Comic strip in university newspaper sparks controversy

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January 22, 2010

1:23 AM

University of Notre Dame’s student newspaper, The Observer, is in hot water after publishing a not-so-humorous anti-gay comic strip. The paper has since discontinued the comic strip, which made a joke about violence against gays.

According to the U.S. News and World report, the comic strip, named The Mobile Party, featured a saw with eyes, hands and feet telling a human a joke. The saw says, “What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?” A man responds, “No idea.” The answer: “A baseball bat”.

The original version of the comic strip featured the same two characters; however, in the saw’s final line, “AIDS” replaces “baseball bat”.

The newspaper editors rejected the “baseball bat” version but published the “AIDS” version.

The paper’s assistant managing editor, Kara King, resigned Monday and announced her move in a public letter to the Notre Dame community. King said a miscommunication with another editor led to the strip running without her reviewing the material.

“As assistant managing editor, I have failed in my duties to protect the quality and uphold the standards of The Observer,” King said.

The Student Press Law Center wrote that the comic’s creators, Colin Hofman, Lauren Rosemeyer and Jay Wade, a trio of Notre Dame seniors, apologized for the cartoon’s insensitivity in a letter published Friday.
They claimed that they were merely attempting to mock the homophobia they observed on campus, not add to it.

“Intolerance of homosexuality is a major problem on Notre Dame’s campus,” the letter read. “We tried to address it in our comics using the tool character to emphasize a mindset that we simply find ridiculous. We consistently try to write comics that rely on shock value and now we have gone too far, we realize we have abused the privilege and responsibility of contributing to The Observer.”

Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., is quoted in a statement that appears on the university’s website.

“The University denounces the implication that violence or expressions of hate toward any person or group of people is acceptable or a matter that should be taken lightly,” Jenkins wrote.

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