Friday, February 17, 2006


So you're probably wondering what The League thinks about two of the big stories of the day. What? No?

No, I'm not touching the further adventures of the Abu Ghraib scandal with a ten foot pole. That's prime Steanso territory, and I'd hate to steal his thunder.

Cartoon Riot

Harms has the best posts on this I've read so far here

The League didn't say much early on because The League was not really wanting to get into a flame war with some angry person he does not know from a far off land. Like Beaumont.

Honestly, the cartoonists probably made a miscalculation when they forgot that depictions of the prophet Mohammed are forbidden in Islam. Or maybe they did know and they felt like poking the tiger with a stick probably figuring nobody pays any attention to Denmark, anyway (it's always the quiet ones). Who knows? But that's about as far as I'll go in defending what's now, what?, two weeks' worth of damage to life, limb and property across the whole of the Middle East.

Whenever I get blue about something that may happen in the U.S. of A., all it takes is a few seconds of international TV to remind me that we've got it pretty good with our whole semi-protected freedom of press dealy-o.

Freedom of press and speech doesn't mean (as Jim D. once wisely pointed out to me) that you are free from repercussions for saying what you like or printing anything which comes to mind. Part of this freedom of the press bit that is interesting is that we often ALSO have people calling for heads in our country. But I like to think the cumulative effect in Western Culture is that we acknowledge that people can say and print what they like, and we hope that things sort of even out with printed and spoken counter-points. IE: We don't feel the need to arm grannies with AK-47's and parade through the streets whenever someone prints something we don't like (I always love grannies with machine guns).

I assume it's not the cartoons themselves which are sparking the rioting. I assume this is really about the frustration with the West that has been building since World War II. And while I may not agree with US policy at every turn in regards to the Middle East, this is one place where the West, in general, should stand firm. As upset as the rioters may feel towards the strips, if we hold freedom of the expression as sacred as we claim we do, I'd like to see someone, somewhere explain in print why the West tends to shrug these things off.

The quandry for Western editors is clearly whether or not they should paint a big, red target on their employees by reprinting the cartoons. One of the great ironies of the story is that in two weeks, I still haven't seen the strips, and I'm a fairly avid consumer of news. This lack of action leads me to believe that editors are being extremely careful, perhaps overcautious, in their decision making.

All of this, of course, should be a cautionary tale to Westerners who take their freedoms for granted and who passively poo-poo censorship but feel the fight is already won. Obviously American media feels the need to censor the images, or we would have all been overwhelmed with Danish cartoons.

Is it waving the strips in the face of the Muslim world to rebroadcast, reprint or redistribute strips which are 6 months old? That seems to be a key complaint of the rioters. But is the rest of the world beholden to their belief anymore than I should be hemmed in by a Catholic's decison not to eat meat on Friday, Jamie's devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Steanso's belief in the divination of the Doug Henning?

I'm fascinated by, and I'm sure Scott McCloud would have a book's worth to say on the topic of, the power of the iconography here. It's worth considering how words and pictures have melded to have meaning beyond simple ink lines. Clearly there's a hell of a lot more going on here externally, but it would be an interesting case studyto see the cartoons themselves to understand the power of an icon which is, by law, not supposed to be portrayed in any way.

For more on these sorts of ideas, I recommend McCloud's "Understanding Comics".

Heidi has identified some interesting fallout. Apparently, in the face of the state-sponsored Iranian "Holocaust Funnies" contest, an Israeli comix company has decided to pitch their own Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest.

Leaguers, you can't make this stuff up.

With Friends Like Cheney

Nor can you make THIS stuff up.

I've never been shot in the face with birdshot, but I reckon it hurts like a bastard. While I may see Dick Cheney as a chairless Old Man Potter, you gotta feel a little bad for both parties when someone unintentionally shoots their pal.

As an avid eater of meat, I'm not against hunting because I think it's a wretched pursuit. The League is against hunting because it's boring.

The League values it's time and considers sitting in a box in the freezing cold at 5:00 am in December to be sort of stupid. Especially since the only way you can guarantee a deer is to bait the deer all season long and then shoot it on the one day you get your fat ass out of bed and remember to load your gun with the telescopic scope. To us, this is the equivalent of showing up at Fatburger one day and the clerk shooting a hole in your neck. I don't think I consider that a "sport". (Don't worry, I don't think lots of things are sports).

Quail hunting seems to consist of scaring birds into flight and then blasting a wide enough patch of sky that you manage to actually hit something. I assume you use this method because you're too lousy to do it with a .22 or something that requires skill. Honestly, to me, I fail to see the difference between using a shotgun or tossing a net over the birds and then hitting them with a shovel.

I was sick with the flu when the story broke about the Veep's mishap, and thus I more or less slept through the first 24 hour news cycle. The press seems to feel there's some hint of a cover-up going on, but it seems more like a mish-mash of bad information from a press corp that can't get a story straight unless they're working in 5 second sound bites.

Cheney took it on the chin and took full responsibility for what happened. Sort of. He also received a $7 citation, which seems like not much punishment.

I'm guessing no charges will be pressed, and I don't pretend to understand the law enough to know what the usual route for this sort of accident would be. I know that: had the guy died, they have a term called "manslaughter" that has some harsh consequences in Tejas. Again, honestly, I don't know the law, and I'm not looking to see the Veep go up the river on this one.

And, of course, things are always less funny when you shoot someone in the head and chest.

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