05 Sep 2007

25 US Papers Censor Sunday Comics to Avoid Offending Muslims

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At least 25 of the 200 newspapers carrying Berkeley Breathed’s comic strip Opus, including the Washington Post, the comic strip’s own syndicator (!), refused to carry the last two weekly episodes.

Editor&Publisher reports that the Post’s Sales Manager explained that “some client papers hesitated to run a sex joke and others won’t publish any Muslim-related humor.”

But, as the Chicago Tribune makes clear, it doesn’t seem likely that mere mild sexual innuendo caused panicky editors at 25 newspapers to shun the last two episodes.

Some newspaper editors think cartoonist Berkeley Breathed might have crossed a line when he incorporated sexual innuendo into an “Opus” comic strip about a character’s conversion to radical Islam. But it’s not the first strip by the artist to poke fun at religion.

The cartoon ran in the Tribune, but not in The Washington Post, the strip’s home newspaper, or in a couple dozen other papers that pick up “Opus.”

Editors at the Washington Post reportedly showed the strips to Muslim employees, who disapproved of the depiction of the Lola Granola character dressed in traditional Muslim garb, declaring conservative Islamic views and making a sexual innuendo.

But the same care apparently was not taken with any of the previous irreverent cartoons that referenced Lola’s spiritual quest, which included introducing the Amish to nude yoga. The punch line of an Aug. 19 “Opus” poked fun at the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

The Weekly Standard wonders:

Why would editors have felt constrained to solicit the views of Muslim staffers?

Were all the Baptists in the Post newsroom consulted about the Jerry Falwell joke? Is “Doonesbury” shown in advance to all the Republicans in the Post newsroom?

6:32 MSNBC video

Islamic-themed comic strips:

26 Aug 07

2 Sep 07

Jerry Falwell-themed comic strip:

19 Aug 07

The same Washington Post which was not afraid to publish leaks disclosing secret National Security operations in time of war behaves like this over… cartoons!

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