I expect cartoonists everywhere to be showing solidarity with the cartoonists murdered in Wednesday’s massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, but I’ll limit myself here to what Ted Rall had to say. One of the most politically ornery of American cartoonists, Rall reminded us on his blog that the killers were provoked. There’s not a whisper of justification in noting this; we must insist, and their coreligionists must insist in voices louder than our own, that murder completely dishonors their faith. But the cartoons on Islam published by Charlie Hebdo were drawn to offend and did.

“Cartoons are incredibly powerful,” Rall wrote. “Not to denigrate writing (especially since I do a lot of it myself), but cartoons elicit far more response from readers, both positive and negative, than prose.”

When readers aren’t offended the cartoonists have failed and swear to try harder next time. Rall mentioned hearing someone say on NPR that Charlie Hebdo was “gross” and “in poor taste.” Rall’s comment: “I should certainly hope so! If it’s in good taste, it ain’t funny.”

The night before the massacre, I happened to open the Christmas letter of a close relation making his annual pitch for secularism, reason, and peace. This time he enclosed a selection of Jesus and Mo, a webcomic drawn by “Mohammed Jones,” who’s British. The format rarely varies. Jesus (the one and only) and Mo (a double for he who cannot be drawn) sit at a bar arguing religion with the atheistic barmaid, who constantly gets the better of the exchanges though Jesus and Mo—themselves the Light—consistently fail to see it.

Here’s a recent strip:

  • Mo

You’re either amused or you’re riled but you’re probably taken by the equivalence. Do you buy it? Is the adherent of one religion more likely than the other’s to draw a sword?