Remember when Jean M. Auel’s book “The Clan of the Cave Bear” hit bookstores around the world?
It was a novel set in prehistoric times but with a story line that could be easily transposed to the modern day, dealing as it did with family ties, belief systems, individual rights and a drive toward progressiveness in an emerging new world that regressive, stock-conservative reactionary forces did all they could to prevent.
Interestingly, the title says it all – and sadly, the very words of that title, despite harking back to prehistoric times, are equally applicable today.
In an age of increasingly strident Islamism, the words “clan”, “cave” and “bear” have never been more in vogue than they are today.
The most recent incident reminiscent of the primitive attitudes evoked in “The Clan of the Cave Bear” is the one about the South Park cartoon that depicted a figure.
Scarcely surprising. After all, that’s what cartoons do, they depict figures. It may come as a surprise to some, but cartoons are just that – images and as such not real people. One recent South Park episode depicted an invisible figure inside an imaginary bear costume. Islamists the world over decided that the invisible figment of imagination inside the sketchily drawn bear costume must be that of Mohammed and accordingly issued death threats to all concerned.
It was an Islamist drive to determine what people are allowed to imagine in the recesses of their minds when confronted by sketches of imaginary figures potentially hiding other imaginary figures.
Only it turned out that the imaginary figure concealed inside the imaginary bear costume was not that of Mohammed – after all, there are no images of him so nobody knows what he looks like – but instead a depiction of Santa Claus. That’s Father Christmas – another imaginary figure whose physical appearance is a total mystery.
That wasn’t enough for the Islamists. Echoing the sort of caveman mentality of prehistoric times, they insisted their fatwa on the makers of the cartoon still stands.
And TV channels the world over such as Comedy Central are tripping over their feet to accommodate the extremists by censoring the relevant episode from their programming schedules, lest the imaginary image of an invisible image inside a bear image offend people of a religion who do not believe in Father Christmas.
And as Sweden’s English-language daily The Local and website EuropeNews report (here and here), this kowtowing to the basest of standards has reached Swedish shores too – the relevant episodes of South Park will not be screened in Sweden.
We are being forcibly returned to the era of the caveman where imaginary figures in bear costumes are banned from the deepest recesses of the individual’s mind by despots whose clan mentality is surely more at home in the caves of Tora Bora than in modern, forward-looking, development-embracing society.
And in an interesting development, it turns out that that other cartoon show, the Simpsons has now entered the fray.
In support of South Park.
The film “The War of the Worlds” was interesting – and scary. Its sequel, “The War of the Cartoons” would be hysterically funny – were it not so frighteningly serious. Both deal with aliens, both deal with imaginary figures – but only one is being taken seriously.
If the civilized world, starting with Europe, doesn’t take a firm hold of its senses – and self-respect – the following cartoon by eminent Israeli caricaturist Yaakov Kirschen who pens the Dry Bones cartoons may well be the one that says it all: