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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoon Violence

Did you miss us? Sorry about the lack of posts over the last 24 hours. I was asleep. (You have no idea how close that is to reality.)

Anyway, the big news this week is cartoons and the amazing reaction they've provoked in some more, well, reactionary quarters of the Islamic community. Frankly, I'm perplexed. I can't believe that somewhere in Indonesia or even dour Syria that they're burning cute little Droopy, Bugs Bunny, or Donald Duck in effigy.

All right, Donald is quite annoying at times, and I concede the possibility that his quackish squawking might be misinterpreted by some as a steady stream of Arabic expletives. That, and he doesn't wear pants. That would be offensive to all of us were Donald not completely neutered.

What is it that radical Islamists find appalling about cartoons?

Is it that Tom and Jerry occasionally have a slice of ham in their diet? You don't see Hasidics setting fire to reels of Puss N' Toots or Touché Pussy Cat round the local temple, do you? Even with the offensive stereotype of "Mammy-Two-Shoes" in many of their pictures, the NAACP wouldn't dream of boycotting the otherwise loveable cat and mouse.

Is it that Mickey and Minnie live in open affection and, one presumes, lust (they are animals, you know) without being married? The Southern Baptist Convention hasn't made a peep. They simply recognize that mice will not abide by decent standards of marital convention and get on with the vital business of preaching the Gospel and avoiding dance halls... No giant rat traps left in the streets of Disneyland, or D-Con mouse packets hidden under seats on the Monorail. The Church of England hasn't issued a single denunciation either.

Is it the suspiciously Brokeback Mountainesqueness of the relationship between Dr. Quest (Johnny's father) and Race Bannon? The obvious off-screen drug use of Shaggy? (You do know there was a reason Scooby's catch phrase was "Scooby Doobie Doo", don't you?) The rugged pompousness of Desperate Dan? The flashy and revealing costumes of Josie and the Pussycats (not to mention the obviously euphemistic quality of the band's name)? The irreverance and mean-spiritedness of Dennis the Menace and Gnasher? The pure and obvious evil of Dick Dastardly and Muttley?

Yet, no other group, save the International Society for Anti-Cartoon Hitler Youth (and for sport mostly, it seems), engages in death threats against the creators of these works, torches their studios, pours hot sauce surreptitiously on their hamburgers when they aren't looking, or drops anvils on their heads, leaving them only the tiniest of umbrellas as a defence.

This is madness, and I'm not referring to the band. Shame on you. You're behaving like that psycho Strawberry Shortcake.

UPDATE: Ah! Apparently the violence is the result of specific cartoons depicting Mohammed, which by some interpretations of Islam is verboten. OK - but none of the cartoonists were Islamic. Why should anyone expect them to adhere to a religion they don't practice or believe in? Does this mean I, a Christian, have to wear a beard, travel to Mecca, and avoid black puddings? (I do this last bit, but for other reasons, having to do with taste.) If that's how the game is played then perhaps we Christians should protest in outrage if an Imam fails to cross himself whilst passing a crucifix. Maybe we should all get really offended the next time an Islamic newspaper draws an unflattering picture of the Pope, or of a Jewish leader.

Oh, that would be most days, in the case of the latter. I'm leaving out all the scurrilous details, since many Arabic cartoons of Jewish leaders involve pigs, Hitler, the sacrifice of children, etc. I'm also not including the Bible burnings that occur in some countries. Mind you that I believe that most Islamic people are sensible enough that they don't contenance any of this stuff. Unfortunately, someone's let some of the nutters in charge in a few places and people are afraid to lift their heads for fear some blighter will swing at them with a scimitar. Sometimes, it's difficult to tell the cartoons from the real world.

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