Kathleen Parker

The Washington Post even found an expert in symbols to suggest as much. Marshall Blonsky, professor of semiotics (for you cowboys, that's the philosophical theory of signs and symbols) at the New School in New York, found the SLAM perplexing and intriguing:

"Why is the door slamming?" he mused. "You don't slam an outhouse door. . You gently close an outhouse door."

Hmmmm, I'm not familiar with Blonsky's comic body of work, but other cartoonists tell me that, owing to space constraints, they often insert vertical words between frames, including "SLAM," "BLAM," WHAM" and, of course, "Thank you ma'am."

Oh, and by the way, since we're going literal here, I should probably point out that cavemen didn't use outhouses. Forget slamming the door with, as the Washington Post put it, a melodramatic flourish. On the other hand, is there really another way?

Hart, meanwhile, has denied any hidden anti-Islamic message, saying: "My goodness. That's incredible. That's unbelievable."

And then he was forced to explain why it isn't the work of a fevered brow to suggest that a caveman, whose inattention to hygiene is understood, might wonder whether that troubling aroma was "de moi" or "de la toilette."

More to the point, what if Hart were poking fun at Islam? We routinely poke fun at Catholicism and fundamentalist Christianity, the group to which Hart happens to belong. Why the kid-glove treatment only for Islam?

Hart, whose only real offense was to be not quite funny enough for some who, to their credit, have transcended scatological humor, has a right to express even an unpopular view. Or to be unfunny. But out of the 10,000 or more strips Hart has created over a 45-year career, surely a few are allowed to fall short of knee-slapping hilarity.

In answer to the question he posed in "B.C.," it's not the outhouse that stinks. It's our virtuous "sensitivity" and the demand for tolerance by the manifestly intolerant that reeks.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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