The Not-So-Funnies?

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I read the comics this morning, for work. I was happy to see that Jon Arbuckle is still soliciting advice from his sardonic cat; Hagar is still pillaging from someone, somewhere in Scandinavia; and Beetle is still stationed on Camp Swampy, with Cookie and Plato. For these guys, life in Comic-land doesn't seem to change. But in other strips, like Opus, characters comment on current events every day. Lately, that has been problematic.

In her column yesterday, Deborah Howell, The Washington Post's ombudsman, responded to readers' complaints that the newspaper's executive editor, Len Downie, pulled Opus from the paper's pages twice recently, on Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, because they were "inappropriate." (A character in Opus, Lola Granola, became "a radical Islamist").

On weekdays, The Washington Post fills three pages with comics. How provocative should they be?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

...apparently the syndication service is displeased with either you or me. The link to the two Opus strips is blocked by a watermark (at least on my screen)...

Sent by Jack K., the Grumpy Forester | 2:55 PM | 9-17-2007

Why do you always ask,"What's your sense on such and such?" Shouldn't you ask,"How do you perceive such and such?"

Sent by DAVID OPDAHL | 2:57 PM | 9-17-2007

Read the comic. People need to lighten up. Folks complain about anything. It's just humor.

Sent by Tad | 2:59 PM | 9-17-2007

They are not blocking anything but your ability to copy the image, move your cursor. oy.

Sent by milton | 3:09 PM | 9-17-2007

If speech never offended anyone, nobody would try, through fiat or violence, to stifle it, therefore there would be no need for constitutional protection for speech? If speech is censored out of fear of giving offense or out of fear of violent retribution, then the first amendment becomes irrelevent and there is indeed no freedom of speech.

Sent by Al Bartholow | 4:02 PM | 9-17-2007

It's a shame that western humor and satire has shown a hole. We cower in fear that we might offend religious zealots who consider violence and slaughter to be measures of piety and devotion. By the beard of the prophet, I hope we in the West regain our nerve and begin again to expose the full foolishness of the human experience thru unfettered satire.

Sent by Andrew Tubbiolo | 9:43 PM | 9-17-2007


Sent by TIM | 12:57 AM | 9-18-2007

I firmly believe in the freedom of speech and expression. It's just a cartoon, people should losen up.... However I do feel there is a lot of "It's okay for me to insult you, but don't you dare insult me." especially among conservatives.
For example, everyone among conservative circles expressed openly how the cartoon should be published because it is a freedom of expression right. Yet when hip-hop artist Kanye West was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone dresed as Jesus on the cross, there was a huge outry about how wrong and offensive it was.

Why is it okay to offend muslims but not christians? What happened to Kanye's freedom of expression rights? Is this not hypocritical?

Sent by Brandon | 1:29 AM | 9-18-2007

I think we will always have this problem. Things will be censored because 5 people complain. I think we should let them complain if they want, but we should censor less. Of course, there is quite a bit of fear of violent reaction, and no one wants to be "that newspaper."

Sent by Lisa Hopkins | 10:51 AM | 9-18-2007

This strip is reminiscent of "All in the Family" we were really laughing at Archie Bunker and not with him. I think this strip makes us aware that we as Americans, don't always understand other cultures.

Sent by eytan ben-amnon | 11:01 AM | 9-18-2007

I imagine they made their decision out of fear of suffering the same sort of retribution as the Danish press, though the cartoons in this case are certainly less offensive. However, the Post has now set a precedent it will find hard to live down. The question "why wasn't this cartoon or that cartoon pulled" will be asked of every marginally questionable strip, effectively raising the bar for what they can print in their own paper. Bad judgement call on their part.

Sent by Melanie | 3:20 PM | 9-18-2007

I have discussed this with Deborah Howell. I also pointed out that the comic that ran in the Columbus Dispatch, the one that portrays Iranians as cockroaches is much more derogatory and unwarranted. The comic ran on Sept. 4, 2007 and can be seen here:

Sent by WrenchDevil6 | 7:22 AM | 9-19-2007

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