'Bizarro' complaints draw two wildly different responses

Although at least one newspaper editor was quick to apologize for Monday's installment of Bizarro, cartoonist Dan Piraro took a far less conciliatory tone in response to a reader complaint.

The one-panel cartoon, titled "Divine Intervention," depicts a trio of angels confronting God with a list of how his behavior affects others, ending with, "... and then there was the weekend bender when you reached rock bottom and created man." It's not the stuff of such anodyne comics-page mainstays as Family Circus or Garfield, but it hardly seems offensive.

Yet the editor of the Paris, Tennessee, Post-Intelligencer donned sackcloth and ashes in reaction to a phone call from a displeased reader. "We won’t repeat its irreverent humor, accusing God is sinning — let’s just say we were horrified that we didn’t pay attention to it in advance, when we should have refused to publish it," states the editor's note in Wednesday's paper. "We apologize to all our readers offended by this particular comic strip. And we’ll try to do a better job of ensuring it doesn’t happen again."

Yes, "horrified." Now compare that to Piraro's reply to an offended reader who wrote, in part, "Why haven’t I seen a similar cartoon about Muhammed or the Muslims? Yes, it is bizarre, but is it your goal also to offend – to hurt? My God is an awesome God who has blessed me in so many ways – so many times. He is not 'rock bottom' – He is rock solid!"

“The cartoon was not meant to deride 'god' or offend believers, but to comment on how horribly humans have treated the earth and its billions of species," the cartoonist responded. "By the way, that cartoon DOES feature the 'god' of Islam. Their religion, just like Christianity, is a spinoff of ancient Judaism, so all three have the same supernatural being at the helm. [...] It is important to know that the fundamental reason Christians, Jews, and Muslims are perennially at war is because they all branched from the same mythology and believe that their version is the correct one and the other two are heretics. It is also important to know that this cartoon has nothing to do with any of that."

Launched in 1985, Bizarro is syndicated daily in about 350 newspapers around the world. Piraro won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 2010.

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