- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

Monkey business

“The original Curious George offends so many of the 21st century’s delicate sensibilities that if it were written today, no major publisher would accept it without demanding big revisions. And so, in crucial respects, the forthcoming movie is sure to take liberties with the classic books. …

“Consider how the first book violates our modern codes of political correctness. Rather than an eco-tourist, the Man in the Yellow Hat is a gun-toting poacher. When he first spots George, he says, ‘I would like to take him home with me.’ So he sets down his goofy hat as a lure. As George investigates, the man sneaks up from behind, pops him into a bag, and takes him home. … The man … [shows] him how to drink booze and smoke a pipe.

“There’s something to be said for keeping liquor and tobacco products out of movies aimed at children, but the new film’s whitewashing will go much further: … [A]lthough the man still wears a yellow hat, he’s also an unarmed naturalist. There’s no snatch-and-grab, either. Instead, George mistakes the hat for a banana and follows the man across the ocean as a stowaway.”

— John J. Miller, writing on “Curious George Goes Hollywood,” Feb. 2 in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Wrestling a pig

“If freedom of expression isn’t dangerous, it isn’t worth defending. One of the pernicious elements of big free-speech conflicts — and the controversy over 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten has in the past few days blown up into a conflict of vast proportions — is an argument usually made by free speechers themselves: that there’s no harm … in a simple picture or movie or book.

“Have these people never heard of ‘Das Kapital’? Of the Bible or the [Koran]? A book can cause plenty of harm. So can a cartoon. …

“Free expression advocates have made an effort to frame the Jyllands-Posten cartoons as a responsible attempt to broaden the conversation on religious freedom, when in fact … the stunt is unambiguously provocative, juvenile, offensive and irresponsible. That’s why it needs to be defended. —

“The actions of inflamed Muslims have been producing consistent reactions from their targets. … The issue will almost certainly lead to a revisiting of the lamentable laws against ‘hate speech’ in Europe. … Muslim activists are finding out why getting into a negative-publicity fight is as inadvisable as wrestling with a pig: You get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”

— Tim Cavanaugh, writing on “The Mountain Comes to Muhammad,” Friday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Whose choice?

“The top reasons women cite for having an abortion, courtesy of Planned Parenthood’s Web site, are as follows:

“She is not ready to become a parent.

“She cannot afford a baby.

“She doesn’t want anyone to know she has had sex or is pregnant.

“Her husband, partner, or parent wants her to have an abortion.

“She or the fetus has a health problem.

“She was a survivor of rape or incest. …

“The most disturbing item on this list is, ‘her husband, partner, or parent wants her to have an abortion.’ For an institution supposedly based on a woman’s free ‘choice’ and liberation, this is certainly an odd argument. … Planned Parenthood has no issue with a patient submitting to an abortion because she feels coerced by her boyfriend or parents.”

— Mary McPherson, writing on “Aborted Future,” in the January issue of Carolina Review

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