now selling T-shirts with one of the offending drawings on it. The scary thing is that it's quickly become their biggest selling item.

So by now you've got to be wondering: Where the hell can I find these horrible cartoons? I would post them here for you but that I have little desire to become any more of a walking target than I already am. Instead, I’ll just refer you to the fearless folks at the Brussels Journal. Click here and judge the controversy for yourself. They're all posted at the bottom of the page for your review.

Much ado about nothing if you ask me.

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