Monday, December 30, 2002

The Unfunny Papers

Political cartoonist Doug Marlette has made an offending statement of Trent Lott proportions, and is digging himself in deeper. He recently published a cartoon entitled "What Would Mohammed Drive?" which depicts and Arab man driving a Ryder truck with a nuclear warhead on board.

Rather than acknowledge the offensive nature of his cartoon, Marlette brags about his ability to "piss people off." He also claims his cartoon -- an alleged take-off on the "What Would Jesus Drive?" ad campaign -- is "an attack on the distortion of their [Muslims'] religion by murderous fanatics and zealots." Unfortunately for Marlette, that's just not true. There's nothing in the cartoon which even hints at the premise that the man depicted is a fanatic "distorting" the Muslim faith. The only suggestion is that Mohammed, a Muslim prophet, would drive a truck bomb, just as the ad campaign suggested Jesus Christ would drive an eco-friendly vehicle.

Marlette also excuses his cartoon by saying that he has "outraged fundamentalist Christians by skewering Jerry Falwell, Roman Catholics by needling the Pope, and Jews by criticizing Israel." But those aren't equivalents. The Christian equivalent would be a depiction of Jesus -- or even the Pope or Falwell -- molesting a child or drowning children in the bathtub. Or, to use Marlette's image, a pastor or rabbi at the wheel of a Ryder truck loaded with fertilizer and headed toward Oklahoma City. I doubt we'll see those cartoons from Marlette.

Marlette finally falls back on the argument that his critics are humorless and therefore he is the victim of intolerance. He should just admit that his cartoon isn't funny and doesn't convey the message he claims it does.

No comments: