Newspapers Refuse to Run ‘Opus’ Comics With Muslim Reference

August 26th, 2007 8:52 PM

Editor & Publisher reported Friday that 25 out of 200 newspapers that regularly publish the "Opus" comic strip will not run back-to-back Sunday episodes that include Muslim references and a sex joke (h/t Dan Gainor, emphasis added throughout):

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."

Think this would have been a problem if Lola was doing something that involved Judaism or Christianity? No, I don't either.

In fact, as you'll see from Sunday's strip which I include near the end of the post, the paranoia exhibited by papers afraid to publish this is almost offensive given the accepted level of atheism, agnosticism, and anti-theism -- aka secular progressiveness -- prominently and almost proudly displayed by most media outlets today. But I digress:

[Washington Post Writers Group Executive Sales Manager Karisue] 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.

Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is all about. In fact, if this is enough to scare papers away from religious jokes, maybe they should show the same restraint for all denominations.

Or, is that asking too much?

*****Update: For those having problems seeing the entire strip, please go here.