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when comic strips attack

Jim Treacher told me about this and Scott Brodeur sent me a link to his detailed post on the subject.

The subject is the comic strip B.C. and the not-so-hidden agenda of its creator, Johnny Hart.

I never really liked B.C. Besides it obvious religious tone (think Jack Chick with less hellfire - it's just as subversive), it's just not funny. It holds a place alongside those other strips that leave me baffled as to their continued existence - Hagar, Beetle Bailey, Gasoline Alley and Family Circus.

So what did Johnny Hart do now? Let's go to WaPo for the details:

Did Johnny Hart -- the beloved creator of "B.C." and one of the most widely read cartoonists on Earth -- sneak a vulgar defamation of Islam into the comics pages last week?

The cartoon, which appeared Nov. 10 in more than 1,200 newspapers worldwide -- including The Washington Post -- shows a caveman entering an outhouse at night, and then saying, from inside, "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?"

The first public questioning of this cartoon arose in a washingtonpost.com chat Tuesday, when a reader noted that the cartoon seemed to make no sense, except metaphorically. The reader noted that the cartoon contained six crescent moons -- three in the sky, and three on the outhouse door -- and wondered if this might have been a veiled slur on the world's 1 billion practicing Muslims.

The CAIR e-mail mentioned the moons, and also noted that Hart had drawn a prominent sound effect -- "SLAM" -- between two frames to accompany the closing of the outhouse door. The SLAM was stacked vertically, in the shape of an I, and could be seen to signify "Islam." The cartoon appeared on the 15th day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

Here's the strip.

I know what you're thinking right now. You're thinking, dude, you are reading way too much into that strip.

No, I'm not. And neither is CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), which protested the comic. See, this isn't the first time Johnny Hart has gone out of his way to slam another religion. Witness this strip:

Go ahead, click it for the big, readable size. I'll wait while you read.

Of course, you can take that many ways. I choose to take it as Hart being mildly anti-Semitic, if only because I know he has a history of telling interviewers that Jews are condemned to rot in hell forever (looking for a link on that). The ADL didn't think much of it, either.

Make of it what you will. My mind was made up about Johnny Hart ages ago. He is neither funny nor a good artist. A comic strip writer should be at least one of those things. Your mileage may vary, of course. I mean, some people find Carrot Top funny, too.

Oh, by the way - what's an Evangelical Christian doing writing a comic strip about cavemen?

Update:
Notice I didn't condemn the man for this particular strip. I think I made it obvious that my main problem with him is he's just not funny. I'm just reporting the story here. And please, let's not get into that "all Muslims suck" thing. If things get nasty, I'll have to start deleting posts.

I was looking for a reaction, and I got one.

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» B.C. Is A Political Comic from DiVERSiONZ
B.C. goes anti-Islam? What's the big deal? It's not like he ran a couple of planes into some skyscrapers and [Read More]

» I can't believe even the ADL got it wrong from Brain Fertilizer
How many days in Chanukah? And so, how many candles on the Menorah? Eight, right? So how can this be anti-semitic in any way, shape, or form? Seven candles. Not eight. Does the Jewish religion have a copyright on candlestands...?... [Read More]

Comments

Actually, I think the outhouse strip is pretty fucking funny. Then again, I'm a sucker for toilet jokes. I also like masturbation and sex jokes. And, if you can combine all three, I'll be laughing into the weekend.

Quite frankly, the various Muslim lobbies can kiss my bleeding Irish-Catholic ass. There's never been so obnoxious a group of baselessly offense-seeking whiners in the history of the world. After what Muslims have done these past few years, that they have the nerve to bitch about a cartoon as if it were some sort of substantial victimization is so tragic it's laughable.

Johnny Hart is a Christian. There are a lot of us. And in case the rest of the world hasn't noticed, Christians have been taking it on the chin from the Muslims, quite as much as the Jews of Israel have. Estimates of Christian deaths these past two years at the hands of Muslims in Sudan alone are near to two million. How many Muslims have Christians killed for their beliefs lately?

Islam has proved itself to be a creed with two kinds of adherents: vicious killers and ball-less, voiceless "moderates" who subscribe to the very same faith, in all particulars. Its mouthpieces should hope and pray that nothing worse than Johnny Hart's sort of cartoon derision is coming their way.

As for the ADL's umbrage about the menorah cartoon, please bear in mind that Christ was a Jew, and that He publicly said, "I come not to overthrow the Law, but to fulfill it." So the ADL can kiss my ass, too.

I love the outhouse strip.If it is a slam against Islam so much the better I think.
I don`t see what point was trying to be made in the Mennorah strip other than that Jesus is a Jew too.That`s the only connection I could make.

As for the Muslims, I'm with Mr Porretto on this one. He said it better than I ever could. Sounds like they are reading way too far into a cartoon. Fuck them!

As for the other cartoon, it wasn't legible for me, I have no comment.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, a simpler explanation for why the gag doesn't make any sense on a first read is as follows: It was written by Johnny Hart. Yeah, he's a religious nut and I agree that those other strips were creepy, but I'm not buying it on this one. He made a witless semi-joke, which is hardly rare, and somebody came up with a conspiracy theory about it. Shrug.

Francis,

Several thousand in Iraq alone, going by civilian deaths caused by an evangelical White House.

Having grown up on the border of Appalachia, and having seen a few real outhouses in my childhood, I can tell you that the crescent moon is a classic symbol often found on outhouses. I have no idea why this is so, but I guarantee that if you researched drawings, paintings or photos of old outhouses many, many of them would have a crescent moon on the door. Certainly most Hollywood depictions of outhouses feature that design.

I find the menorah strip risible, and Johnny Hart may indeed be a bigoted, evangelical zealot. But you couldn't prove it by this outhouse cartoon.

For their beliefs, Finn? Or to liberate the longsuffering Iraqi people from one of the worst and bloodiest-handed despots on the face of the Earth?

Go learn to argue before you cross swords with me. I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

Joseph, must you do this on every single thread?

What angelhair said. Crescent moons are an outhouse tradition. As for the one in the sky, well, a round moon isn't as iconic (it needs "dirt" on it to be clearly the moon, rather than a sun on a strangely-rendered mono version of a blue sky...), and the repetition of the forms is pleasing.

As for the joke, yeah, it's not real funny, but it's pretty obvious.

SLAM? Well, he's shutting the door. I'm sure if Mr. Hart actually wanted to comment on Islam, he would do so in a more... direct manner.

FWIW:

I didn't understand the BC outhouse-strip when I first read it, and still think it's a stretch to claim it's about Islam.

I didn't think much of the Menorah-strip, but didn't necessarily find it offensive. It DOES suggest, on the one hand, that he has no problem w/ religious motifs, but at the same time, the man's not subtle. IF the outhouse-strip really is about Islam, it'd be a first, in that it'd be his first subtle one.

(The WaPo yanked his Sunday strips, iirc, b/c of some overtly pro-Israeli strips, playing on the colors of the Israeli flag.)

Huh wah? Damn near everytime I've seen any cartoon or comic involving an outhouse, there's a crescent moon on it. It's a pretty standard image. CAIR can go suck wind with this (as they can with most of their complaints.)

I have always liked BC. Now I like it better.

I'm alarmed that there seem to be so many people who actually find any of Johnny Hart's stuff to be funny. Aside from whatever religion-bashing he engages in, the guy is as talentless a hack as you're ever likely to find.

bear in mind that Christ was a Jew

It is my understanding that falsely claiming to be the Messiah is one of the few ways to get "kicked out" of Judaism. This would mean that Christians should consider Jesus a Jew, and Jews should consider him a Christian. :)

I mean, some people find Carrot Top funny, too.

Now, those are the people I worry about....

The point of the menorah comic was that the whole of Jewish history and the Torah, the Prophets and of course the Law all point to the Messiah. That being the case the menorah distills into the cross. I do not think it was a slam on Jews or upon Judaism. That is my opinion on that. As for the outhouse comic. I think it has it's place.

At least Jack Chick has the stones to draw overt comics. Nobody has to read into his art; they scream the message loud and clear. :-D

I can't figure the ADL out though. They get up in arms about a cartoon and a movie (The Passion), but they're totally oblivious to the anti-semitic rhetoric that gets tossed out by far too many Muslims on a daily basis. I mean, I don't see Christians running around calling for a "jihad" against the Jews, do you?

To be fair, Hart saying Jews are condemned to rot in hell is probably taken out of context, since it's more likely he said they are condemned to hell if they don't believe in Christ, which would be true of any ethnic group, not just the Jews.

If non-funny comics are anti-Muslim, Ted Rall must have earned a fatwa by now.

yeah, CAIR must be smoking something really strong to get the anti-muslim message out of that johnny hart cartoon. I've seen a lot of his more religious strips, and most of them are pretty blatant. It goes against type for him to be that subversive.

But it gets the CAIR name out there, and that's what really matters, isn't it?

Dan, I think you misunderstand. I don't believe there is a Jewish version of excommunication, whether or not you claim to be the Messiah. I can shout it from the rooftops, and my synagogue still has to let me come in, so long as I'm a member in good standing.

Having read BC for quite some time I can say that the anti-islamic-ness of the outhouse cartoon is a pile of crap. Since I was a child the number one way to denote the difference between an outhouse and a small shack was to put a fricking crecent moon on the door.
The comment made by the character about the smell? DUH! Has no-one ever made a sarchastic comment like this? Or, as a method of humor pointed out the blatantly obvious?
Additionally, what are the cartoons created before and after this particular strip? Is this one a cartoon that has been blown way out of proportion after being ripped out of the context of a mini-story spread across several days of comics? (Something that JH does).

As for the "anti-jew" strip. I strongly doubt that he sat back one day and thought "how can I slam the jews today...?". As for "jews will burn in hell", I'm not seeing that portrayed in the cartoon. I'm trying real hard to.. but I'm not finding it.

Meryl, find out how a guy named Spinoza was treated by the Jewish community in Amsterdam a few hundred years ago.

He didn't claim that Christ was the long-awaited Messiah, but still.............

This is what they had to say about him:

"Cursed be he by day, and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down, and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in; the Lord will not pardon him; the wrath and fury of the Lord will be kindled against this man, and bring down upon him all the curses which are written in the Book of the Law; and the Lord will destroy his name from under the heavens; and, to his undoing, the Lord will cut him off from all the tribes of Israel, with all the curses of the firmament which are written in the Book of the Law; but ye that cleave unto the Lord God live all of you this day! We ordain that no one may communicate with him verbally or in writing, nor show him any favor, nor stay under the same roof with him, nor be within four cubits of him, nor read anything composed or written by him."

Um? People? Who says that's a menorah?
As it says in the very first frame, the Bible is a book with lots of 7's. The Lampstand with Seven Candles is a very powerful symbol in the Bible in Revelations. Go check it out.
I really don't think the strip had anything to do with Jews at all.

I would think that the Outhouse Strip was simply that, but there really is no reason for him to "SLAM" the door. Perhaps Mr. Hart is actually more subtle than people give him credit for?

As for being funny...to tell the truth, "humor" is a perishible skill. One person's brand of humor just gets old eventually. But tradition keeps all sorts of unfunny strips in the "funnies", alas.

The Atrios thread on this is hilarious. Earnest people trying to convince skeptics that this is certainly an attack on Islam. (Sample argument: the top of the "A" in "SLAM" is rounded, which is clearly a reference to Arabic script.)

Yeah, would it be subvisive to suggest that Charles Shultz should have retired BEFORE he died?

I mean, much as I miss "Pogo" and "Gasoline Alley", I believe that once you say what you have to say, it's time to say something else.

Aside from that, while I often enjoy Hart's work, when he gets preachy, he gets creepy. I mean, a river of blood running into an open tomb from the foot of the cross? Ewww...

Same thing regarding the Christian versions of Archie comix. Creepy. Vaguely disturbing. Not fun - but marketed as Christian-Acceptable Fun Replacement Lite.

It's like Heavy Metal by Pat Boone...

BC used to be funny. I used to be twelve. The timelines are similar.

He wasn't always preachy. It happened after he became Born Again a decade or two ago. Prior to that, his strips were purely secular.

Why do people like Johnny Hart & Aaron Macgruder still have a spot in the papers? I thought comic strips were supposed to be funny?

Screw it, throw out everything except Fox Trot, Dilbert, & the occasional Pearls Over Swine (anyone seen that one?) an' you got it about right.

How foolish of the Godless Muslims to try and extort money (money that says
on the face of every bill "In God We Trust") because of a cartoon of an outhouse.
Half moons have been on outhouses since before the 1400's when they were
'privies' in western Europe.
Why are we, in North America, catering to Muslims, and removing Christ from this
holiday season? The Christmas Tree has become a Holiday Tree.
Merry Christmas has become, Seasons Greetings.

Can a devout Muslim be a Canadian or American patriot and a loyal citizen?
Should their 'half moon protest' be given any consideration?

1. Theologically, No. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon God of Arabia.

2. Scripturally, No. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran.

3. Geographically, No. Because his allegiance is to Mecca to which he turns in
prayer five times a day.

4. Socially, No. Because his allegiance to Islam demands that he make
no friends of Christians and Jews (Q. 5:51)

5. Politically, No. Because he must submit to the mullah, who teaches
annihilation of Israel and destruction of America, the great Satan.

6. Domestically, No. Because he is instructed to marry four women and
beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Q. 4:34).

7. Religiously, No. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah
except Islam--intolerance (Q. 2:256).

8. Intellectually, No. Because he cannot accept the American
Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights, since they are established
on Biblical principles, and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.

9. Philosophically, No. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not
allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot
co-exist. Every Muslim government is dictatorial or autocratic except
Turkey.

10. Spiritually, No. Because when we declare "one nation under God," the
Christian's God is a triune God, while the Muslim's is one entity called
"Allah," who is never a heavenly Father, nor is he ever called "Love" in
the 99 excellent names.

11. They have no Allegiance, and therefore, no rights in North America.
They will not "pledge allegiance . . to one nation under God with
liberty and justice for all" in the U.S.
In Canada, they will not declare allegiance

"To my flag and to the country it represents,
I pledge respect and loyalty. Wave with pride
from sea to sea, and with your folds, keep
us ever united. Be for all a symbol of love,
freedom and justice. God keep our flag,
God protect our Canada"

MUSLIMS DESERVE NO CONSIDERATION
UNTIL THEIR 'RELIGION' BECOMES ALL
ENCOMPASSING, AND ALL BELIEFS ARE
ACCEPTED AND EMBRACED.

CREDITS: By Anis Shorrosh, a former Muslim. From the September
2002 LEVITT LETTER, ZOLA LEVITT., BOX 12268, DALLAS, TX

I don't give a rat's hiney if this IS an attack on Islam. If it is, if falls squarely in the realm of free speech.

Now it's up to individuals to decide whether or not they agree or disagree. No one has a "right" to gag this sort of thing or profit by protesting.

Look at it folks. They're not even close to exhorting violence against muslims, and CAIR is all worked up. fuggem.

If this is a slur against Islam, it is the wittiest thing Johnny Hart has produced in years. But why would he lie about it? As for the rest of you anti-Muslim bigots, grow up. The West has earned the enmity of Arabs through its centuries of imperialism. Christianity tried to exterminate Judaism in Europe, and then stole Palestine from the Arabs as a consolation prize for European Jews. As long as America supports the occupiers of Palestine, Arab fighters will oppose us. Conservatives hope to replace the Soviet Union with a new "foreign menace"; thus they actively provoke Arab rage.

Linc meet Cluebat. Cluebat meet link.

The Crusades were a RESPONSE to Muslim forays into Europe.

There is a charitable explanation of Hart's "outhouse strip" that is consistent with a moderate view on Islam. The Moon is represented twice in each panel of the strip. One time on the outhouse and the other in the sky. If one believed that Islamic extremism is as much a threat to Islam as it is to the West, then one might represent the foul aberration of Osama bin Laden - who typifies the conduct of Richard the Lionhearted rather than Saladin in violating the injunction of the Koran against waging war against noncombatants - by the motif of a stinking outhouse. True Islam would be outside the outhouse as represented by the moon in the sky. Was this Hart's intent? Who knows, but it's no wackier an interpretation than the rest of the moonbat theories that have been argued.

Hmmmm... I think if Johnny Hart wanted to be anti-Semitic, he could have at least gotten the Mennorah right. (ahmmm...8 candlesticks - not 7!?!?)

I think you all are reading way too much into it. I haven't thought a lot about either cartoon, or the rationale behind them. I just don't think Johnny Hart is funny. But if he was attempting to slam a religion, I think he would not have made a mistake something as obvious as the mennorah.

My two cents.

Make that "9" candlesticks. Sorry.

It seems strange to me, a native Czech living in Central Europe, what this discussion is about. By Jove (as my granny used to say), it's only a comic stip, a joke. You should pay more attention to anti-Semitic attitudes in Europe which remind me of the 1930s.
Have a look at this:
URL:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/11/25/do2502.xml
Have a nice day!

I'm trying to get my fellow Muslims to join me in singing our new song of freedom, our new song of jihad. It will rally us to victory. You can sing along too if you'd like. It's a catchy tune. It's to the music of the "oscar meyer weiner theme".

Everybody sing!!

"My Moon god has a first name. It's a-l-l-a-h.

My moon god has no 2nd name, it's [maniacs hoisting rifles, shouting] A-L-L-A-H!

I kill kafir every day, and if you ask to whom I praaaayyyy.....

good muslims pray most every day to A-L-L-A-H-oy-vey."

Not too bad, ey?

Sammy

If reading into the cartoon is the key, Maybe its not meant to be funny
Perhaps he's making a point of our boys going into a country to help clean up a problem, but the help they give is returned with violence---
which is our lose---- and that STINKS

An ideal person is not a tool.