If Garfield put on a yarmulke and affected a false Yiddish accent in order to con his way into an all-you-can-eat seder, would your newspaper print that comic? If the King of Id ordered the Wizard to turn all the Muslims in the kingdom into frogs, would that be too offensive for the funny pages? If the aptly named Hagar the Horrible ignored Dr. Zook's medical advice because ''He's Catholic, they don't even know the difference between wine and blood,'' would it be the editor's duty to replace the strip with a second rerun of ''For Better Or For Worse'' and send a strongly worded letter to Dik Browne's estate?
So after I'm finished with the gloom and doom of reading the local and national news, and am happily chewing of the food for thought served by your ''politically independent'' newspaper's three-to-one ratio of conservative verses liberal columnists on your editorial page, I like to get maybe a few chuckles by turning to the comics. Unfortunately, my smile is killed daily, as sitting there, just above a Pulitzer Prize winning strip with 44 years of history and a fleshed out cast that, better than all, is consistently funny, is the Duck.
I know that ''Doonsberry'' is perceived as having a liberal bent (one of the characters is gay!), but I completely fail to understand how anyone can think there is a need for some sort of ''balance,'' much less how that balance is equated to a poorly drawn, one-panel strip whose ''jokes'' are whatever the writer heard on ''Fox and Friends'' the morning of his deadline, repeated ad nauseum. ''Mallard Filmore'' is awful, unfunny and more often than not, just sad. But that's not the worst of it.
The worst of it came on the morning of Feb. 4. To wit: ''What atheists see in their pastries . . .'' Dear Editor, is your newspaper comfortable with offending the religious practices of a significant portion of the population? If you replaced ''atheists'' with ''Episcopalians'' in that piece, would that be appropriate subject matter for your funny pages?
Theists' deeply held personal beliefs that there is a God that will send atheists to Hell are no more sacrosanct than atheists' deeply held personal beliefs that there is no God. Neither belief should be the punch line of a comic strip.
As strips are sent out two weeks in advance, I submit that your editorial staff seriously dropped the ball here in allowing this blatant slur on the named religion of 6 percent to 10 percent of the country to ever see print. If there is a call for that sort of hate in your paper, it seems far more advisable to keep it with Cal Thomas and Michelle Malkin and the rest of the cartoons on the editorial page. Because "Mallard Filmore" is just that, a political cartoon pretending to be a comic strip, pretending to be funny.
It's time to lose the Duck.