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Notre Dame Newspaper Issues Weak “Apology” Over Gay Bashing Cartoon

Update: Apologies from the cartoonist & the University President in the Comment section. Also in the comments: more fallout- Assistant Managing Editor resigns & cartoonists fired.

In what has to be one of the most weak, pseudo apologies I've seen in a long time, the Notre Dame student Newspaper, The Observer, issued an “apology” from the Editorial Staff on Friday for the sickening cartoon it ran that advocated bashing “fruity” gays with a baseball bat.

The piece, called “Responsibility for offensive comic”, starts off okay:
Notre Dame Logo 1964.gif

The editors of The Observer would like to publicly apologize for the publication of “The Mobile Party” in the Jan. 13 edition. The burden of responsibility ultimately lies on us for allowing it to go to print.

There is no excuse that can be given and nothing that can be said to reverse the damage that has already been done by this egregious error in judgment.

A good start for publishing a comic that says you should turn “fruits” into “vegetables” by bashing them with a baseball bat.

Then the editorial team chooses to leap off the cliff using distractions to deflect blame and not offering any hint of consequences for those involved in the publication of the “bash the fruits” comic.

Much more, including the cartoon, after the jump…

Just in case you forgot the comic we are talking about:


Character 1: “What's the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”
Character 2: “No idea.”
Character 1: “A baseball bat.”

It still makes me shake with anger every time I see it.

Pay No Attention to the Bigots Behind the Curtain

Instead of just taking the responsibility for the horrendous editorial decision, the staff decides to try deflecting attention on their violence-condoning call to action cartoon by bringing up… Wait for it… Senator Harry Reid's stupid, racist comments about Obama:

Unfortunately, the language of hate is an everyday reality in our society. Earlier this week, surprising comments made by Sen. Harry Reid about President Barack Obama's accent and skin color were made public and caused uproar. Now, at Notre Dame, a comic strip including hurtful language was printed in this publication, also causing — and rightly so — serious concern.

It becomes clear that hurtful language is still present among some circles, and, too often, it's not until comments like these become public that their true hatred is acknowledged.

Deflecting much?  “Pay no attention to the hateful cartoon in our paper… Remember that big Harry Reid uproar?”

Riiight.  This is totally the same issue- Reid using racially volatile, offensive language and condoning extreme violence on LGBT people.  Sorry, Observer, the deflection didn't work.

And then the ever useful argument “this is really a good thing” and “we really did the LGBT community a service” by showing that these feelings exists.

Really, Observer Editors?  I think we have plenty of evidence of that everyday- ask Gwen Araujo, Lawrence King, Angie Zapata, Matthew Shepard, Simmie Williams, Ryan Skipper, Duanna Johnson, or any of the hundred of LGBT people beaten or murdered ever year in violent hate crimes.

We don't need your stupid comic as a reminder that hate exists. We see it every day.

A Direct Reflection of the School, Paper, and Staff

The paper also doesn't really seem to admit to the huge editorial mistakes that led up to the cartoon being published or offer consequences to those that made the decisions:

On our part, we must practice more responsible journalism and editing. That this comic was published reveals holes in our editing practices, which are currently being addressed.

The content of “The Mobile Party” is in no way representative of the views and opinions of The Observer or the Editorial Board.

“Holes in the editing process”??  Funny- because the person that created the comic said that the newspaper asked him to tone down the original version of the cartoon that was on his blog:

The cartoonist had posted on his blog – though it's since been removed – his original version of the cartoon. In the original version, it shows that the punchline read, “AIDS” instead of “A baseball bat.” The paper, he reported, preferred “not to make light of fatal diseases.”

That doesn't sound like a “hole”.  It sounds like a conscious and thought-out decision to run the new “bash with a baseball bat” version of the cartoon because it was somehow more palatable than using AIDS as a punchline.  It seems like it “represents the views and opinions of The Observer and the Editorial Board” pretty damn well.

And where is the firing or resignation of the responsible parties? No where to be found.

Way Too Little, Way Too Late

This cartoon never should have seen the light of day.  This wasn't a slip-up.  It was a clear decision to mock and condone violence against LGBT people, made after deliberation and consideration by both the artist and The Observer's Editors.

As one of our commenters pointed out, Notre Dame's mission statement is (emphasis mine):

The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.

Obviously this mission in failing.

This was just a warning glimpse of what is bubbling on the campus at Notre Dame and in the Observer.  The only “lesson” from this is that the Newspaper and University need to start cleaning house and stop the atmosphere of hate that would allow something like this cartoon to be published.

Author's Note: There is also a “Letter to the Editor” from the St. Mary's Straight and Gay Alliance that was published in The Observer.

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