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January, 2008

The Writer at Work

God, Google And A Box Of Crayons
Stealth censorship of the worst kind
By  Richard Krzemien

Crayons, like multi-cultures, come in many varieties and help shape comprehension.
had planned on posting some thoughts about the Danish comics censorship incident.

It was going to be a short rant with a link to the "banned" comics (see below). But something troubling happened on my way to the altar of free speech today. I ran into a wall of stealth censorship so disturbing that it made the Danish comic dust-up pale by comparison.

First a few words about the comics to our Middle Eastern Muslim friends: Get over it. They're comics, not State policy.

They weren't intended to slander your God or religion. They were simply meant to stand up against self-imposed censorship and make a point about radical Islam. If they were offensive, oops. Sorry.

You may not know it, but in the U.S. only two newspapers printed the comic that depicts Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. I believe this is wrong. Every western newspaper should print it. It goes to the heart of how little we really know about each other's cultures.

Western society needs to see the comic for itself so that it can understand what the fuss is all about. Of course, by printing it we also have an obligation to print objections to it. In that way, we can learn from our differences of opinion and move forward as a culture.

Perhaps our two cultures will better understand each another once the Islamic press publishes their upcoming comics about the Holocaust. I personally can't wait. Maybe our respective newspapers will have the stones to print all of them side-by-side. That would be great. It might start a cross-cultural discussion about the issues.

Okay, back to us. Listen up, unholy West. That sound you hear is not the rioting. Rather, it is our freedom being flushed down the can. Why are we listening to Islamic extremists and not printing these comics? This is a legitimate international news story. Haven't you heard President Bush use the "F" word often enough?

Though I don't buy into his justifications for war, in this case of comics, I do believe freedom is worth fighting for. In fact, all of us who cherish freedom should stand together, both Left and Right, Republican and Democrat, American and European -- and you too lumbering Canada and little New Zealand and Australia with your kangaroos -- for the right of these artists, or anyone, to express their views.

This is an event that transcends personal ideology. No bombs are needed to fight this battle, just a strong voice from a podium. But where is our champion of freedom today?

Self-censorship is a nasty thing to behold. But there's something worse: stealth censorship. And right now corporations like Google are actively engaged in limiting our access to information in our own country. Recently, I went to Google to find the links to the Danish comics. I spent about 20 minutes looking through dozens of their pages. No comics. Not one.

So I went to Dogpile, a rival search engine, and found multiple links to the comics in less than 10 seconds. It's clear that Google is using its powerful data filtering technology to keep links like those to the Danish comics invisible.

Is this a big deal? You bet. If you've searched for information online that you already know exists but couldn't find, then you are a victim. If you sought honest opinions and instead found propaganda, then you are a victim. Unlike a bomb blast that you can clearly see, we are quietly being attacked from within by our own fears.

So when you hear the word "freedom" uttered, remember the comics. We are now fighting a new war, one that is as close as your fingertips. Thankfully, we do not need a bigger defense budget to fight it.

All we need is courage, vigilance, and a box of crayons.

See the comics that have been censored: Icon 

Richard Krzemien is the creator and perpetrator of The Writer At Work and IN contributor since day one. Check out his recently released The Writer at Work Comic Book at

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