Because college students are, so often, stupid, and they live in a bubble of keg stands and study groups, sometimes they do very terrible things. Like publish a cartoon in a student newspaper that advocates beating the crap out of homos.
Notre Dame University’s The Observer newspaper published the above “The Mobile Party” cartoon this week; its message is pretty self-explanatory. Except regular readers of the paper might not be all that shocked by its tone: “The original version of the cartoon, which included the gay-bashing response of ‘AIDS,’ was rejected by the paper,” relays PrideSource. “Both versions were posted on a blog presumably run by the cartoonist, but were taken down on Jan. 14. This is not the first time Mobile Party cartoons have caused a stir, noted Notre Dame student Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick in an e-mail to Between The Lines. Past cartoons – both accepted and rejected by The Observer’s editors – have included racist, sexist and generally prejudiced comments, including jokes about kidnapping, racial profiling, rape and overweight women.”
And color us surprised to hear GLAAD is actually on the case, demanding an apology from the paper. Which is should deliver. Writes the org:
GLAAD contacted The Observer immediately upon seeing this cartoon. The Editor in Chief Jenn Metz relayed a tearful and what appeared to be heartfelt apology by phone. She explained that she was not present when the decision to run this cartoon was made, and that she was incredibly upset that others on staff had made that decision.
Metz plans to run what she describes as a “full retraction and apology,” in Friday’s edition of The Observer. GLAAD will watch for that retraction and apology. Additionally, GLAAD asked Metz to ensure that the staff responsible for running this cartoon – both the cartoonist and editor who decided it was fit for print – be reprimanded.
But hey, how cute is it that GLAAD found an entity to criticize that is not a corporate sponsor of the organization?
Meanwhile, in the amount of time it took GLAAD to issue its “say you’re sorry or else, uh, nothing” release about a small college newspaper, websites like MediaMatters.org have found about 25 instances of anti-gay rhetoric to respond to.
UPDATE: The newspaper has posted an apology, of sorts, which makes no mention as to whether The Observer will continue to publish “The Mobile Party” cartoons.
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.
The Observer, though an independent newspaper, is representative of the community of the University of Notre Dame and the values it so cherishes: family, understanding, service, respect and love.
Allowing this cruel and hateful comic a place on our pages disgraced those values and severely hurt members of our Notre Dame family — our classmates, our friends. For this, we sincerely apologize.
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.
The truth is, these comments should not be made at all, and we will not allow our pages to be a forum for such hatred. Publishing commentary that seems to encourage or support hate against fellow human beings is inexcusable.
We must, however more forward, and look to promote instead a culture of acceptance and support for all.
The Office of Student Affairs and the Gender Relations Center, as well as student groups like the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, have worked tirelessly to foster an educated community and an environment of acceptance and love. We would ask that those currently working toward ending discourses of hate on campus continue to do so. We greatly thank you for your tireless effort.
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.
In reevaluating our policies, we hope to ensure The Observer will be able to recover from this low point in its almost 50-year history and once again be able to serve the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s community with the dignity it deserves.
We would like to thank all of those who have called, e-mailed, written and visited our offices this week in outrage.
The content of “The Mobile Party” is in no way representative of the views and opinions of The Observer or the Editorial Board. We hope that as we work together to address this serious issue, we will be able to regain your trust.
We vow to continue to represent the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College in a way that is respectful and accepting of each member of our community.
UPDATE JAN. 18: Not only did today’s Observer carry a note that “The Mobile Party” will no longer be published in the paper, there was also a resignation statement from Kara King, the assistant managing editor: “A miscommunication between another editor and myself led to the comic running without me first reading and approving the material. Regardless, no excuse can justify the comic even being considered for publication, and the duty to censor it fell to me. I failed to do so, and am solely responsible for providing a forum for this message of hate.”