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The Koala and Charlie Hebdo

Former UCSD editor talks about "Jizzlam" issue that followed 9/11 attacks

The closest thing San Diego has had to French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo would have to be the Koala, UCSD’s sometimes profane student-run humor paper. Twelve people, including key Charlie Hebdo staffers, were murdered this week over satirical illustrations of Muhammad.

Two years after 9/11, the Koala published its own subversive issue called “Jizzlam – An Entertainment Magazine for the Islamic Man.”

There were nasty Islamic jokes (Q: What’s made of metal and glass and comes in 5,000 pieces? A: A bus in Jerusalem). Drawings included sex-toy warheads, illustrations showing “best sex positions during prayer,” and women in “burkinis.” There were twisted yule-tide carols slurring Islamic extremists. Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells: “Slashing through their face/With a one-sided scimitar/Burning the whole place/Blowing up their cars/HAHAHAHA.”

Since it was founded in 1982, UCSD students picked up the Koala expecting cringe-worthy slurs that would go after professors and administrators by name. But the “Jizzlam” issue brought on the big heat. Vice chancellors condemned the Koala as racist. Islamic students complained to TV stations that their student fees were underwriting a cesspool of hate.

Eventual Koala editor Steve York was a contributor when the “Jizzlam” fallout hit. “The [staff] was threatened by a few crazy Muslims,” York tells the Reader about the “Jizzlam” reaction. “The editor was jumped outside his apartment.”

When York became Koala editor, he says he took on other religions.

“I dealt more with Christian wackos… Jokes are jokes. Ten years or 1000 years from now things that are gross will continue to be funny. Look at what drives [Comedy Central’s] Tosh.0.”

York says it’s not easy putting out a counterculture manifesto like the Koala at UCSD.

“The Koala guys pretty much got their funding squelched and they had to move their office. They took their office away and gave it to the Guardian. That was a pretty big F-U from the administration. The Koala is still alive at UCSD but it's not as great as it once was.”

If York were editor now, would he put out something like the “Jizzlam” issue?

“Not without bulletproof and bomb resistant windows.”

The current editor of the Koala, Gabe Cohen, says he expects the new issue of the Koala to be out by January 16. He says this issue, like others before it, will be distributed for free by Koala staffers and on the steps of the campus library. But Cohen says he can't speak directly about the “Jizzlam”/Charlie Hebdo similarity.

“Our bylaws prohibit any media interviews unless a case of beer is provided,” said Cohen.

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The closest thing San Diego has had to French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo would have to be the Koala, UCSD’s sometimes profane student-run humor paper. Twelve people, including key Charlie Hebdo staffers, were murdered this week over satirical illustrations of Muhammad.

Two years after 9/11, the Koala published its own subversive issue called “Jizzlam – An Entertainment Magazine for the Islamic Man.”

There were nasty Islamic jokes (Q: What’s made of metal and glass and comes in 5,000 pieces? A: A bus in Jerusalem). Drawings included sex-toy warheads, illustrations showing “best sex positions during prayer,” and women in “burkinis.” There were twisted yule-tide carols slurring Islamic extremists. Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells: “Slashing through their face/With a one-sided scimitar/Burning the whole place/Blowing up their cars/HAHAHAHA.”

Since it was founded in 1982, UCSD students picked up the Koala expecting cringe-worthy slurs that would go after professors and administrators by name. But the “Jizzlam” issue brought on the big heat. Vice chancellors condemned the Koala as racist. Islamic students complained to TV stations that their student fees were underwriting a cesspool of hate.

Eventual Koala editor Steve York was a contributor when the “Jizzlam” fallout hit. “The [staff] was threatened by a few crazy Muslims,” York tells the Reader about the “Jizzlam” reaction. “The editor was jumped outside his apartment.”

When York became Koala editor, he says he took on other religions.

“I dealt more with Christian wackos… Jokes are jokes. Ten years or 1000 years from now things that are gross will continue to be funny. Look at what drives [Comedy Central’s] Tosh.0.”

York says it’s not easy putting out a counterculture manifesto like the Koala at UCSD.

“The Koala guys pretty much got their funding squelched and they had to move their office. They took their office away and gave it to the Guardian. That was a pretty big F-U from the administration. The Koala is still alive at UCSD but it's not as great as it once was.”

If York were editor now, would he put out something like the “Jizzlam” issue?

“Not without bulletproof and bomb resistant windows.”

The current editor of the Koala, Gabe Cohen, says he expects the new issue of the Koala to be out by January 16. He says this issue, like others before it, will be distributed for free by Koala staffers and on the steps of the campus library. But Cohen says he can't speak directly about the “Jizzlam”/Charlie Hebdo similarity.

“Our bylaws prohibit any media interviews unless a case of beer is provided,” said Cohen.

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Comments
5

Just because you can ridicule something doesn't mean you should. All religions operate the same. All other religions and wrong except yours. All religions want to dominate the world. All religions want your servitude. All religions want your money. While most religious people can get along with or at least tolerate someone else's religion there are always those who believe that they must convert you or kill you. All religions at one time or another have had followers take extreme measures to insure that their religion is the one. All Christian religions believe that everyone that does not accept Jesus Christ as their savior is going to hell but even these Christian groups can not get along. Mormonism is considered a cult and Catholics are not really Christian because they worship the Pope. It goes on and on.

Jan. 10, 2015

These guys at UCSD might want to rethink their satyric targets. If those Muslims, French citizens all, can take a reign of terror into Paris, it isn't beyond possibility that some locals could do something like that here. It's a place where "nothing like that could ever occur" that it does occur. Personally I'm not at all sympathetic to Islam, and I marvel at how accepting many women are to being treated as chattels and in some cases little better than livestock by those who profess Islamic faith.

Alex makes some good points in regard to religion being the cause of conflict, and many, many wars. But if you look at the basic teachings of Islam, they are far more militant and far less tolerant of other faiths than any other major religion. That does not bode well for the future of Western civilization, and I know that this sort of terrorism will last far beyond our lifetimes.

Jan. 10, 2015

Amen to Alex: just because you have the double-edged right to ridicule something doesn't mean you should. Nor should we negatively judge the religion of Islam. Whatever happened to honoring tolerance?

Just as the recent provocative, crude and stupid movie about assassinating Korean leader Kim Jung Un became an unlikely symbol for free-speech rights, the provocative, crude and offensive cartoons of Charlie Hebdo also have entered the pantheon. Ironic and pathetic.

Where is respect for another group's religious beliefs? Personally, I thought those cartoons looked like gratuitous attacks on the religious beliefs of a French minority group -- not political commentary. That they were received as incendiary literally got Charlie Hebdo offices firebombed and its staff massacred. Tragic.

Jan. 10, 2015

I had a few of my contributions to the Koala's "lists" feature published under a pseudonym back in the early '90s when I attended UCSD, so I admit to bias. That being said, the comments I'm seeing indicate an overweening need to self-censor and avoid hurting anyone's feelings, which slides down the slippery slope toward sheep-dom. After all, a major part of human progress is a willingness to challenge long-established and long-unquestioned doctrines.

If we're to refrain from criticizing Islamic practices because of religious tolerance, then we can't criticize or boycott right-wing Christian bakery owners for refusing to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples either. What's good for the goose...

Jan. 12, 2015

"Overweening need to self-censor and avoid hurting anyone's feelings...slippery slope to sheep-dom...a major part of human progress is a willingness to challenge long-established and long-unquestioned doctrines."

Where's the "human progress" in what happened in Paris last week? "Rights" became the posthumous rallying cry for Charlie's gross cartoons demeaning the prophet Mohammed and the Muslim religion practiced by the largest single minority group in France. Retribution was expected and it materialized -- in many dreadful deaths of Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. And there may be more to come, as the cycle of fear, action and reaction plays out.

Jan. 12, 2015

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