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August 27, 2007

Opus the Infidel Penguin Follow Up

On Friday Berke Breathed announced that several newspapers, including the Washington Post, would not be running the next two installments of Opus. You can see the strip that was supposed to run yesterday here (Salon.com link but you don’t have to jump through hoops to see it).

Some papers have cited the ‘sexual’ humor at the end of the strip as the reason for not running it but many speculated the real reason was that Breathed took on that which must not be mocked, joked about or questioned in any way…Islam. Apparently that speculation was well founded.

Sources told FOXNews.com that the strips were shown to Muslim staffers at The Washington Post to gauge their reaction, and they responded "emotionally" to the depiction of a woman dressed in traditional Muslim garb and espousing conservative Islamic views.

There was also considerable alarm over the strip at the highest echelons of The Washington Post Co., according to the sources.

According to Amy Lago, editor of the comics groups at The Washington Post Writers Group which syndicates "Opus”, "I don't necessarily think it's poking fun [at Islam]," Lago said. "But the question with Muslims is, are they taking it seriously?"

Now you might think, well maybe the papers have a problem running any comic that might offend a religious group. Nah, not so much….


The Aug. 19 "Opus" ended with a joke about the late Jerry Falwell. In that strip, Lola, fresh from a quest to become an Amish nudist, is doing yoga and talking to the penguin character Opus about who goes to heaven.

"Liberals? Evolutionists? Feminists? ACLU lawyers?" Opus asks incredulously. "Yep," replies Lola.

"Kennedy Democrats? French people? Manly women who don't shave ... they're all up there?" Opus wonders. "Yep," Lola repeats.

"With Jerry Falwell?" asks Opus. "Yep," Lola says again.

Opus looks up in an aha! sort of moment. "Goodness, must HE be annoyed!" the penguin exclaims.

"Eternally," Lola replies.

The Washington Post has absolutely no fear whatsoever when it comes to publishing highly classified national security programs but they cower at the thought Muslims might be offended by two cartoon strips.

If Muslim sensibilities are going to be driving editorial decisions at the Washington Post Company and newspapers around the country, I really think they owe it to their readers (dwindling in numbers though they may be) to officially and publicly announce this policy.

Either way, I really don’t want to hear any more about the fearlessness of the American media and their devotion to truth and the free exchange of ideas. It's clear who they are in the tank for.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:54 PM

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