Monday, January 29, 2007

Post censors comic strips, again - Get Fuzzy this time

MetaDC and Ben Towle picked up that some papers, including the Post, were censoring marijuana jokes in Get Fuzzy last week. Ben's got the story, and the some of the strips in two posts - here and here. Fortunately Darby Conley's syndicate wasn't as worried as the Post and all the strips can be seen on the website for a few weeks.

As is par for the course, the Post never mentioned this. You'd think the paper would have a bit more spine, and at least confess to their censorship.

Anyone like to try to recall other instances of the Post censoring, or "editing," (their preferred term) the comics? There have been several. In Sept 2005, a Dilbert strip showing assault by a porpoise was cut (Dave Astor had the story); in July 2005, they pulled a Boondocks strip and Suzanne Tobin defended their actions in a chat with Paul Gilligan of Pooch Cafe. (Hit refresh and the link will work - twofer!)

They had pulled Boondocks in 2004 and their ombudsman at the time Michael Getler noted, One year after refusing to publish a week's worth of the "Boondocks" comic strip drawn by Aaron McGruder, The Post did it again last week, only this time it didn't tell readers. The Post says that comics are edited just like any other feature of the paper and denies that this is censorship. Editors say last week's offering was racially offensive and used negative stereotypes of African Americans to lampoon TV reality shows. Last year The Post was the only paper, among 250 that buy "Boondocks," to drop it. This time seven other papers dropped it, including the Boston Globe. I disagreed last time, and this time, too. I think McGruder, who is African American, is a brilliant artist who has created young, black characters speaking with razor-sharp, satirical candor who say things that make us uncomfortable but also make us think. In January of 2004, Mike Peters of the Dallas Morning News noted that the Post dropped a BC strip, admittedly lame, The strip offered to newspapers today mocks the notion that two Asians could have flown the first airplane. The punchline: "Two Wongs don't make a Wright?" They've dropped other B.C. strips for religious sensitivity reasons too.

The aforementioned Boondocks was dropped in October 2003, the Boston Globe reported, "In an unprecedented move that angered readers and generated industry criticism, The Washington Post recently killed an entire week of "The Boondocks" comic strip with a story line suggesting the world might be a safer place if national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had a more active love life." As in the later event, the ombudsman Michael Gertler disagreed, noting on October 19, 2003 "I may need a refresher course in sensitivity training, but I also found the sequence of strips within the bounds of allowable satire. I don't know a thing about Rice's personal life, nor do the characters in the strip, and I think readers understand that. The "Boondocks" characters, and their creator, were being mischievous and irreverent, in their mind's view of the world, about a high-profile public figure, and that seems okay to me." A month earlier, a Doonesbury strip about masturbation was dropped. Boondocks also was skipped twice in January and October of 2002. There's a few more BC examples and Ted Rall's strip was dropped online in March of 2002 after his 9-11 Widows strip. Anyone else got any more?


Von Allan said...

Well, it's not quite what you had in mind, but I've been quite disappointed with the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision against Little Sister's.

Canada Customs (now the Canada Border Services Agency) seized materials they found obscene that the retailer had ordered in from the United States back in '86. The problem is that in Canada we don't have anything as clear cut as your First Amendment. On top of it, the definition of what is obscene is really a judgement call with no clear cut policy or wording.

MacLean's has a good overview of the recent case here:

richardcthompson said...

If enough people complained about the Post not running a strip they might be less likely to drop them in the future. Or not, I don't know. But complaints are generally what they're trying to avoid.

Mike Rhode said...

Well, Dave Astor followed up and showed how timid the Post was on this one:

Only a Few 'Fuzzy' Clients Seek Alternates to Strips Joking About Pot
By Dave Astor
E and P Online January 29, 2007

NEW YORK In another example of how a lot of newspapers now accept
comic content that's a little more adventurous, only about 10-12 of
the 650 "Get Fuzzy" clients asked for alternates to last week's
sequence that referenced pot smoking.

A United Media spokesperson, when asked today about the client
reaction, said she didn't know how many of the 10-12 newspapers
actually used the replacement strips.

Mike Rhode said...

Canadian customs link's not working -
try this one -

Mike Rhode said...

Hmmm, mine got cut too. I'm going to post it in two halves.