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.