From Iceland — Letters


Published March 10, 2006


Letter to the Editor,
Comic books, cartoons can be powerful. Words are powerful. Drawings are powerful. Why? Look at the hoopla that some Danish political cartoons has caused among the Muslim population. To the Muslims, this was a powerful message. A message that dishonours their beloved Prophet Mohammad. It stirs up dissent, hatred, violence, murder and mayhem. I am speaking in behalf of the comic book industry, since I am part of that industry.  Comic books can be just as powerful. Like their counterpart the cartoon, the comic book is made up of words and drawings. We saw the power of the comic book series by DC on the Death of Superman.
Comic book fans all know that comic book characters never die, they merely go to limbo and at some point of time, they can return. People who were familiar with Superman became interested in the Death of Superman series. Everyone knows who Superman is. Baby boomers remember George Reeves who played Superman on TV. Not to mention the Superman movies and the many Superman based TV series that were spawned by Hollywood. If you weren’t a collector, you found yourself in a comic book shop. This is utilizing the power of writing and drawing.
Non collectors were attracted to the idea that a great icon was being killed off. Superman is a symbol of America and the power was that a piece of America was being killed and like a magnet, this idea attracted many. Comic books and cartoons can be fun, but they can also be dangerous too, especially when the message is hate. The Danish cartoons and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad is not the way to use the power of writing and art. Violence to retaliate against those cartoons is wrong also. Two wrongs do not make it right.
Sincerely yours,
Paul Dale Roberts, Publisher
Dude, I think I agree with you, but somehow bringing up Superman in the Muhammad cartoon discussion feels genuinely blasphemous. Our position at the Grapevine was simple: we felt Jyllands-Posten was promoting hatred and stereotyping. We chose not to even think about the religious aspects of their bigoted cartoons.
Also, are you saying… Superman’s dead? No. No. Why him? He was so good. Why? Why?
Dear Bart–
My partner and I just returned to Boston from Iceland yesterday (a vacation to celebrate signing a new book contract!) and we wanted to let you know how helpful and entertaining we found your website and paper. We trolled your site for all our restaurant picks prior to arrival and picked up a fresh edition of the paper while we were there. It was entertaining, informative, provocative, and attitude-rich. Thanks for the great work.
If we had a suggestion, it would be that you provide a subsection that focuses on gay Iceland — where to go, what to see. We did stumble on the Cozy Cafe, but would have loved to have had more guidance. Please give it some thought. In the meantime, keep up with what you’re doing. We look forward to reading the Grapevine again next time we head back.
All the best,
Scott Pomfret
We’ll try to expand our coverage. Being “straight” and “unattractive”, we have had a hard time covering the nightlife—straight and gay. We know we’re lacking in this coverage, and we’ll do our best to improve it, either in the paper, or at least on the website. If anybody has recommendations, please drop a line to
Dear Paul and Bart
I’d simply like to thank you for your good work and for allowing fresh journalistic-winds to blow through the streets of Reykjavik. I just saw you guys on Silfur Egils ( and must say that I agreed with you 100%. Icelanders must certainly wake up, smell the coffee and read their history books if things are not going to get ugly. Keep up the good work gentlemen.
Regards from Boston,
Kristján Þór
The support from you and from many other readers regarding our attack on Jyllands-Posten, and on DV for publishing the Muhammad cartoons, was greatly appreciated. We believe the decision to publish the Muhammad cartoons was irresponsible at best, however, Egill Helgason, with whom we thoroughly disagree on this topic, was extremely generous in welcoming us to his show. I also think it’s safe to say that most Icelanders disagree with Egill Helgason on this particular topic—either that, or we at the Grapevine were so incredibly obnoxious that Icelanders have just been telling us what we want to hear regarding diversity. Either way, I like what I’ve been hearing.
All that said, having seen myself on TV, I can safely say that I have a face for radio—we print a photo in the paper solely so people will know whom to swing at when they disagree. If we’re on TV again, I’m hoping to get one of those LazyTown muppets as a stand-in.
Suggest your staff google “alcoa” and “enron”
John Doe Smith
Done. Apparently they turn rocks into flowers and frowns into happy faces. John Doe Smith, what a coincidence that your name sounds so anonymous. Wait a second, is this Kenneth Lay? Kenneth? Finally, we’ve found this generation’s Deep Throat, and what a coincidence that Google, the same search engine likely used to view countless video clips of porn, would also be the modern Deep Throat’s key weapon.
Dear Bart,
If you think that you won’t be sexually/racially harassed in Reykjavik during a weekday afternoon, think again.
I am an American citizen married to an Icelander and a resident of Reykjavik. I am 44-year-old half Asian female. I was harassed because of my race and sex. This incident occurred on January 26th between the hours of 13:30-15:00. I had my back turned when I heard shouts of ‘Nigger’. I turned around and was cornered by six,  12-13-year-old boys. One of them made a sexual obscene gesture at me. He thrust his pelvis at me while holding his crotch. They laughed, and then ran the direction I came from. In other words, I was followed, cornered and harassed. The fear of being followed, cornered and harassed has affected me both physically and mentally. When I filed a police report the day it happened, the police officer told me they know of problems with this area. So why isn’t anything being done? After this incident, the harassment continued.
People who live in certain areas deserve protection but other people don’t? It seems the state is well aware of such problems and nothing is being done (more police presence). The police officer suggested I contact Halldora Gunnarsdottir(City Hall). I met with Halldora Gunnarsdottir at the City hall on Wednesday February 15th to discuss this incident. She was very sympathetic and wanted to help. She planned on having a meeting with various people (she thinks might be able to do something about this problem). This is what I received in my email February 24th from her. It states ‘The meeting has not yet been held as some key-persons have not been able to meet but I hope it will be scheduled soon.’ I don’t believe anything will be done. Seeing is believing.
I’m sorry you had to go through this. The recent V-Day event by local parliamentarians was a step in the right direction, but there’s obviously a long way to go here. We most look up to Stígamót,, a local counselling service that has been active in educating the general public, and we are doing our best to report what comes our way, but the authorities need to step up on this one.

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