Friday, November 21, 2003


Via Atrios, I see that a recent installment of the comic strip BC is being interpreted by some as being an anti-Islamic message.

Well, I've read the cartoon, and I'm sorry. I'm as tired of anti-Islamic rhetoric as the next good leftie, but I just don't see it here. All I see is an outhouse joke. Not a very funny one, of course, but I get the humor here. The guy's sitting in an outhouse, and he's wondering if he's imagining the smell. I get the joke. I figured the anti-Islamic message was simply that the outhouse has a crescent moon carved into the door, but that's pretty much a stereotypical image of all old wooden outhouses, isn't it? I swear I remember seeing such outhouses in old episodes of Little House on the Prairie.

But then I read the WaPo article, and there is some seriously convoluted reasoning here: the use of the word "Slam", which the cartoonist insists is to merely convey that the guy has gone into the outhouse, is actually a coded message specifically identifying Islam. That seems a bit extravagant for a newspaper daily comic strip, and a bit out of character for a strip wherein one rarely finds subtlety. And some guy says that the "Slam" cannot refer to the closing of the outhouse door, since people don't slam outhouse doors, they close them gently. They do? Really? I take it this fellow has never been to any outdoor event where the "facilities" consisted of a bank of Porta-Potties. Believe me, they do get slammed. In fact, the repeated whack of the slamming door is a key way of finding the facilities in the first place.

This kind of thing is just like all the people decoding George Lucas's views on race through careful analysis of his depiction of an orange-skinned amphibian and the guy I once worked with who refused to smoke Marlboro's because the design of the pack is clearly a coded message endorsing the Klan. (Something about how the red field forms a K-like shape, if memory serves.) So come on, folks -- instead of combing the funny-pages for right-wing propaganda that probably isn't there, let's comb actual policies for bad stuff that is.

UPDATE: TBOGG posted on this as well, and his position is the opposite of mine. But I admire his ability to relate it back to an episode of Seinfeld. I've long believed that there is nothing in life that can't be related to Seinfeld.

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