Yep, there they are—the evil cartoons, the ones that started it all (okay, they were first published nearly six months ago, but let's face it, fundamentalists are a little slower on the uptake than us infidels—remember, President Chavez had been back in office for nearly three years in Venezuela when Pat Robertson finally got around to issuing his fatwa). I found them here, an attachment to a piece by MSNBC's Dan Abrams. Now while I had to admire Dan's courage in actually posting the images (albeit with a "potentially offensive" warning), I found his reference to the "usually unwavering" American mass media rather curiously modest, perhaps even naive. So I wrote him the following note:
Well Dan, you deserve vast credit for having the gumption to actually publish the supposedly offensive cartoons, especially since I don't see the rest of your colleagues in the MSM as "usually unwavering." In fact, the American MSM have recently proven themselves a most trembling lot of cowards. (The NYT sits on the domestic spying story for a year and then credits itself for bravery when they finally publish it—your MSNBC blogging partner Mr. Alterman is dead-on about them, they're a bunch of self-serving, snivelling yahoos).
Anyway, I've been writing about the Mohammed madness for a week now, and I had sort of predicted that this would blow up into something bigger than the Newsweek Koran-in-the-toilet debacle or anything involving Salman Rushdie.
What's the solution? I don't know, but I sure wish Lenny Bruce were still around. He was a comedian in the 60's, maybe before your time, who broke the ground for the stage that Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, and others have stood upon. Lenny once did a rant on the word "nigger" that I can recall: he just stood there and repeated it, maybe fifty times in different inflections. Then, for anybody who didn't get the idea of it, he explained that if we just made it as dull and meaningless as possible through mere repetition, maybe some kid wouldn't be running home crying to the ghetto from school today.
So what would Lenny do now? He'd have us drawing billboards, subway graffiti, coloring books, Pixar films, corporate whiteboards, and yes, more editorial cartoons with the prophet, until the murderous maniacs got so addled with it all...that their heads would explode—metaphorically, that is. I'm sure the Bush administration would be generous with funding for the necessary psychiatric clinics for Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Teheran.
Peace be upon you, man.
I did a little rooting around on the Internet later, and found a segment of text from Bruce's "nigger" speech:
The point? That the word's suppression gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. If President Kennedy got on television and said, 'Tonight I'd like to introduce the niggers in my cabinet,' and he yelled 'niggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggernigger' at every nigger he saw, 'boogeyboogeyboogeyboogeyboogey, niggerniggerniggernigger' till nigger didn't mean anything any more, till nigger lost its meaning -- you'd never make any four-year-old nigger cry when he came home from school. (from The Essential Lenny Bruce)
Finally, I found this footnote to CNN's coverage of the cartoon furor. Read it, and then let me know whether you, too, can smell the shit in Ted Turner's pants:
CNN is not showing the negative caricatures of the likeness of the Prophet Mohammed because the network believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself.