Banned Opus Strip
The Opus strips for August 26 and September 2 have been withheld from publication by a large number of client newspapers across the country, including Opus’ host paper The Washington Post. The strips may be viewed in a large format on their respective dates at Salon.com.
That’s the end of his commentary, although he illustrates the page with this large single panel:
Q&O‘s Billy Hollis excoriates these papers as “complete and utter cowards” who “have voluntarily handed over their own freedom to publish to the over-reactive sensitivities of medieval fanatics.” Ed Morrissey dubs it “Dhimmitude” and notes that, in running Breathed’s previous installment, they had “no problem satirizing Jerry Falwell and Christian beliefs of the afterlife.”
Editor and Publisher‘s Dave Astor reported Thursday that,
At least 25 of the 200 or so “Opus” client newspapers might not run the Sunday-only comic’s next two episodes, which feature Islamic references and a sex joke. That’s according to Washington Post Writers Group Executive Sales Manager Karisue Wyson, when contacted today by E&P. WPWG Editorial Director/General Manager Alan Shearer added that more than 25 clients might not use the strips because the syndicate hasn’t heard from about 150 of the 200 papers it alerted. “Whenever something lands close to the edge, we give editors enough notice” in case they want to run substitute comics, said Shearer.
Berkeley Breathed’s Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 strips — which comprise sort of a two-part series — show the Lola Granola character wanting to become an Islamic radicalist (and wear traditional Muslim clothing) because it’s a “hot new fad on the planet.” Content also includes what Shearer described as “a sex joke a little stronger than we normally see.”
Wyson said some client papers hesitated to run a sex joke and others won’t publish any Muslim-related humor, whether pro or con. “They just don’t want to touch that,” she said. Violent protests took place after a Danish paper in 2005 published cartoons picturing Muhammad. Shearer told E&P that WPWG checked with a couple of Islamic experts to see if the “Opus” strips might be offensive, and they said the comics were OK. But he understands why some papers might still be wary.
Like Morrissey, I was a big fan of “Bloom County” during its run but I never cared for the “Outland” sequel or this one. And this particular installment doesn’t strike me as funny, not because it’s insulting to Muslims, but because most of the panels amount to wasted space. Still, it’s ridiculous not to run the strip.
What’s especially ironic is that Breathed manages to insult two religions in a single panel:
Somehow, I don’t think these papers were objecting to making fun of the Amish.
The full strip is thumbnailed at right. See my Danish Muslim Cartoons page for the collection of strips that sparked mass mayhem and instilled fear in the Western media establishment. See my Danish Muslim Cartoons category archives for previous posts on that subject.