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The Other Offending Opus:

The other Opus comic that many newspapers refused to print is here. I don't find it any more inflammatory or risque than the last one.

oldirishpig (mail):
Talk about spineless. This is what they were afraid to run?
9.2.2007 11:48am
liberty (mail) (www):
I am, however, offended by all those asses in the advertisements on the website.
9.2.2007 12:10pm
Dave N (mail):
I didn't find the strip particularly funny--but that is a reason for a newspaper to CANCEL it, not CENSOR it.
9.2.2007 12:21pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
It almost seems like piling on to point out how this sudden paroxym of "sensitivity" for Muslims is completely lacking for any other religion. In fact, the media spend a good deal of time thinking up new and creative ways to offend the sensibilities of Christians.

I wonder... why the difference? It's something, I can't quite put my finger on it... oh yeah, cowardice.
9.2.2007 12:35pm
cirby (mail):
Berkeley Breathed used to be a bit further out, as far as religion goes, and didn't get banned for most of them.

Like this one.
9.2.2007 1:42pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I wonder... why the difference? It's something, I can't quite put my finger on it... oh yeah, cowardice.

Yup.

1. To say or do something offensive about most religions is daring, challenging, and any who object are just overly-sensitive whiners.

2. To say or do something that *might* be seen as offensive by the most overly-sensitive is verbotten, if those overly-sensitive people might just blow you up.
9.2.2007 1:45pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
You would think that guys in academia would get the point.

The point is not WHAT is said. The point is that a non-Muslim is saying something about Islam.

Tnis cannot be allowed. Surely you have experienced the same with feminists? Afrocentrists? The Atzlan wing of the Chicano movement? Or [insert aggrieved group here]?
9.2.2007 3:24pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
There's an interesting inverse correlation between sensitivity to criticism and the content of the religion: the more offensive the ideas of the religion are to common decency and the less defensible they are on rational grounds, the more sensitive its proponents are to criticism. It isn't an accident that Muslims react with violence to even mild criticism while Buddhists try to enter into a dialogue or ignore criticism entirely.
9.2.2007 4:06pm
Brian K (mail):
I would expect that supposedly educated people wouldn't be bigots. But you guys have proven me wrong.
9.2.2007 4:13pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"didn't carry the two" ... yes, I think that might be my all time favorite.
9.2.2007 4:35pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

I would expect that supposedly educated people wouldn't be bigots. But you guys have proven me wrong.

Hardly. There's no bigotry here, rather, anti-bigotry. The very thing for which people here are criticizing Islam is its extreme intolerance for other views.
9.2.2007 4:50pm
Brian K (mail):
you are generalizing a view held by a small minority of muslims to all muslims...that is bigotry.

it is the equivalent of criticizing all of christianity based on the actions of the phelps family.
9.2.2007 5:07pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
you are generalizing a view held by a small minority of muslims to all muslims...that is bigotry.

it is the equivalent of criticizing all of christianity based on the actions of the phelps family.
Yes, it would be the equivalent. If there were approximately 34 radical Islamists in the world, rather than hundreds of thousands or millions.

Or perhaps you missed the widespread violence over the Muhammed cartoons, or, for example, the riots in Nigeria that killed scores because some beauty pageant contestant said that Muhammed would have approved of the pageant. Or, you know, Al Qaeda or Hezbollah or Hamas.

Remind me the next time the Westboro Church blows up a commuter bus, and its memebrs are hailed as heroes for doing so, okay?
9.2.2007 5:14pm
Brian K (mail):
anti-bigotry. The very thing for which people here are criticizing Islam is its extreme intolerance for other views.

would this be the same kind of "tolerance" some (many?) christians practice when they say we should tolerate and not criticize their gay bashing?
9.2.2007 5:14pm
Brian K (mail):
Remind me the next time the Westboro Church blows up a commuter bus, and its memebrs are hailed as heroes for doing so, okay?

easy. there was that string of abortion building bombings a while ago. link

and yes "hundreds of thousands or millions" is a gross exaggeration. and people with beliefs equally intolerant as phelps' number greater than 34.

but i'm going to stop this here...my intent is not to get into a pissing contest about which religion is more intolerant of others.
9.2.2007 5:22pm
JB:
If the moderate, sensible Muslims (and they do exist, I go to school with many) want to be heard, they have to talk significantly louder than they have been, in more fora.

Any group is known by its loudest members. That's the way things are and it's not going to change. It's very hard to outshout men with guns and rioters, but Islam will continue to be vilified as long as those are its loudest voices.
9.2.2007 5:56pm
Elliot123 (mail):
It was a great comic strip. I have many times witnessed Saudi women at the beach in Saudi Arabia draped head to foot in a black abaya and black head scarf while the temperature hovered around 110. When they wade out neck-deep into the water the abaya floats up on the surface and surrounds them in a circle of black. Then they will come out of the salt water and sit in the sun still wrapped in the drenched abaya.
9.2.2007 6:13pm
Elliot123 (mail):
BrianK: "would this be the same kind of "tolerance" some (many?) christians practice when they say we should tolerate and not criticize their gay bashing?"

Those Christians are correct in their demand that we tolerate their gay bashing, but incorrect that we should not criticize it. We all tolerate it. And the Christians in question tolerate the gay advocates, too. Both expressions are tolerated on this blog and in just about all quarters of society. We hear so much from both sides that the toleration is self-evident. That's one of our great strengths.

However, I'm not sure either side demands the other refrain from criticism. I haven't heard that, and would be very interested in who demands to be immune from criticism. I suppose someone does, but perhaps they are the illusive 34?
9.2.2007 6:21pm
James Fulford (mail):
Here's a Ahiida.com, referenced in the strip. It sells swimsuits for Muslim females which cover everything but hands, feet, and face, and are, in fact called Burqinis. (TM)
9.2.2007 6:55pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'you are generalizing a view held by a small minority of muslims to all muslims...that is bigotry. '

But, evidently, just about 100% of the Muslims working in the Post newsroom.

Besides, you are wrong. If a majority of Muslims approved of free speech, then Muslim countries would have free speech. Not one does.

You left, Brian, because you were getting your butt kicked.
9.2.2007 7:47pm
Brian K (mail):
i did not leave, i'm still here.

i previously was not responding because i explicitly said i did not want to get into a pissing contest.

these arguments have been hashed and rehashed over and over again. the reason why i called you guys bigots is that you refuse to learn anything from these arguments. i've given up trying to convince. afterall if a bigot were rational, he wouldn't be a bigot.

If a majority of Muslims approved of free speech, then Muslim countries would have free speech. Not one does.
case in point. i bet it never occurred to you that the beliefs of the ruling class (which is necessarily a small minority of the population) is different than that of the average joe? i guess not.
9.2.2007 8:05pm
Brian K (mail):
or did it never occur to you that restrictions on the freedom of speech is often used by nearly every totalitarian regime or dictatorship to maintain power? no?

the restrictions on the freedom of speech are there because it is a totalitarian regime, not because it is muslim. the fact that you think otherwise is bigoted.
9.2.2007 8:14pm
wolfefan (mail):
Hi -

Sorry if someone mentioned this earlier and I missed it. I could see banning the strip because it's an advertisement for a commercial product or vendor that competes with the paid advertisers of the newspaper. These kinds of women's swimwear sites exist for lots of religous groups - for instance, Amish and conservative Mennonite or Brethren women can buy from www.wholesomewear.com. If I advertised in the Post, I'd be unhappy about a free ad for a competitor...not just a free one, but one the Post pays to carry!
9.2.2007 10:46pm
Can't find a good name:
I'm just speculating, but my guess would be that Berke Breathed included the link to the web site that sells the Muslim women's swimwear to prove that the "Burqini" actually exists and is not just something he made up as a mockery.
9.2.2007 11:25pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I lived and worked in Muslim countries in the Middle East for many years, and I would say there is really no constituency for free speech as we use the term. Each person wants to have their own freedom of speech, but few want universal freedom of expression for the rest of the population. It's not a cultural value.

Additionally, there is great misunderstanding of our concept of freedom of speech. Most Arabs think it means that anyone has the right to say what they want in a newspaper or on TV. Then they claim we actually have no FS bacause some guy they know couldn't get his letter to the editor published in an American newspaper.

It's an eye-opener to find out how many things we consider dictatorial or totalitarian repression are actually supported by the population being repressed. It's a very, very different culture.
9.3.2007 12:57am
Anon21:
Bill Poser: No religions are "defensible...on rational grounds." In fact, that's pretty much the defining characteristic of religion.
9.3.2007 1:17am
Brian K (mail):
Elliot123,

my experiences and the experiences of my family are the complete opposite of yours.

the fact that people are willing to risk their lives and talk to outside journalists in these totalitarian countries is also evidence of my argument.
9.3.2007 1:47am
spider:
Brian K: I am curious -- in the recent "hood" thread you said that you grew up in suburban Chicago and studied in L.A. What are your experiences with Arab/Muslim countries?

[Note: I mostly agree with your positions in this thread, but I'm just curious about this factual point]
9.3.2007 2:49am
spider:
In the Sep.2nd comic linked at the top of this post, why does the male character say "Where's the veil?" when she is still wearing a veil??
9.3.2007 2:52am
Brian K (mail):
spider,

haha...it would be obvious if i listed my last name.

over half of my family is of middle eastern decent with my dad being an immigrant from the middle east. (i say over half because some family members married people of european decent..) i still have extensive family ties in that region and we maintain contact. I also have ties to both islam (part of my dad's family) and christianity (my mom and how i was raised).

haha...i guess you can call my family living proof that the liberal middle eastern person exists (although about half of them tend to vote republican).
9.3.2007 3:27am
Anon Y. Mous:

In the Sep.2nd comic linked at the top of this post, why does the male character say "Where's the veil?" when she is still wearing a veil??


I see she's wearing a headscarf, but I don't see a veil over her face.
9.3.2007 3:34am
A.C.:
When people talk about attitudes in Arab (or Muslim) countries, it seems to make a great deal of difference whether they are talking about Saudi Arabia or some other place like Morocco. Most Americans I know who have lived and worked in the Middle East have been in the Gulf and take that region as representative. But then, people from that region also present themselves as the representative Arabs (and Muslims) and try to export their cultural influences to other regions. Taking them as the norm is stereotyping in part, but it isn't stereotyping to the extent they are gaining a foothold elsewhere. The trouble is that doing so is likely to tick off precisely those Arabs who are most interested in resisting that kind of cultural influence.
9.3.2007 10:01am
David M. Nieporent (www):
and yes "hundreds of thousands or millions" is a gross exaggeration.
Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Coincidentally, a Muslim country.
9.3.2007 10:13am
spider:
Hmmm, I thought "veil" in English usually refers to any sort of hijab, but I'm glad to know Berke Breathed is so nuanced...
9.3.2007 11:21am
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "my experiences and the experiences of my family are the complete opposite of yours."

I don't deny there are some who would like to see freedom of speech as we have it, and I would accept your testimony that your family is among them. I simply note those folks were minority. The majority sees the government's role as protecting society, including religion, from harmful and corrupting influences. This includes expressions of opinion or artistic expressions that are considered harmful.

And what does "harmful" mean? When asked, the man on the street will tell you that everyone simply knows what is harmful - what a stupid question. The best I could tell, it is a general concensus at any given time which is loosely based on cultural tradition.

So, what is your personal experience living in the Middle East?
9.3.2007 1:14pm
Elliot123 (mail):
AC,

I agree it's silly to talk about attitudes in Muslim countries since they span such a large range of cultures. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Indonesia are all far different from one another, and exhibit very different attitudes. One of the common mistakes Americans make is to to think all Muslims embrace Arab culture.

However, one can detect common attitudes among Arabs that span geography. This is being reinforced by the exlposion in satellite TV which is providing many high quality Arabic language programs. The flip side is that the same satellite is also providing English language programming which exposes people to attitudes and ideas very different from those of Arabic culture. I'm not really sure how it will all resolve itself. Stay tuned.
9.3.2007 1:28pm
Brian K (mail):
Elliot123,

It is not a minority of people that think that way. Making claims like show just how little you know about the history of the region.

Take Iran and Ahmadinejad for example. do you know why he won the election? he was a nobody politician before the election and was widely regarded as an idiot. he won because a)the incumbent was corrupt and b)the general population was unhappy because the country wasn't liberalizing fast enough under khatami. why wasn't the country liberalizing fast enough? the ayatollah was blocking it and khatami was viewed as weak for not standing up to him. US involvement in that area and confrontational attitude also pushed iran's electorate to vote more conservative.

the last reason is also why ahmedijinad is likely to be reelected despite widespread dislike of his domestic agenda. (sound familiar? GWB and many republicans got reelected largely by playing the "terrorism card", ahmedijinad was elected and likely will be reelected by playing the "white devil" card).

a recent expose in the economist backed up most of this, which is what my family has been telling me for years.

so yes, i can easily say that a majority of the people want more liberal laws (including freedom of speech).

So, what is your personal experience living in the Middle East?
what's yours? if its with oil or the military i doubt you got a representative picture of the region.
9.3.2007 1:57pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, Brian, let's see: 1,400 years x 50 countries = every Muslim country is totalitarian. (Your statement, I just quantified it.)

You're not making any headway in proving that Muslims as a group are for western values.
9.3.2007 3:46pm
Brian K (mail):
Well, Brian, let's see: 1,400 years x 50 countries = every Muslim country is totalitarian. (Your statement, I just quantified it.)

WOW! what a stunningly stupid comment. You're certainly not make any headway in proving that your not a bigot with comments like this.

link

ask yourself a simple question. have all totalitarian countries been muslim? if you answer yes, pick up a book and read for once. i could continue but i've veered too far off of the sites comments policies.
9.3.2007 4:37pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Anybody who lists Iran as a democracy is beyond help, Brian.
9.3.2007 7:45pm
Brian K (mail):
Harry,

just out of curiosity, do you even know how the iranian government is run?
9.3.2007 8:20pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Yes
9.4.2007 3:27am
Brian K (mail):
forgive me if i don't believe you...you haven't shown yourself to be a reliable source of facts or information.
9.4.2007 4:49am
Happyshooter:
These brave newspaper publishers should be praised from every rooftop for having the courage to avoid forcing members of the Religion of Peace to kill Americans.
9.4.2007 10:10am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
At some level of frequency or occurrence, a given behavior is said to be characteristic of a group, even if some of the group do not exhibit that characteristic.

What is that level? 20%? 50%?

To reiterate a point I made earlier: A moderate Muslim is one who is moderately Muslim. He is not necessarily a moderate in our sense who happens to be Muslim. What is the correlation between being moderately Muslim and being a moderate who happens to be Muslim? Or, what is the correlation between being moderately Muslim and our view of "moderate"?

Example. After the Canadians busted the plot to blow up Parliament, a poll found 12% of the Canadian Muslims thought it was a good idea.
Now, let's suppose the distribution from violent whackjob on one end to slacker is normal. That means that one standard deviation includes 85% of Muslims. Presumably, the inhabitants of that 85% would impress us as more or less moderately Muslim. If not "moderate".
Well, that leaves 7.5% of Muslims more whackjobbed than the 85%. To get that 12% agreers with GuyFawking (which amounts to about 84,000 individuals), you have to use up the entire tail on the violent end, and start into one-standard-deviation territory.

From which it follows that suggesting that certain behaviors are "common" or "characteristic" might not be a stretch.
9.4.2007 11:43am
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "So, what is your personal experience living in the Middle East?
what's yours? if its with oil or the military i doubt you got a representative picture of the region."


My experience has indeed been in the oil industry in Syria, Iraq, Saudi, Gulf States, and Algeria. Why do you say that experience does not provide a representative picture of the region? The oil industry deals with all levels of society, from the rulers to the common laborer. Additionally, living in the country brings one into contact with many people and interests not connected to the oil industry. Would you say someone working in the oil industry in the US does not have a representative picture of the US?

Your observations about Iranian elections tells us nothing about the attitudes of the people towards free speech as we know it in the US. What does Persian cultural history show us?

So, what's your experience living and working in the Middle East? What light does it shed on this question? Did you notice a difference between the attitudes of your famly that chose to migrate and the common folks who either couldn't afford it or didn't want to leave?
9.4.2007 1:06pm
A.C.:
In a normal distribution, a little over 68% of the distribution is within one standard deviation of the mean. Not 85%.
9.4.2007 3:14pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K,

Iranians will elect someone widely regarded as an idiot because they don't like Bush? So, who are the real idiots?
9.4.2007 4:56pm
Brian K (mail):
Iranians will elect someone widely regarded as an idiot because they don't like Bush?

WOW! what a strikingly horrible misrepresentation of what i actually said. remind me again why your not a bigot?
9.4.2007 5:25pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "he was a nobody politician before the election and was widely regarded as an idiot."

Brian K: "US involvement in that area and confrontational attitude also pushed iran's electorate to vote more conservative."

Brian K: "the last reason is also why ahmedijinad is likely to be reelected despite widespread dislike of his domestic agenda."

I suggest the Iranian people are far more intelligent and informed than to elect an idiot bacause they don't like Bush's confrontational policies. Why do you hold a great people in such low regard?
9.4.2007 5:49pm
Brian K (mail):
Elliot,

I know you had to have read the following quote:
he won because a)the incumbent was corrupt and b)the general population was unhappy because the country wasn't liberalizing fast enough under khatami.

you quoted it so you know i said REelected.

references to an outside enemy that will destroy your way of life is a great way to maintain power. why do you think republicans are so quick to refer to terrorism and 9/11 during their campaigns? what do you think got bush reelected?
9.4.2007 5:55pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, let's see. According to Brian's link, almost all Muslim-majority countries are wholly or partly democratic.

So, we must assume, they are not simultaneously totalitarian.

Therefore, it is evident that 'democracy,' as understood by Muslim societies is decidedly short on the freedoms we like to associate with it: like free speech and assembly, freedom of conscience etc.

So, Brian, you're on record here as believing that Muslim countries are short on individual rights because the inhabitants are oppressed, and that they're almost all running affairs themselves.

Which is it?

(As for how Iran is governed: it is a one-party state with a politburo that presents the inmates with a list of candidates they can vote for in sham elections. With the exception of a predilection for religion, it compares most closely with the USSR.)
9.4.2007 6:50pm
Brian K (mail):
because the inhabitants are oppressed
where did i say this? the fact that it may be true for some countries doesn't change the fact that you are putting words in my mouth.

hey're almost all running affairs themselves
furthermore, i never said anything about which proportion is fully democratic. i provided the link to refute your blatantly bigoted claim that all muslim countries are totalitarian.

As for how Iran is governed:
If I had a nickel for everytime you're wrong, i wouldn't need to work for the rest of my life.
link
9.4.2007 7:25pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "you quoted it so you know I said REelected."


Elected? Reelected? In both cases you tell us the Iranians will elect someone widely considered an idiot because they don't like the US. That's very demeaning and disrespectful to the Persian people. A more in depth knowledge of this great people, and all the people of the Middle east, will undoubtably lead you to have greater respect for them and their ancient culture.
9.4.2007 8:17pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
OK, say something about which proportion is fully democratic.
9.4.2007 8:38pm
Brian K (mail):
In both cases you tell us the Iranians will elect someone widely considered an idiot because they don't like the US.
Again, this is not what I said.

The Iranian people had two choices at the polls a corrupt reformist, rafsanjani, or ahmadinejad. given their unhappiness with the pace of reform and their doubt that he can live up to his promises and his obvious corruption, the iranian people voted in ahmadinejid instead of rafsanjani. i'm sure the prospect of an american attack on iran played some role in the election, but to my understanding it was a very minor one. so please point out where you think i said something a) i clearly did not say and b) clearly do not believe.

Since the election Bush as greatly stepped up the rhetoric against iran and has gone to the UN several times. ahmadinejad is a conservative politician with very close ties to the military. just like GWB, he spins the idea of an outside threat in such a manner that moves the general public to vote more conservative and support his foreign policy despite his poor domestic policy.

But you should already know this if you are so well versed in middle eastern affairs. haha...i guess my doubts were correct.

if you have trouble understanding what i'm writing please don't post some strawman argument or something. go to your local high school or community college and take a reading class.
9.5.2007 12:20am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
A.C. Thanks. That gives more room for the Canadian 12% to be outside the moderately Muslims' single standard deviation. In fact, there are couple of points to spare. Still, it gets into the second SD which ought to be somewhat mellow, if more agitated than those from the first SD.

So, to get back to the original question, at what frequency of occurrence do we say a particular behavior is "characteristic" of a group, while knowing that not all participate in that behavior?
9.5.2007 12:35am
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K,

Anyone well versed in Middle Eastern affairs knows better than to cast doubt on the intelligence of the Persian nation. Your assertion that they will elect someone widely regarded as an idiot for a second time because they don't like Bush is an insult to their intelligence. It also calls into question the notion that they yearn for freedom of speech as we know it.

Does your experience living and working in the Middle East indicate the Iranians lack intelligence?
9.5.2007 11:27am
Brian K (mail):
The Iranian people will vote for the person who can best represent their interests. as i explained above, someone who says stupid things can fulfill that requirement.

But i've had enough of this. you lost your argument and rather than bowing out gracefully you decide to attack me with needless insults.

I thought we decided that you were going to take some reading comprehension classes before replying...you clearly need them.
9.5.2007 2:19pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Sorry to see you leave. Thanks for an interesting and productive discussion.
9.5.2007 4:05pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Shoot, I was waiting for him to explain how Kyrgystan got on his list of partially democratic countries.
9.5.2007 4:16pm