From Iceland — Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Published November 12, 2009

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Hello Grapevine,
As a concerned citizen who has had the displeasure of reading your rag of a publication, I have to express my disconcertion over the repeatedly offensive and racist comics produced by the inept Hugleikur Dagsson.  I feel that it is in extremely poor taste to publish this lowbrow tripe, and it is an insult to the intelligence of not only the readership of this paper but the editorial staff to allow this to continue.  Hugleikur´s newest comic in which he repeateldy uses the word ‘nigga’ is deplorable, and I immediatley lose all respect for this paper in allowing that shit to be printed.  It is outrageously racist and he should be ashamed of himself.  Either fire him, or continue to be the most disrepected, amateursh paper that this fine country has ever seen!
Joel Fridfinnson
P.S. If you would like to continue this debate feel free to email me at
Dear Joel,
Feel free not to read our rag of a publication.
Haukur S Magnússon

Hello Haukur,
Thank you for totally disregard to the point of my email, and FUCK YOU, show some respect for your readers in regards to the racism that your paper appearently promotes.
By the way in your futue editorials, if you are going to write in english, maybe take a fucking english language course.
Look, Joel,
you’ve got to lighten up a second here, man, and cut us some slack. What the hell did we ever do to deserve such an impolite, intolerant and generally angry message from you?
I honestly thought you were one of my friends kidding around initially. Alas.
Now. I seriously considered your initial comments, even though you made them very hard to take seriously (folks that want to bestow friendly advice – or any advice – upon you generally don’t start by telling you how much you suck and how everything you do sucks; why would you care what such people think?), and I do admit that I was concerned pre-publication about using Hugleikur’s strip with the word ‘Nigga’ in it.
You never want to toy with being racist. That’s not cool. So yeah, I did consider the strip prior to publication, and I did give your letter some thought when it arrived.
But then I remembered one thing:
-We strive to maintain and uphold artistic and expressional freedom, so long as it is not slanderous or willfully damaging.
Reading Hugleikur’s comic, it is very clear that it is not in any way meant to disparage or slander any particular race, creed or gender. He is clearly using words and phrases common to ‘gangsta rap’ music to depict the absurd personalities of the made-up wannabe-gangstas in his comic. There are untold examples of this in arts and literature throughout the ages.  So we let it slip, and I am happy we let it slip. It was a funny comic (and if Hugleikur’s sense of humour is not your bag, then that’s fine, too. Lots of other folks out there like it fine).
Now, again, you start your letter with saying you had the “displeasure of reading our rag of a publication,” and then close it by saying we may yet continue to be the most “disrespected, amateursh paper that this fine country has ever seen!” (sic!)
That is, if we fail to follow your demands and fire our good friend and long-time contributor Hugleikur Dagsson.
It seems to me that you already view our publication (sorry, rag) with great animosity and distaste, so why on earth would I consider doing something as drastic as firing our resident comic just because you don’t like what he has to say? If he’s gone, we’re still a rag, we’re still disrespected and we’re still ‘amateursh’ (whatever that means) in your eyes.
Ehrm. So. Yeah. There are plenty of people out there that like our paper just fine, they pick up every publication or download it on-line, and they write us letters telling us how much they enjoy the various contributions of our devoted and lovely contributors.
So I don’t see why we need to break our backs getting you to like us. You clearly have a problem with us, and that’s fine. People are different, and there are different media outlets to serve their tastes. So my initial response to you was to simply point out that you were free not to read our paper that you didn’t like. Nothing wrong or disrespectful with that.
Then you retort with a big FUCK YOU and accuse me of not showing you or your views respect? Now. This strikes me as odd and slightly unnerving. Why. Ehrm. Yeah. Just think about it for a second. Who’s being disrespectful here? I do show respect for my readers, as does the rest of the Grapevine’s staff and contributors. You have a whole lot of people here doing a whole lot of work every day (and often at night and on weekends), for little pay, so our readers may have something to read. And if they send us comments or suggestions on how things might be better done, we generally try and listen hard.
And if they want to submit contributions of their own, we happily accept them and often publish them. This paper really isn’t anything except the sum of its readers and contributors (often interchangeable positions) and the advertisers that enable us to print the thing. 
We do respect our readers greatly, and we work hard to please them. But if they want their opinions/rants acknowledged, regarded and responded to in a respectful manner, they better show some fucking respect when they give them, and not act like sugar-crashed three year olds in a shopping mall (or whatever).
So fuck you too, sir.
Now, to address the points of your e-mail, so as to show you the respect you apparently deserve:
-The Reykjavík Grapevine is not racist, has never been racist and will never be racist.
-Hugleikur Dagsson is not racist, has never been racist and will never be racist.
-The world we live in, and the art that seeks to reflect it, aren’t dualistic, black or white, right or wrong. Thankfully, both are much more complex than that.  A rose is not always a rose.
-No, I will not fire Hugleikur Dagsson.
-Fuck you too.
Finally, about my ‘futue editorials.’ I would love for them to be more proper and in better English. If you would maybe give me a ‘fucking english language course’ so I will sound less ‘amateursh’, then that would be great. I ‘appearantly’ haven’t mastered the ‘english’ language as well as your fine self.
PS – if you ever feel like growing up and having a calm, adult conversation about these issues and others that concern you, you can feel free to write us again. We encourage discourse of all kinds.

I visited Iceland in September and enjoyed reading your paper. The articles were well-written, the art work fantastic.  However, missing from your paper (or indeed any local source that I could find) were classical music listings.  I know there was some going on (including an opera performance and several recitals) but from your  paper it would seem that rock and club music were the only things   worth covering–or even listing!
You owe your readers and visitors–not to mention local and visiting performers–a little better coverage!  (I’d move there and do it for you, but from your article on immigration, that appears not to be an option.)
Damon Miller
Washington, DC, USA
Dear Damon,
thank you for your letter and your kind words. We must say, you are absolutely right. We do list classical events when we get word of them, and we have reviewed them on occasion, but the rock- and clubsters just seem more promotion savvy, that is, they always let us know when they are doing stuff.
That said, we will from now on try to list classical and opera events better and give them the coverage/exposure they deserve.
Dear Grapevine,
something has been bothering me for a while now. I am an immigrant from Africa and have lived in Iceland for four years.
I always thought of Iceland as a country of equal opportunities until recently.Let me cut the drama and say what is on my mind and possibly minds of other foreigners, if not only those from Africa.
If you have been to the Immigrations office or have a friend who has,you know how well protected this nation is against unwanted foreigners.One has to meet a number of things in order to be granted a visa or permit, work or resident.
Recently, I had to renew my residence permit, as usual I presented all that was requied of me, including three payslips from the last three months.The receptionist asked me if I had lost my job and i was glad to inform her i was still blessed with one.
I waited for three months as always, but this time i did not get any answer, so i decided to keep waiting, I thought to myself ”too many foreigners, a lot of files for those guys to take care of.”
After four months, i decided to contact the office. I met a kind lady at the reciption who informed me I did not have enough money to get my permit renewed. You should have seen the expression on my face as i tried to explain to the lady that i had been earning the same amount of money for all the years I have been here but had no problem renewing the permit.
She didn’t let me take up more of her time since she had finished telling me what the problem was.So, as it was i needed more money to renew my permit. I wondered to myself if anyone would explain to me when this new rule had been put into action and if it was why it had to be now when the country is in a finacial crisis.
As i drove home, a friend who is currently dating an American lady called to inform me about how the Lord had been so good to his girlfriend in regards to her permit. He told me that on her visit to the Immigrations office, she had been told that she only needed to apply for a renewal of her permit a few days before the old one expired.Also she had to acompany the application with just one payslip. Being that they are my friends, I know for a fact that she earns as much as i do.
I was happy for them but kept wondering whether some laws applied to only Africans or some officals simply dealt with each file as they please. I do not want to give you the impression that I need special treatment, but I am not the only African that has had the same experience. Is there some office that can explain how or maybe why applications are handled differently?
I will understand if you can not print this letter but atleast you or someone else who has seen it has his mind thinking and above all, I have told someone.
Dear Momo,
thank you for your letter. Of course we’re printing it – yours is a story that needs to be heard. It is baffling and saddening, and makes us question some of the ideas we’ve fostered about our home.
Even worse is the fact that this isn’t the first word we get of local authorities’ unfair or inconsistent treatment of immigrants or would-be immigrants (not to mention asylum seekers). It’s all kinda nauseating, really.
We urge others out there that have similar stories to share them with our readers. Let’s spread the word.

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