Metro Weekly

Notre Dame newspaper apologizes for viciously unfunny cartoon about anti-gay violence

“What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”

Opening line from a 3-panel cartoon that has caused controversy on the campus of Notre Dame university. The black-and-white illustration called “The Mobile Party” has a byline from Colin Hofman, Jay Wade and Lauren Rosemeyer. It depicts a saw with arms and feet asking a human the question. The human character says he doesn’t know the answer to the riddle, and the saw responds with the “punchline” — “A baseball bat.” If the meaning of the cartoon is lost in translation: The saw character is basically stating that the violent use of a weapon (the baseball bat) to the head of a gay person will leave them without brain function. (“Fruit” is a derogatory slur used to refer to gays. And “vegetable” is a derogatory term used to describe people who are alive but no longer show signs of intelligent response, often because of serious injury.)

”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.’ The Observer made a dangerously misguided decision that promoting violence was somehow superior to making fun of HIV/AIDS. Both versions of the cartoon were abhorrent…. 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.

From the blog of GLAAD, a LGBT watchdog group that monitors depictions of sexual minorities in the media. The group is complaining about the publication of an offensive cartoon published in the newspaper of Notre Dame university. (GLAAD)

It’s pretty well-known that cartoons often draw the most passionate complaints from readers of publications — not just for controversial editorial content, but also for the paper choosing to run one strip and removing another.

”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.”

Portion of a Letter from the Editorial Staff of “The Observer,” the campus publication for Notre Dame, a university in Indiana. They are referring to a cartoon that seemed to encourage gay “bashing” or at least draw attention to the subject in a terribly tasteless manner. (The Observer)

”Intolerance of homosexuality is a major problem on Notre Dame’s campus. We tried to address it in our comics — using the tool characters to emphasize a mindset that we simply find ridiculous. In our last comic, we had the human character, our voice of reason, not understand the joke because of its absurd nature. Reasons, however, are not excuses. We consistently try to write comics that rely on shock value and now that we have gone too far, we realize that we have abused the privilege and responsibility of contributing to the Observer, and therefore, the Notre Dame community as a whole.”

Portion of a public letter of apology from Colin Hofman, Lauren Rosemeyer and Jay Wade for creating crafting, and submitting for publication to the Notre Dame newspaper, a cartoon that refers to violence against gays in a joking manner. The trio and their supervisors drew the ire of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for allowing the piece to be run. In a similar recent situation, GLAAD complained about the mostly gay-friendly animated series “South Park” for running an episode that gratuitously used the words “faggot” and “fag.” The characters in that comedy show said they were trying to re-purpose that horrible, anti-gay slur to refer to loud and boorish motorcycle riders. (The Observer)

JD Uy has been a Metro Weekly webmaster, distribution manager, blogger and videographer since 2002.

Leave a Comment: