An award-winning cartoonist is seeing red after editors at The Washington Post and other newspapers pulled a "very tame" cartoon that alluded to the Prophet Muhammad.
Wiley Miller, whose "Non Sequitur" comic strip has won several national awards and appears daily in roughly 800 newspapers, said he was not surprised by the decision to yank the single-panel, "Where's Muhammad?" cartoon because even the word itself is such a "dicey thing" nowadays.
"That's all they saw," Miller told FoxNews.com of the word Muhammad. "[Editors] didn't see the satire was on them, of being petrified to run anything related to him. But this whole thing has just gotten so silly over the years. It's something I can't lay off. It's my job as a satirist to point out the stupidity in the world. And the editors fell right in line with proving how stupid it is."
The cartoon, which was originally submitted in August and had been scheduled to appear in newspapers nationwide on Oct. 3, depicts a lively, seek-and-find-esque park scene complete with a giraffe, a skateboarder, a cyclist, frolicking children and a large hippopotamus. An accompanying caption reads: "Picture Book Title Voted Least Likely to Ever Find a Publisher … Where's Muhammad?"
Miller, 59, of Maine, said the cartoon was intended to be a satirical reference to the global furor that followed the 2006 decision by a Danish newspaper to solicit depictions of Muhammad. It also invoked "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!," a free-speech-inspired call to action this year originally jump-started by a cartoonist now living in hiding after receiving death threats from Muslim extremists.
Miller said he frequently uses Biblical references in his work, citing "great metaphors" he can draw upon throughout his comic strip. But the decision not to run this drawing, Miller said, is an example of being overly sensitive due to the subject matter.
"They proved me wrong by not running it, by being afraid of running it," Miller said. "It was a tame cartoon. The satire was on media, not Islam."
Miller said he has yet to receive a single piece of correspondence from fans who were upset or offended by the drawing.
"Quite the contrary, they loved it," he said. "Who the hell knows what Muhammad looks like?!"
Meanwhile, Andrew Alexander, ombudsman for The Washington Post, wrote on Sunday that he thought editors at the newspaper were "wrong" to withhold the cartoon.
"Clearly, Miller has a right to draw the cartoon, and The Post has the right to run it," Alexander wrote. "But 'Non Sequitur' followers expect that. And there's a difference between provoking anger and provoking readers to think."
Ned Martel, the newspaper's Style editor, said he decided to yank the cartoon after conferring with others, including Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, because it "seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message."
The "point of the joke was not immediately clear," Brauchli added, according to Alexander.
For his part, Miller said he intends to lampoon a new target in the near future -- editors.
"The irony is rife," he told FoxNews.com. "How the editors mishandled it and only compounded it with their spin on it, it's a matter of sitting back and letting them hang themselves. They don't need any help from me."
Photo credit: Non Sequitur © 2010 Wiley Miller. Dist. by Universal Uclick. All rights reserved.