Opus Yanked From Wash. Post After Strip Takes Shot at Muslims

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 28, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to 'Hannity & Colmes.' After being deemed too controversial, a popular national comic strip was left out of many weekend newspapers for poking fun at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other major newspapers decided to cut the comic Opus from the weekend news. Headers in the Washington Post have declined to comment on the decision to pull the strip.

Sources tell FOX that the paper gauged the reaction of Muslim staff before making the final determination. Joining us now, the author of "America Alone," syndicated columnist Mark Steyn. How are you doing Mark?

MARK STEYN, AUTHOR: Hey Alan. Good to talk with you.

COLMES: Thank you sir. I know that you are probably going to claim that they ran a satirical piece on Jerry Falwell and thus you're probably going to say, correct me if I'm wrong, I don't want to do your part of the show, that there's hypocrisy here.

The Falwell piece though, was satirically saying Jerry Falwell was going to go to heaven and have to put up with the ACLU and feminists and people like that versus mocking an entire religion. So there is a difference, correct?

STEYN: I do not think this was mocking an entire religion. It's a mild comic strip. It's not really particularly funny. It's about the female character in the strip and who is prone to adopting fads and the fad she happens to adopt this particular week is as a Muslim woman.

And there's something very important here. If even the mildest jokes about Islam are off the table that is really a big question because jokes are one of the things that bind the culture. If you can't have jokes about everybody in society and if one group is hedged off and protected then that group can never truly be integrated.

COLMES: I agree with you. They should run not just the follow piece, which they did run.

And in fact Jerry Falwell had a celebrated case with Larry Flynt, which became a Supreme Court decision about satirizing public figures like he and they should run this as well and should not hold back. They're going to be offended no matter what you do.

STEYN: You make the legal point about the Jerry Falwell, Larry Flynt thing. This is not a First Amendment issue. This is really about something more insidious. It is the fact that it is so trivial and unimportant that makes it important. You can see this every day until finally you realize it. It is completely different.

COLMES: You fear there's going to be Shia law taking over the world or taking over the United States and you are paranoid and you think they're going to take over and institute their theocratic rules.

STEYN: No, that is the point I am making Alan that it's not going to be a big bunch of Imams running the crescent of Islam up over the White House next Tuesday but the fact that once it becomes generally accepted that the rules for making a gag about Muslims are different from the rules about making a gag about Christians or Jews or Buddhists or whoever, that in itself is quite a big concession.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey Mark, Sean here. Welcome back to the program. Thanks for being with us here. I think the issue here is why are so many people seemingly intimidated by the different groups. Do they fear or do not they want the bad press? It seems like there's real intimidation at work here. No?

STEYN: Well, I mean I think that's right. I mean these Danish cartoonists who published those Mohammed cartoons are still in hiding, still under police protection and I think that is the difference. If you put on a play about a gay Jesus on Broadway, there will be Catholics on the sidewalk holding placards and people here are worried here that's it's going to be a lot stronger.

You make a very good point Sean as well that it's our cravenness I think has implications for the Muslim community too. You know we talk all the time about where are the moderate Muslims?

Why don't the moderate Muslims speak but when the moderate Muslims see the Washington Post not even daring to run the mildest jest about Islam, they think it's the Washington Post that is scared of these guys, why should we be expected to speak out?

HANNITY: Well you know we have crucifixes submerged in urine. We have you know horse dung thrown on the Virgin Mary, et cetera. That came up but you know look at what is happening in reverse.

Do you think these newspapers maybe are looking at guys like Salman Rushdie when he broke the satanic verses and the fatwa that had been issued against him or the flying Imams and the lawsuit against John Does in that particular case, because they dared to inform authorities that they saw or witnessed suspicious behavior?

STEYN: I think that is absolutely right. You talk about Salman Rushdie. He's a famous guy. He's under protection. People forget about all the publishers and translators in Japan and Scandinavia and Italy and all over the map who got stabbed and shot and killed simply because of their association with this book. And that's the fact.

That is what is really at issue here. There is the appeasement of every little thing. Whether it's this soccer ball in Afghanistan that American troops were handing out and turned out to be offensive or whether it is Burger King ice cream in the U.K. that offends Muslims. They can't keep taking offense at everything.

COLMES: "They" is a very big group of people. I'm not sure everybody feels that way, but thank you very much Mark for being with us.

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