• Sweden's news in English

Paper defends pulling 'anti-Semitic' cartoon

Vivian Tse · 2 Nov 2010, 12:05

Published: 02 Nov 2010 12:05 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

DN culture editor Björn Wiman on Monday removed a version of the popular comic strip Rocky from the newspaper's website, in which characters in the cartoon referred to "the Jews at Bonnier."

Bonnier refers to Bonnier Group, a Sweden-based media group and publisher of DN. The group is controlled by the Bonnier family, which is descended from German Jewish immigrants. Alfred Bonnier moved to Sweden in the 1820s and started a publishing empire that has become of the country's most influential companies.

The strip was originally published in DN's print edition last summer without incident, but only made its way on to DN's website on Monday in the paper's På Stan (On the Town) blog.

Several hours later, the strip was removed, prompting a number of complaints.

"Many [believe] that the anti-Semitic cliché about 'the Jews at Bonnier' was used obviously ironically and it was wrong of me to remove the series from DN's website," Wiman on his blog on Monday.

"I could probably have worded my motivation better, but the bottom line is that I do not think it was equally clear to many others that the term was used ironically and that the strip would be in this case a funny work mocking anti-Semitic conspiracy theories."

Wiman explained that unaware readers could have easily missed the cartoon's irony and instead interpreted the cartoon as containing a purely anti-Semitic message.

"Those who missed it would as such perceive the series as anti-Semitic, even if the intention behind it is the exact opposite. Spread outside the context of DN readers who are acquainted with Rocky, it would become even more difficult to determine. Against this backdrop, it was natural to remove it," Wiman stated.

Speaking on Monday with the Dagens Media newspaper, Wiman stated clearly that the cartoon "should never have been published. It contained an anti-Semitic message."

He explained that the comic strip had been published automatically on the På Stan blog, but was removed as soon as he became aware of it.

Wiman blamed the controversial Rocky installment's original publication in DN's print edition on the fact that the newspaper's regular staff was not fully in place during the summer months.

"These are things that happen, but what was also tricky was the anti-Semitic message. They can sneak in under all possible circumstances," he told Dagens Media.

In the first frame of the strip, Rocky complains to a friend about his problems with women.

"I'm beginning to suspect that it's the Jews at Bonnier who are behind the fact that all the girls I fall for are evil," the strip reads.

Rocky then adds that his hypothesis is "just a theory," that he "could be wrong" and "It could be a coincidence," prompting his friend to say, "It could be your own fault."

In the closing frame of the strip, Rocky replies, "It could be my own fault, but things point toward it being the Jews..."

DN is owned by Bonnier, but according to Wiman, he personally decided to remove the strip, authored by artist Martin Kellerman.

Story continues below…

"Does it mean I think that Martin Kellerman is anti-Semitic? No. Does that mean that I am a bore? Yes. At least in this case," he wrote on his blog.

Collaboration with Martin Kellerman has continued as usual, he added.

Rocky is an autobiographical comic strip drawn by artist Martin Kellerman that focusses on an anthropomorphic dog, Rocky, and his friends in Stockholm. Kellerman created the strip after his girlfriend broke up with him and he was fired from his job as a cartoonist for a pornographic magazine.

The strip was initially picked up by the free newspaper Metro 1998 and moved from publication to publication after multiple newspapers cancelled the strip due to reader complaints over profanity and sexual content.

Attempts by The Local to reach Kellerman and Wiman for comment were unsuccessful.

Related links:

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:09 November 2, 2010 by gorgepir
Well, as long as freedom of speech is used as an argument for publishing stuff that insults Muslims, I guess it is ok.
15:19 November 2, 2010 by ppaf
This is really disappointing. I was totally for the publication of the Muhammad cartoons, and thought it was medieval the reaction against it.

But I hope this dude (the editor) gets fired for censorship. He claims the author of the cartoon is not anti-Semitic, admits that the cartoon is ironic and still decides to censor it because people might miss the irony.

Hej, idiot! It's called freedom of speech and it works in all ways!!!!!

Even worse, from the description it is really not anti-Semitic at all, unless having the word "Jew" makes it anti-Semitic alone. That case, remove all cartoons which contain the words "Catholic, Muslim, Buhist, Hindu, Roma, any reference to nation and or skin color".

...the result... a whole lot of politically correct, not funny cartoons...
15:55 November 2, 2010 by Kaethar
How is this censorship? The editor of a magazine has every right to decide what to put and what not to put in a magazine. It only becomes censorship when external sources (like the government) try to but in. o.O

I swear people are getting more ignorant by the day...
16:03 November 2, 2010 by Authentica
So I guess while certain groups of people are over-sensitive (muslims), others are sacred (Jews).
16:12 November 2, 2010 by pjtaipale
Hey, freedom of speech means that you *can* publish things. If a paper *has to* publish something (for instance, in order to deliver an equivalent quota of insults towards muslims and jews), that isn't freedom of speech.
16:26 November 2, 2010 by calebian22
This is just a play by the paper to not look like pansies in the future when something comes up concerning Islam. Newspapers have taken a lot of flak for self-censorship over anti-Islam cartoons. Now they can point to this next time and claim they have a policy of respect for all religions rather than being cowardly little candy pants when the muslim world gets it's undies in a bunch over some ink. They won't be caving. They will be respectful.
17:11 November 2, 2010 by Torontonian

I wanted to correct your spelling mistake:

So I guess while certain groups of people are over-sensitive (muslims), others are scared (Jews).
17:30 November 2, 2010 by truthworthy
Aha. so when it is about jews it is anti-semitic and when it is about Muslims it is freedom of speech. WoW
17:40 November 2, 2010 by Strongbow
Sounds like he was mocking the simple blame thought pattern of antisemites.
18:18 November 2, 2010 by Swedesmith
If the paper edited everything that could offend anyone, it would be a blank piece of paper.
18:21 November 2, 2010 by maxbrando
What a bunch of chickens...s you all are. Since wehen does someone's "perception" of something count??
18:32 November 2, 2010 by krrodman
This is really embarrassing.

I want to make sure that I understand......

Wiman recognized that the cartoon was satire, but was afraid that the Swedish people were too stupid to recognize it as such and would be influenced negatively by it "anti-semitic" tone.

Pathetic. Political correctness run wild...

This is a perfect example of why free speech is a sacred right in western society. Humans, despite their best intentions, will often screw it up.
18:44 November 2, 2010 by Rishonim
I am actually happy they removed it from the site. We don't want to have 88 year old Mordechai and his 7 and 9 year old great grandchildren's Shlomo and Rivka out in the street burning cars while chanting Baruch hashem Adonai. We know how easily the Jews get angry at the drop of a hat ;-)
18:48 November 2, 2010 by eZee.se
Disgraceful. Put the strip back.

I dont care if its cartoons about Muslims, Jews, Mexicians, Indians, blacks, whites or f'ing greens and purples - its freedom of speech and an idiot should not be the judge of what I would "get" or not AFTER its been published.

Leave the "freedom" in "freedom of speech" alone - if you start choosing and cherry picking then it becomes hypocritical .
20:19 November 2, 2010 by asian369
Hence proved that journalism can be trick, fraud, sham and hypocritical when has to deal with "Freedom of Speech", I must say a cancer to journalism.
20:59 November 2, 2010 by Swedesmith
Rishonim, you gave me my chuckle for the day.
21:34 November 2, 2010 by krrodman

I understand that your post is satire, but I am equally certain that ordinary Swedes will believe that Mordechai, the old Jew, is a terrorist.

Sorry, but for the good of Sweden we will have to eliminate you and your blog...........
22:53 November 2, 2010 by gogo99
Well... after you (Europeans including Swedes) murdered so many Jews during the WWII, you don't really have the privilege to even hint about antisemitism. I'm so happy there are so many Muslims in Sweden. They will not be quiet like the Jews were back then (they are quiet also in the present if we look how much antisemitism there is in Sweden today). The Europeans deserve the Muslims. I guess.. what goes around, comes around ;)
02:00 November 3, 2010 by Hindustani786
Hello Mr HITLER Bonnier.

Being FAR away from ISRAEL, you have proved yourself to be a true Jew. Who can't even tolerate the word Jew in A comic strip

And comes with a full support to defame religious figure for 2 BILLION MUSLIM population.

Bonnier DN, Jylland post and other GUTTER SPINE publications has formed a Ghetto to offend ISLAM at every corner where as to defend Zionist ISRAEL and its HITLER religion at every corner.

Well Done JEWISH Bonnier HITLER.
04:49 November 3, 2010 by ehwhat?
Dear Hindustani 786,

If you haven't already, please take your pills. Your response made no sense whatsoever. I'm sure that you will be more coherent after a nice lie-down.

The Editor over-reacted. This happens. The discussion wasn't about Israel, it was about Jews and the perception of a continuing libel. Your decision to immediately equate a discussion of Jews and Anti-Semitism to Israel is astonishing. The cartoon was published in Sweden. The concern was for Swedish Jews. A Swedish editor pulled the piece (wrongly as far as I am concerned). Do try to encompass the actual situation and keep focused.

There will be other articles that actually are about Israel and you can make your comments then. Just a thought, you might want to write them out first and throw away the first three sets. The fourth set may then make sense and be applicable to the discussion.

As for the childish capitals highlighting "Hitler" etc., you should know that Hitler is a noun and you are misusing it. There are several excellent books available online or at your local shop or even library (mainly empty these days) that can help in this regard. Finally, disagreements that maintain some level of civility often have more of an impact than wild outbursts followed by "flying crockery."
07:17 November 3, 2010 by LordSqueak
I have no idea what "anti-Semitic" means.

I just seems to be used as an excuse to remove any critisism or ,,well anything that someone might not like. It's being used like a special word for "I don't like that thing", by anyone who has any connection to jews or israel.

It's a shame realy, because that just waters it down to mean nothing, so when the next Hitler shows up, calling him, or her, anti-semitic, is like saying "I don't like the color of your pants".
07:23 November 3, 2010 by Alf Garnett
@hindustani786:#19 I can see from your ranting that you're obviously not linked to the hindu religion. If 786 is your d.o.b start acting like an educated adult, not a spoilt childish zealot.

I must concur with ehwhat? above, but please when you take your medication, double the dose.
08:46 November 3, 2010 by comentatir
@Kaether #3

I would have preferred to say go and look at the definition of the censorship somewhere but I guess thats what you did at some point and strictly believe what you have been told.

Use your brain at least!!!
09:16 November 3, 2010 by cowboykodp
Lets face it, the anti-Islam gang here HAVE to say "Oh, we MUST uphold freedom of speech, no matter what religion". Otherwise they would sound hypocritical.

Or, "They are just doing this to appease the evil Islam".

But if we show some compassion, which is rare in today's world, we will realize that IT HURTS PEOPLE. Whether anti-Jew or Anti-Islam, we must be respectful.

Unfortunately, most people in the world will only hear the first word in any sentence, without understanding the context, or the real reasons behind peoples angers.

For example, "so and so is a Bonier Jew", they hear "I knew Jews were ...."

Or, "Mohammed and turbin bomb" people think "I knew all Muslims are violent...."

So, to understand the impact of such meaningless actions, just take your own worst feature and insecurity and imagine standing in front of 1000 people in an auditorium, and then imagine all 1000 people laughing at you and pointing at you and making fun of you. Then maybe you can understand.

Freedom of speech is important, but lets use it when we can accomplish a positive situation. Freedom of speech is in danger with its over use, not with its responsible use.
11:00 November 3, 2010 by marianne667
When will this silly political "correctness" ever stop? One is afraid of open one's mouth these days.
15:30 November 3, 2010 by Gustafus
When we say Jews control media content - we are called bigots - even as Jews control media content.

When we ask why there are differing standards for Jews and Muslims in media - we are told there are no differing standards - even as Juan Williams of PBS gains a 2 million dollar contract after insulting Muslims - and Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas are in the dustbin for ruffling Jewish feathers.

So we ask.... Why are Jews treated differently than the other 98% of the world.... then we are called bigots and our comments are erased.

Can you imagine being a German in the 1940's - trying to explain to the world the horror of occupation??? How about a Palestinian or American - trying to show the world the evil of your occupiers???
15:54 November 3, 2010 by Hagrid
There are clear distinctions between the Muhammad cartoons and this case of the Rocky cartoon.

1. Following the Muhammad cartoons, there were many riots, looting, flag-burning and death-threats by Muslims in Scandinavia and all over the world. Whereas now I haven't heard a single Jew protest, even politely.

2. The Muhammad cartoons were drawn in order to express PROTEST against a religion which advocates violence. Whereas the Rocky cartoon attempts to do the exact opposite: SUPPORT a religion against baseless libels, using cynicism . Therefore, any sort of argument about only criticising Muslims while sparing Jews of criticism (as seen from some clueless posters here) is totally incongruous and irrelevant.

The only valid argument here could be that Swedes find it insulting that the author assumed they are stupid enough to agree with the silly statement in the cartoon, and are not clever enough to understand his cynicism. Such argument is acceptable.

3. The Muhammad cartoons were taken down due to EXTERNAL pressures. Whereas in this case, the author HIMSELF decided on taking down his own cartoons. This is clearly not censorship. The only one impeding his freedom of speech was himself.
16:09 November 3, 2010 by Hindustani786
Dear ehwhat?

you please do not try to divert my point from saying that ISLAM bash ing is allowed and anti semitic issues are not tolerable in Swedish society.

What the hell are you pointing here that Jews who are living in sweden are not subjected to any comic strip but it is allowed to humiliate MUSLIMS living in Sweden and around the world.

Better you keep utter your nonsense in front of a mirror repeatedly, may be you will become Gandhi of your dream.

In the conclusion i would like to repeat that the true followers of HITLER in the name of publications like DN, Aftonbladet, jylland post and other illeg-iti-mate sister organizations are formed ghetto to insult Muslims at every corner. where as not to utter a word Je-w in a simple comic strip.

What a build up of hypocrisy. please if you are a Je-w then behave like a Je-w not like a Hitler (noun) :D

@Alf Garnet t

Hey you, I do not have a habit of using pills(Via gra) as you do before writing any comment . so go and live in your dream not reality.

Even, You do not sounds like a Christian or Atheist, but a Je-w ?

Listen me, don't behave like an Israeli boy, come on grow up!
17:18 November 3, 2010 by Strongbow
@Hagrid, Kellerman did not pull his own strip, it was the editor that did, in fear of anticipated external pressures, or lawsuits.
19:04 November 3, 2010 by Hagrid
@ Strongbow,

Allow me to rephrase my last sentence: the only one impeding THE PAPER'S freedom of speech was THE PAPER itself.

As far as freedom of speech is concerned, the paper is one whole unit, and what goes on inside the paper is irrelevant to the discussion. It is not considered supression of freedom of speech, when the editor decides to drop a story (or cartoon in this case) by one of his reporters, at his own will. This is called editorial considerations. It is only considered supression of free speech, if the paper drops a story due to external pressures (such as from the government, lawsuits, or threats of violence). Such was the case with the Muhammad cartoons, however this is clearly not the case now. Not only because Wiman went out of his way to explain how this cartoon was a mistake which might accidentally achieve the opposite result than intended (and I genuinely believe his ethical motives), but also because the Dagens Nyheter has absolutely nothing to fear from the Jews. Anyone with half a brain understands that no malice was intended by this cartoon, and thus there is absolutely no case for a lawsuit here.
00:03 November 4, 2010 by ehwhat?
Dear Hindustani786,

Islam bashing isn't acceptable in Swedish society. I certainly haven't suggested that it is. If anything people tend to shy away from bashing anything, even if it is well deserved. We also don't use poorly constructed language translators. Is there anyone who actually speaks English near you who can check your materials before you post them? This might help. You are still pretty much incoherent.

The article was concerning a cartoon considered to be anti-Semitic (a quick aside for Lord Squeak - if you weren't being facetious you might wish to Google the 2005 definition by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) ) and was pulled. Cartoons depicting Muslims unfavorably have also been pulled from time to time. Unless legally actionable, I think this behaviour is a mistake. It would be a good idea for all concerned if we grew somewhat thicker skins, embraced freedom of speech and attempted to integrate into our country's culture and society.
00:12 November 5, 2010 by ngecenk
heh... freedom of speect my a*s! where are all theloca.sel 'pro-freedom-of-speech' battalion now!
Today's headlines
Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

How to make autumnal Swedish apple cake
Photo: SwedishFood.com

This tasty cake is an autumn staple in Swedish cafés. Why not make it yourself!

Facebook slammed for cutting Swedish breast cancer video
File photo of the landing page of the Swedish version of Facebook. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant removed a breast cancer awareness video because it deemed the images "offensive," according to the Swedish Cancer Society.

Pastor rapped for depicting rival as Nazi in church play
A different pastor. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The pastor allegedly found it funny.

In Pictures: Look inside this perfect Swedish island home
This modern Gotland home was designed and built by two Swedes. Photo: United Frog Studios/AB

Anna-Lena and Johan designed and built their home with tall beautiful windows, a smart heating system, and a separate section for their greyhounds.

Cannabis worth millions seized at Swedish port
A file photo of a Swedish police cannabis find not related to the story. Photo: Polisen

The 300kg haul was found by in a truck which drove off a ferry in Karlskrona.

Roll over Volvo: there’s a new Swedish car in town
Photo: Björn Olsson

Car developers in Gothenburg have given Volvo a new sibling.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
People-watching: October 5th
Must-watch: Incredible time-lapse video of Northern Lights in Sweden
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
jobs available