Comics

"Laughter is a language we can all understand"

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Haven't we all been waiting to hear what For Better Or For Worse creator Lynn Johnston has to say about the intoonfada?

People who wear the apparel of their faith live their faith 24 hours a day as a statement of their constant and unwavering devotion. Comedy and sarcasm of our concept of God may not be liked by many, but we have a history of tolerating it.

They do not. Can we not respect this deeply religious way of life?

I believe these cartoons have a right to exist. The media does not have the right to use them callously in the name of freedom. Freedom for whom? If one innocent person dies because of this capricious incident, publishers must accept the blame.

On behalf of conscientious humorists and illustrators worldwide, I want to say to the nation of people who have been understandably offended—an apology is due. This is not comedy. If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

Laughter is a language we can all understand. For the sake of decency and good taste—stop reprinting this inflammatory image and allow a people already in crisis to heal.

In today's FBOFW: A wacky generation gap reversal involving Canadians with bulging eyes.

The Comics Curmudgeon's foob page.

Addendum: Johnston dealt with a controversy of her own in 1993 and 1997 by outing a teenage foob character as gay—still a hot thing at the time. More than 20 papers canceled the strip, and Johnston had tart words for them. "For all the people who say this shouldn't be in the comics, please write all of the television stations who put garbage on," she said in a 1993 interview. "This is a banana peel compared to the hordes of pollution that's on television." By the time she revisited what was still called the "gay issue" in 1997, things had calmed down. "People should fear their own misconceptions," she said.

NEXT: Might As Well Be Shooting At the Sun

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  1. If one innocent person dies because of this capricious incident, publishers must accept the blame.

    Bullshit. The one who killed that innocent person bears the blame.

    I’ve always kind of liked Lynn Johnston. What a disappointment this is.

  2. Can someone help me out? If it’s true that the same cartoons ran in Egypt 5 months ago to little or no effect, why are certain people being so ignorantly sensitive today to this “Gulf of Tonkin”-esque religious outrage?

  3. Lynn Johnson offends me.

    She offends me so much, that I might just kill somebody. The blood will be on her hands.

    Apologize now to all you have offended! I am sure there are many more like me.

  4. I think I also caught Cavanaugh’s exposure of Johnston’s Stevie Wonder lyrics ripoff.

  5. The media does not have the right to use them callously in the name of freedom.

    This seems to reflect the confusion I think has been created by focusing on the “right to free expression” as a justification per se. Of course we have that right, but that’s only because we have the right to do whatever the hell we want unless it violates someone else’s rights. And Jennifer is right that no one has the right to not be offended. But unless we make clear (and yeah, I know it’s not going to happen, at least not in the MSM, but hell, gotta start somewhere) that violating someone else’s rights to person and property is what you cannot do unless such a violation (or viable threat to such) has already taken place, I think we’re doomed to fuzzy and vague descriptions of what exactly is wrong with this picture.

    As for:

    If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

    I don’t know what to say about this offhand but OY. Hmm, guess what I have to say about it is just what I said right above.

  6. Imagine how Family Circus might handle the controversy:

    Who drew these offensive cartoons that made all those people go on a killing rampage?

    Not me!

  7. I believe these cartoons have a right to exist. The media does not have the right to use them callously in the name of freedom.

    What exactly is she saying here–you can write or draw whatever you want, but if anybody might find it offensive you then have to lock your work in a box rather than show anybody? It’s not “freedom of speech” if you only have the right to talk to yourself, and it’s not “freedom of the press” if you don’t have the right to show others what you print.

  8. If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

    Spoken like a true Canadian.

    Canada: A nation of hall monitors.

  9. That’s deranged. The cartoons have rights, but the cartoonists do not?

  10. What utter jackassery.

  11. If one innocent person dies because of this capricious incident, publishers must accept the blame.

    Does this mean we also have to blame Jodie Foster for the shooting? Or was it more Scorsese’s fault?

  12. Canada: A nation of hall monitors.

    What’s worse is that implies it’s a nation of halls!

    LET ME OUT OF HERE!!!

  13. If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

    Of course. Hate literature. Like Huckleberry Finn, A Catcher in the Rye, The Satanic Verses, Letters From Earth, Catch-22, anything written by Vonnegut ever, Mencken’s entire library of work, Ambrose Bierce, Kipling, Hugo (obsessive French inspectors have feelings too), and, well, just about any literature worth a damn.

    Perhaps Brokeback Mountain should be banned. After all, it upsets fundies.

  14. Jennifer: Bullshit. The one who killed that innocent person bears the blame.

    As far as I know, most of the deaths came in this case because the police shot rioters. Are you blaming the police for the deaths or the rioters themselves?

    Example:

    Muslim anger over the controversial caricatures turned ugly in Afghanistan on Wednesday as four people were killed when police opened fire to control stone-throwing rioters in Afghanistan during a fifth day of protests against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the army said.

    Earlier, police said security forces had opened fire in an effort to prevent protesters from marching on a US military base in the city.

  15. Number 6–

    Another problem with that statement is that it means anything can be classified as hate speech after the fact, depending on how someone else views it. I disagree with the whole notion of a legal category called “hate speech,” but even then there’s a difference between saying beforehand “This will be considered hate speech if you do thus-and-so,” versus “publish it and we’ll call it hate speech if enough people get offended.”

    On another thread on this topic I mentioned a very dark humor book I read called “Only Begotten Daughter,” by James Morrow; at one point in the book Julie, the half-sister of Jesus, visits Hell and discovers that every human being with the exception of Elijah is in hell, because to go there all that’s necessary is for ONE person, anywhere, to think you belong in hell.

    Would Johnston and those who disagree with her apply the same standard to hate speech? If not, then how many people WOULD have to be offended by something in order for it to qualify? Have they even thought things through that far? “If nine people are offended you’re okay, but if ten people are offended you’re in trouble.”

  16. Jennifer-I think the problem is that they haven’t thought at all.

  17. Jennifer-I think the problem is that they haven’t thought at all.

  18. Jennifer: Bullshit. The one who killed that innocent person bears the blame.

    As far as I know, most of the deaths came in this case because the police shot rioters. Are you blaming the police for the deaths or the rioters themselves?

    Well, anonymous, would you say that somebody violently rioting over a cartoon falls into the category of “innocent” person?

  19. I liked Lynn Johnson better when she drew utterly forgettable cartoons…why’d she have to go open her mouth? Oh right, freedom of speech.

  20. I believe these cartoons have a right to exist.

    Cartoons have rights now? Oh, crap, I just threw the Sunday paper in the woodstove!

    If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

    This is silly. Obviously you have to figure in whether a person’s feeling pain would be a reasonable reaction. There are many out there who might feel pain at yesterday’s Mark Trail, in which Mark rigs a large branch to strike some dognappers who are chasing him in a swamp (“hey, my Dad was a fat guy who died that way!”). Applied to this particular situation, the rule should be rewritten “If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain [in a group of people whose moral intuition is still in the Jurassic Era], it enters the category of hate literature.” Doesn’t exactly have the same ring of truth, now, does it?

    If a person’s response to being offended is violence, then that person has no right to be taken seriously. Unless that person is Space Ghost, of course.

  21. “Laughter is a language we can all understand. For the sake of decency and good taste?stop reprinting this inflammatory image and allow a people already in crisis to heal.”

    What the hell is she talking about here? These two sentences don’t even go together. I don’t think humor was ever the real intention of the cartoons anyway. And I don’t care how deeply religious a person is, there’s no way seeing a cartoon – or more likely simply HEARING a cartoon exists – could possibly be so traumatic as to cause a need for a healing period.

  22. That’s Not Funny; My Brother Died that Way

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33660

    Hey, listen, guys. Listen up. This is a great party and everything, and it’s cool you invited me and all, but I have to speak up about that scene in Police Academy you were just talking about.

    You know that part where the guy flies off the motorcycle handlebars, and he flies right at the horse’s ass and gets his head stuck in it? Remember how funny you said that was? Well, I just want to say I didn’t appreciate that too much, because my brother died that way.

    I’ve never really talked about what happened to Brad, because it’s just so painful to discuss. But on Oct. 11, 1995, he slammed his motorcycle into a fruit cart and flew over the handlebars, sending his head straight up the ass of a police horse. By the time the paramedics got there to pull him out, he’d suffocated to death. Frankly, I don’t see how you guys could think that kind of thing is funny. Or how a director could consider it appropriate for a comedy.

  23. So what’s to keep someone from saying that Lynn Johnson’s boring-ass cartoon about a typical nuclear family is not reinforcing some patriarchal hierarchy that people of non-heterosexual lifestyles find deeply offensive and hateful? And that we should thus ban it? Virtually everything in our culture is offensive to someone, and would have to be banned.

    I can only breath a deep sigh of relief that Lynn Johnson wrote this. If given a choice between reading her cartoon or the list of ingredients on my cereal box each morning, I’d choose trisodium phosphate and the even more unpronouncible things on the cereal box. On the other hand, if “Calvin and Hobbes” creator Bill Watterson had written such idiocy, my life would be in crisis.

  24. Could someone tell me what would make a successful western woman stand up for people (Muslim fundys) who, if they had their way, would gladly strip away her career, freedom and life as she knows it?

    One other thing about the whole intoonfada – on many blogs, Muslims (or perhaps Christian fundy trolls) posted that if THOSE cartoons were free speech, then if they drew cartoons depicting Jesus, Mary, and Mary Madgelene in a threesome (or some such – the posts always involved 1) Jesus and 2) sex), would THAT be free speech? I wish I wasn’t as lazy as I am, or I would have replied that “yes, that’s right” to all of them.

  25. If any of this were actually about a dozen cartoons some of this might actually make sense to debate.

    This is about power. This is about the power of the Islamic world to enforce its will, its theology, and its laws on the rest of the world.

    The question we need to be debating is not about printing cartoons but about are we willing to stand up for our values and our beliefs or will we submit to theirs.

  26. Could someone tell me what would make a successful western woman stand up for people (Muslim fundys) who, if they had their way, would gladly strip away her career, freedom and life as she knows it?

    Maybe a bizarre sort of arrogance–“They don’t like Western women, but they’ll make an exception in my case once they see what a great person I am.”

  27. “They don’t like Western women, but they’ll make an exception in my case once they see what a great person I am.”

    Johnston is no doubt familiar with the variant: “They don’t like Americans, but they’ll make an exception in our case once they see what great people Canadians are.”

  28. Maybe a bizarre sort of arrogance–“They don’t like Western women, but they’ll make an exception in my case once they see what a great person I am.”

    That and the notion of every aging, pompous ass’ who thinks that their time on the planet lends credibility to a what is nothing more than an opinion…

    “As a cartoonist with over 30 years’ experience, I am outraged by the way cartoons are being used to inflame a world religion.”

  29. >

    Jennifer – perhaps another possibility is her certainty that “laughter is a language we all understand.” Those wacky Muslim fundys are always up for a chuckle. I can see the sitcom now:

    LIFE WITH LYNN & ABDUL

    Lynn: Gosh, Abdul, do I have to wear this burqa just to go to the supermarket?

    Abdul: Of course! You don’t want to look like a prostitute, do you?

    Lynn: Well, according to your imam, I already AM a prostitute!

    **Canned Laughter**

    Even Albert Brooks failed on the topic:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433116/

  30. Isn’t she Canadian? They don’t really believe in the First Amendment the way we do. Indeed, aren’t Canadians almost by definition the straw men of H&R?

  31. I love our western freedoms and ideals. But sometimes I wonder…What’s the bigger sin? Drawings in poor taste by some ignorant, victorian educated buffoons anxious to display their stupidity and insipid narrow mindedness to the world? Or violence, outright murder and hate which are all supposedly and expressly forbidden by Buddhism, Judiaism, Christianity, and Islam? Committed by followers who know they are forbidden from this. The riots show an alarming lack of faith.And a large amount of pent up frustration. The vast majority of riot leaders are no more followers of any religion than my dog.Just crass opportunists. In the big picture, it is the leaders of these riots who are offending God.He (?) can rise above those cartoons. Rather than do the work that they have been extolled to do, they take the easy way out.Riots and intimidation.Murder and brutallity. They should be ashamed at their insult of (in this case)the Prophet Muhammed.
    As for the rest of you, get off of your superior than them western high horse and start to deal realisticaly with these people. They’re poor, dis-enfranchised, hungry, cold and taught by; preached to,and subjected to governments and leaders who regard them as just numbers.Religious leaders who don’t give a damn….We and ours don’t need to add to that.
    Actually the people who drew the cartoons, and the people who are fanning the riots have a lot in common. Neither cares who they hurt to further their own goals, and they are willing to foist the blame on someone else when things get a bit too hot.You really can’t plead innocence when your objective was to insult, humiliate or harm someone from the get go.The drawings were a way of showing off the artists superiority.Better than people who worship a divine being, rather than themselves.Smarmy and snotty.A little like going into a Baptist Church or a Mosque and loudly announcing a series of insults and racial epithets.
    Now that it’s time to accept responsibility, no one wants to stand up…Let’s put this fire out and try to prevent it from happening again. (Yeah,…like that’s gonna happen!!)

  32. As for the rest of you, get off of your superior than them western high horse and start to deal realisticaly with these people.

    What would you have me do?

  33. Johnston is no doubt familiar with the variant: “They don’t like Americans, but they’ll make an exception in our case once they see what great people Canadians are.”

    Tim is obviously familiar with the First Canadian Article of Faith: No matter how bad things are up North, it’s always worse in the States.

  34. Isn’t she Canadian? They don’t really believe in the First Amendment the way we do.

    You’re right, we should try to understand them and their different system. All this talk about “free expression” is probably offensive to them and thus hate speech!!

  35. Could someone tell me what would make a successful western woman stand up for people (Muslim fundys) who, if they had their way, would gladly strip away her career, freedom and life as she knows it?

    I used to hear people talking admirably about the swift justice that countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran would bring to criminals – you know, cutting fingers and hands off thieves – and wish we could get some of that here in America. I’d suggest that to have that, you’d also have to bring their style of authoritarian rule and all the other justice that comes with it. They’d usually shrug and say something like, “well, I bet we wouldn’t have as much crime”. Since 9/11, I don’t hear people wishing that for our criminal courts anymore.

    But Lynn Johnston thinks their system would be just great for our civil courts.

  36. You really can’t plead innocence when your objective was to insult, humiliate or harm someone from the get go.The drawings were a way of showing off the artists superiority.

    You know these were the objectives of the artists…how?

  37. They do not. Can we not respect this deeply religious way of life?

    No.

  38. “Could someone tell me what would make a successful western woman stand up for people (Muslim fundys) who, if they had their way, would gladly strip away her career, freedom and life as she knows it?”

    Because the threat of that happening is about the same as that of FBofW winning a Pulitzer Prize?

  39. Xerpent, this was about fear. The fear that intolerant, mindless religious nuts want to impose on Western Civilization as a whole. If you dare to criticize the prophet, and by extension, Islam, you will die.

    Conflating ‘insulting’ someone with ‘harming’ them is a way to get around the fact that the Danish cartoonists did not commit violence; the protestors (often) did. You can state your beliefs about why those actions deserve mitigation, but more likely than “cold and hungry” they are just thugs.

    Hardly equivalent to “going to a Baptist Church or mosque and insulting them” these cartoons were printed in a newspaper – where one should expect ideas – even if juvenile, or “smarmy and snotty”. Reigning orthodoxies of either religious or political correctness shouldn’t apply unless the owners of the newspaper want them to.

    Where do you draw the line? What speech do we “voluntarily” forgo to ensure no one is ever offended again? ANY non-positive references to religion?

    You want someone to stand up and be responsible? How about the rioters? How about the Danish Imams who faked cartoons that were MUCH more offensive than the ones originally printed? How do you suggest we “deal realistically” with people who view the world through fourteenth century eyes?

  40. “This is a banana peel compared to the hordes of pollution that’s on television.”

    Hmmm, was she saying that her strip was bad but just not AS bad as the “pollution” on TV?

    Kinda seems like she didn’t get it even back when she was on the right side of the issue.

  41. “You really can’t plead innocence when your objective was to insult, humiliate or harm someone from the get go.The drawings were a way of showing off the artists superiority.”

    What? This was not the objective at all. The underlying message was about suicide bombers acting in Mohammed’s name. Right?

    Alright, i’m just gonna say it. I think every newspaper in the free world should print the cartoons imediately. Not to harm insult or humiliate, but to show that we will not be intimidated by a bunch of violent protests. I am constanstly baffled by people like Lynn Johnston acting like the TINY insult of depicting their prophet is worse than all the violence. This isn’t even close to the first time Mohammed has been depicted/insulted in western media, art, literature, etc. The fact is that they (muslims) are mad that someone who isn’t muslim broke their laws. Doesn’t anybody realize that almost everything about our way of life breaks their laws in one way or another. If the western world backs down on this, what’s next?

  42. “As for the rest of you, get off of your superior than them western high horse and start to deal realisticaly with these people. They’re poor, dis-enfranchised, hungry, cold and taught by; preached to,and subjected to governments and leaders who regard them as just numbers.”

    When they stop killing people over fucking doodles, and learn to respect other people’s rights, even if they disagree, I’ll get off of my high horse.

    Until then, I cordially invite you to feast upon my scrotum.

  43. On one hand we are fond of defending the dogma of free speech as being something so important that it cannot be allowed to be repressed.

    On the other hand, we are fond of arguing that there?s no way anybody should be held responsible for the results of their speech because, well, it?s just speech.

    Which leads one to wonder why it?s so important to defend, if speech has no actual effect on anything?

  44. Because the threat of that happening is about the same as that of FBofW winning a Pulitzer Prize?

    FBofW was nominated for a Pulitzer in 1993, so it’s not impossible that it might win someday. Although Johnston says she’s ending the strip in 2007, so it’d better happen soon.

  45. Which leads one to wonder why it?s so important to defend, if speech has no actual effect on anything?

    As one of the most colossally magnificent geniuses in human history said not too long ago, “If freedom of expression isn’t dangerous, it isn’t worth defending.”

  46. Indeed, Tim.

    Of course, the same could be said for violence, which is the real way things get done.

  47. Also, if it’s not dangerous, it probably doesn’t need defending. “We should all live in peace and harmony” is not a statement that will get censored often.

  48. Which leads one to wonder why it?s so important to defend, if speech has no actual effect on anything?

    Who said speech has NO effect? We’re just saying that publishing a cartoon did not cause these riots; the rioters themselves did, by choosing to take offense.

    And I’m appalled by people who would actually say that feeling insulted justifies any violent behavior you commit afterwards.

  49. “We should all live in peace and harmony” is not a statement that will get censored often.

    That statement is very offensive to religious fundamentalists who do not wish to live in peace with infidels and heretics.

  50. Who said speech has NO effect? We’re just saying that publishing a cartoon did not cause these riots; the rioters themselves did, by choosing to take offense.

    And I’m appalled by people who would actually say that feeling insulted justifies any violent behavior you commit afterwards.

    I’m not necessarily justifying anything, but it’s a little silly to say that a person “chooses” to take offense to something.

    Otherwise, just choose not to be appalled at the violent behavior that resulted from the cartoons.

  51. Mohammed is a false prophet and any mention of him offends my religion. Many hundreds of thousands agree with me in the United States.

    Xerpent, how can I not be offended? Can you stop the mentioning of Mohammed?

  52. I’m not necessarily justifying anything, but it’s a little silly to say that a person “chooses” to take offense to something.

    You may not “choose” to take offense, but you damn sure choose to act violently because of it. I don’t blame anybody for being offended by these or any other cartoons; I blame them for acting violently.

  53. I’m not necessarily justifying anything, but it’s a little silly to say that a person “chooses” to take offense to something.

    So you’re saying it’s biologically determined: There’s an “offended gene,” and being offended is not a “lifestyle choice.” Lynn Johnston, who came down on the nature side of the debate in her gay-teen series of FBofW, would probably agree with you. As gay teenage character Lawrence said back in Old ’93: “It’s not like I want to be gay! Do you think I haven’t tried to be like everyone else?”

  54. I’m not necessarily justifying anything, but it’s a little silly to say that a person “chooses” to take offense to something.

    Not silly at all. There are many schools of thought that, in various ways, will assert that our emotional reactions are themselves choices that we control. Learning to control these reactions is a building block toward attaining any state that might be considered “higher consciousness”. This is a fundamental element of meditation, for example.

    A concrete example of people learning to “choose” to take offense is the 1980s PC movement

  55. Self-flagellation is always good for cheap entertainment, isn’t it? It’s like the boilerplate columns that invariably follow some awful event and inform us that “we’re all to blame” for (insert calamity here). It’s especially fun to see this kind of calptrap for someone in the humor business. Reminds me of when SCTV funnyman Bobby Bittman would earnestly look into the camera and say, “folks, as a comic, in all seriousness…”

  56. Hakkha takka dirka dirka!!
    mekka lekka fatwa khahakka!!!

    The Family Circus always makes we want to destroy something.

    “Today is a gift…that’s why it’s called the ‘present’ !”

  57. Whether someone literally “chooses” to take offense, or at least allows it, is something that can probably never be proven one way or another and maybe is best left for the philosophers.

    But Dan T, what IF someone cannot help but be offended? What’s the upshot?

    If your point is that the cartoonists are not above criticism, well fine. Criticize away. As always, the best response for speech (in any form) of which one does not approve is more of the same. What is not an okay response is violence. The only thing that justifies violence (defined here as any violation against person or property) is the initiation of the same. Voila, the foundation of libertarian thought.

  58. The only thing that justifies violence (defined here as any violation against person or property) is the initiation of the same.

    Actually, what justifies violence is the means to successfully carry it out. All human politics are based on the abilty to use violence, and those who are best equipped to perform it are the ones who make all the other rules.

  59. Dan T,

    I believe what you have described was once called sophistry. Anyway, you’re using a different meaning of the word “justifies” than I was. I meant in an ethical or moral sense.

    As to what practically or literally constrains the men with the guns from doing whatever the hell they choose to do, that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Other men (and women) with guns are one thing. Belief in the legitimacy of the authority of those who give them orders is another. Remember that a general is powerless unless those he commands heed his authority. There’s probably a whole lot more to the issue than I’m qualified to describe adequately. Suffice to say, as I have already, that it’s an entirely different issue. So, in other words, way to change the subject.

  60. fydor, you’re probably right that I unintentionally changed the subject.

    My view is that obviously the cartoons did piss off a lot of people to the point of violence – to me figuring out why and how is more important than simply saying “that shouldn’t happen”, especially when the nature of morality is so subjective that the Muslim response would be “the cartoons shouldn’t have happened”.

  61. my guess is that you didn’t get several of ’em, since you don’t know what “Valby” is, for example… nor did the people who reacted as barbarians – probably they didn’t even see the cartoons…

  62. >>If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

    This empty-headed pious PC notion, spouted every day, all day long, on television and in op-ed pages, by breast-beating, hand-wringing ignorant simpletons that no matter what we do, we shouldn’t ever offend anyone, is the crux of the problem.

    We should be more careful of people’s feelings, we’re told by the sanctimonious pundits of all those cowardly newspapers that refused to publish the cartoons.

    Yeah, right. The press is careful of everyone’s feelings all the time–got that? And when it accidentally steps on someone’s toes, it apologizes and makes it all better. Right?

    As far as I can tell, the fucking media’s entire raison d’etre is to provoke and offend. And there’s a lot to be said for that: speaking truth to power and all that.

    Whether or not people choose to be offended, there is no constitutional right not to be offended.

    Talk about offensive: The neo-Nazis won the right to march in Skokie, Illinois, home of many Holocaust survivirs, some years back. And the ACLU defended the neo-Nazis.

    Disgusting as it found the neo-Nazis, the ACLU had the right idea–it defended their absolute right of free speech and assembly.

    We started on this slippery slope as soon as someone had the bright idea to create that hideous encroachment on our right to free expression called “hate speech.”

    There’s a very thin line between political correctness and censorship/thought control. We ought to observe it more carefully.

  63. We need to revive the old saying “Everybody’s friend is everybody’s fool.”

  64. We need to revive the old saying “Everybody’s friend is everybody’s fool.”

  65. fydor, you’re probably right that I unintentionally changed the subject

    Well I’m glad you didn’t know what you were doing rather than doing it intentionally! 🙂

    the nature of morality is so subjective

    Sez who? Well, I agree that people differ on it, and in that limited sense it’s subjective. But that does not preclude you or I from taking a definitive stand. And that’s what some of us here have done. You seem to be taking a definitive stand that…there is no definitive stand?

    My view is that obviously the cartoons did piss off a lot of people to the point of violence – to me figuring out why and how is more important than simply saying “that shouldn’t happen”

    I don’t think the two considerations in the latter half of your passage are mutually exclusive. One can easily do both.

    But look, evidently you think there’s something to learn from the violent reactions of the Muslim rioters. Instead of lecturing us on not being interested, why don’t you lead the way on describing what that may be. I can’t vouch for everyone else, but I promise I’ll pay attention to what you say.

    My own view is that it’s bad manners to gratuitously insult someone. Now, whether it’s gratuitous or not is, unlike prohibitions from violating others’ rights to their person and property, rather subjective. All other things being equal, good manners are…good. But there are other considerations. Sometimes people need to say things that others aren’t going to be happy to hear. The free flow of ideas can be very valuable. But I haven’t examined the cartoons in detail and I can neither speak for the artists nor their publishers regarding their value to them nor do I have a firm opinion myself regarding their value. It basically comes down to there’s pros and cons to saying something potentially offensive but potentially valuable versus keeping your mouth shut. I tend to prefer the former. At least you know where people stand.

    As for the rioters, it’s not rocket science. They seem to have a religion wide victim complex. I don’t know what to do about that. I believe they deserve all the deference good manners affords, but at the same time, as I’ve already said, some things are more important than good manners.

    Okay, your turn.

  66. And once we have agreed not to print a cartoon because it offends Muslims, what about our culture will offend them to the point of riot next?

  67. Our brazen, immodestly dressed women?

  68. Lynn Johnston is the creator of the best comic strip of our day.
    Al Capp was the creator of the best comic strip of yesterday.
    H&R would be having such a field day with Al if he were still alive.

  69. My view is that obviously the cartoons did piss off a lot of people to the point of violence

    My view is that the cartoons gave a few imams the idea that they could stir up some useful violence in the middle east.

  70. Johnston ascribes to a particular mindset among Western liberals:
    That non-Western people who aren’t like her aren’t capable, somehow, of determining right from wrong, violence from protest, anarchy from social righteousness.
    What a terrible, deterministic attitude. What bullshit.

  71. Johnston subscribes to a particular mindset among Western liberals:
    That non-Western people who aren’t like her aren’t capable, somehow, of determining right from wrong, violence from protest, anarchy from social righteousness.
    What a terrible, deterministic attitude. What bullshit.

  72. “Lynn Johnston is the creator of the best comic strip of our day.”

    Uh. No. That distinction belongs to Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson brought high art and philosophical insight to a medium considered disposable, even by the people who publish it.

    Plus there were dinosaurs.

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