The offensive “Garfield” cartoon from Veteran’s Day, which according to the NY Daily News, cartoonist Jim Davis says he drew up over a year ago, and was just a case of really bad timing. The dialogue of the strip is as follows: (Garfield seen holding a newspaper) Spider: “If you squish me, I shall become famous! They will hold an annual day of remembrance in my honor, you fat slob.” Spider(continued but now in front of a group of other spiders) “Does anyone here know why we celebrate ‘National Stupid Day?'”
This got us thinking what are the top 3 worst-timed comics. Factors that we considered: how offensive was the cartoon itself? How many people did it offend? What where the consequences for the offender?
April 15, 2001: “B.C.”
This one was so offensive that Linda Raymond offered a preemptive apology. “Some people of faith will have a strong reaction to today’s “B.C.” comic strip. So will some who are faithless.” Here’s a description of the comic from the newsobmundsman.org site: The menorah is lighted as he begins, but one branch is extinguished in each frame. Finally, all that remains is the Christian symbol of an empty cross and a wavering path leading to three symbols Christians associate with Easter, a cave (suggesting Jesus’ tomb, found empty on the first Easter morning), and wine and bread, elements of the Christian rite of communion. The comic ends with Jesus’ words used in the communion ritual, “Do this in remembrance of me.” To some, seeing the menorah turned into a cross suggests Judaism being replaced by Christianity, a suggestion viewed very differently by some Christians and Jews. This strip was ran on Easter Sunday so the timing is kind of offensive.
From News Busters here’s a take on another “B.C.” comic that was offensive to some.
Muslims were enraged by another “B.C.” strip that ran during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It featured an outhouse with multiple crescents — a symbol associated with Islam — and showed a cave man saying from inside the makeshift bathroom, “Is it just me, or does it stink in here?” This one might be a case of people being self absorbed and wanting to turn the crescent moon in to a symbol of Islam when really its a common feature on many old fashioned outhouses.
The Muhammad Cartoons late 2005- early 2006
A Danish newspaper publishes 12 cartoons of Muhammad. The backlash would lead to several countries banning Danish goods.
It’s safe to say Davis will not face this kind of scrutiny for his mistake. I would expect that as was the case with B.C. offensive incidents this moment will be gone and forgotten, and “Garfield” will go back to be the funny cat we all know and love.
New York Daily Times
Organization of News Ombudsmen