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It Appears Borders Is Carrying the Harper's Issue

That Contains the Mohammed Cartoons.

UPDATE: Just got the article and read it -- it is generally very good, though there's quite a bit in it that I disagree with. And it helps illustrate, I think, what some (including me) have argued: It's hard to seriously discuss the issue without showing the cartoons and talking about them one by one.

Incidentally, one of my disagreements with Art Spiegelman is in his characterization of the Mohammed-with-two-veiled-women cartoon as "An overtly racist caricature of an angry Muhammad." What's racist about it? That he has a big beard and a big nose? But they're not displayed in a way that makes them objects of mockery or derision -- the negative component of the image is his seeming anger, but that's not a racist commentary.

In any case, though, how can one possibly judge whether or not the cartoon is indeed racist -- as some commentators have alleged the cartoons generally, or some in particular, are -- without seeing it for yourself?

Finally, to Spiegelman's credit, he provides his own cartoon that he describes as "My final solution to Iran's anti-Semitic cartoon contest," which strikes me as on-topic, smart, and even humorous in its own blacker-than-black way.

Bruce F. Webster (mail) (www):
So...is this because Borders has quietly rethought its policy after the scathing criticism it received for not selling the 'Mohammed Cartoons' issue of Free Inquiry--or is it because Borders cannot afford to offend Harper's the way it did Free Inquiry? ..bruce..
5.18.2006 8:57pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Hard to tell, which is one reason I noted in my earlier post that I don't entirely agree with Robert Bidinotto's analysis.
5.18.2006 9:02pm
Steve:
Come on, Prof. Volokh. Don't miss your chance to engage in a little blogosphere triumphalism. Everyone else will!
5.18.2006 9:38pm
Syd (mail):
Did Borders usually carry Free Inquiry?
5.18.2006 11:07pm
Josh Morgan (mail) (www):
I have added you to my newly created blawg directory, www.juristblogger.com.

If there is anything we can do to enhance your blawging experience, please let us know.
5.18.2006 11:17pm
Truth Seeker:
I thought the racist accusation had something to do with the overly long eyebrows, but many older men have long eyebrows and it wouldn't be racism anyway because Arabs aren't a race, they're an ethnic group.
5.18.2006 11:45pm
Truth Seeker:
Another legal issue in the article is that Harpers says that the 1871 Nash cartoon is copyrighted by Corbis and that is not possible. Once something goes into the public domain it can never be re-coyrighted. What Corbis did was buy a large collection of images and maybe it's copyrightable as a collection (probably not) but when they provide an image to someone like Harpers they probably require a copyright notice even though they can't have a copyright in it. It appears to be a scam to make the world think they own all the rights in order to collect royalties. In reality anyone with a copy of an old public domain inage can rent it out or give it away.
5.18.2006 11:58pm
Ben Coates:
A lot of what Corbis does is just provide ready-to-use digital images of various subjects so you can pay them a royalty instead of going to the trouble of photographing/scanning the item yourself. They don't hold the copyright on the 1871 public domain image, but they hold a copyright on the digital scan of it they made, which you can't use without paying and crediting them.
5.19.2006 12:15am
David M. Nieporent (www):
but they hold a copyright on the digital scan of it they made, which you can't use without paying and crediting them.
They may claim they do, but that's rather dubious.
5.19.2006 12:51am
goldsmith (mail):

but they hold a copyright on the digital scan of it they made, which you can't use without paying and crediting them.


Bridgeman Art Library v Corel Corp.
5.19.2006 1:24am
uh_clem (mail):
C'mon, don't waste our time talking about cartoons. The real question is: did you finish the puzzle?
5.19.2006 1:41am
Froggie McFrog (mail):
uh_clem: I used to subscribe to Harper's solely for the puzzle, Lapham annoyed me sufficiently that even the joy of the cryptic wasn't enough to justify me paying for the mag.
and yes, I always finished the puzzle :P
5.19.2006 9:44am
Froggie McFrog (mail):
*until Lapham... *sigh* PIMF!
5.19.2006 9:45am
davod (mail):
I don't know whether this is enough to me bak to Border's.
5.19.2006 10:28am
uh clem (mail):
Froggie,

I'm in a similar circumstance: for the last decade or so I've subscribed basically only for the puzzle. Lapham is unreadable, and ever since Paul Toth left for "This American Life" the rest of the mag hasn't been worth much. Occasionally there's an article worth reading, but it's truly a magazine in search of an editor. We'll see if the new guy breathes any life into it. It can happen - look at what Michael Kelly did with The Atlantic before his untimely demise.

Meanwhile as long as the puzzle is in the back, I'll pay the buck an issue for the subscription.
5.19.2006 11:35am
BobH (mail):
"The real question is: did you finish the puzzle?"

Of course. In less than 30 minutes. In ink.
5.19.2006 12:38pm
BobH (mail):
And Uh Clem [great Firesign Theatre reference, by the way] has it right about Harpers: the ONLY worthwhile thing in the rag is the puzzle.
5.19.2006 12:40pm
Justin (mail):
It's very hard, as a Jew, to take another Jew, who surely has a background in Nazi propoganda, seriously when he says things like:

Incidentally, one of my disagreements with Art Spiegelman is in his characterization of the Mohammed-with-two-veiled-women cartoon as "An overtly racist caricature of an angry Muhammad." What's racist about it? That he has a big beard and a big nose?
5.19.2006 1:21pm
agog:
I finished the puzzle in 29 minutes, in totally permanent ink. Are you guys proud of me?

Those of you who only get Harper's for the puzzle ought to at least skim the Readings each month. There are usually a few interesting selections.

Finally, if the characterization of that cartoon as 'overtly racist' is the biggest bone Eugene found to pick, he's trying too hard.
5.19.2006 2:46pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Not the biggest bone -- just the one that struck me as worth noting, likely because it connects to my (and Spiegelman's) general point that people do need to see the cartoons in order to fully understand this controversy.
5.19.2006 2:50pm
agog:
Fair enough. I know I hadn't taken the time to seek out the cartoons on the net (though I didn't follow this issue as closely as some), and seeing them alongside Spiegelman's description of the facts was certainly helpful.

But, the 'reviews' of each cartoon were clearly opinion, in contrast to, say, his presentation of the facts or conclusions about the various parties' behavior. Since I haven't followed the controversy as closely as you, I'd be interested to know what you found disagreeable in the less obviously subjective portions of the article.

Thanks,
5.19.2006 3:27pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
As what funny animal would Spiegelman draw Arabs? In his Maus, Jews are mice, Germans are cats, Americans are dogs, the French are frogs, and the Polish are pigs. Are camels too obvious?
5.19.2006 5:07pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Camels would look too strange walking on their hind legs, I think.
5.19.2006 5:42pm