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Cartoon Raises a Stink; Some See Slur Against Islam in a 'B.C.' Outhouse Strip
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Defamation; Muslims; Cartoons; Islam
Author: Weingarten, Gene
Date: Nov 21, 2003
Start Page: C.01
Section: STYLE

The CAIR e-mail mentioned the moons, and also noted that [Johnny 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.

He said it was just a "silly" bathroom joke, wrapped around the cliche "Is it just me, or . . . ?" According to Hart, the joke was about the ambiguous authorship of a bad smell. The SLAM, Hart said, was simply there to show that the caveman had walked into the outhouse. The crescent moons were there to indicate it was nighttime, and because outhouses have crescent moons.

For non-academics, though, the issue is intent and intent only. If Hart did not intend to slur Islam, then he is absorbing some terribly unfair criticism. But what if he did intend to slur Islam? You need only read the Constitution to conclude that Johnny Hart had every right to express whatever views he has. But was it right to do it subversively, in what would amount to an act of intellectual sabotage?

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