by David Mendez
Last week, the Arizona Daily Wildcat student newspaper got into some hot water for publsihing a comic that was as unfunny as it was offensive (you can check out our reactions to it here and here); as a result, the comic's creator was canned and Wildcat editor-in-chief Kristina Bui heard numerous calls for her to step down from her position. Considering that she appears to have a spine, she has not.
However, today she published an apology detailing the what caused the comic's publication, the previous editorial process, and the editorial process moving forward. We've excerpted some of it here; for the rest, head over to DailyWildcat.com.
From the Daily Wildcat:
Last week, I made a terrible mistake.
In a distracted rush, I allowed the Daily Wildcat to print a comic strip illustrating a parent threatening his child to scare him about coming out. The child makes a crude joke, both fictional characters laugh.
Its intention was not to be funny in the same way that comics like “Garfield” should be. Instead, it meant to highlight a social commentary about hate speech and crimes against the LGBTQ community. But the cartoon’s message came across as “this should happen” although it meant to say “this does happen.” And the message should have been, “This does but should not happen.” That message could not fit in a four-panel drawing.
The world is full of awful things, and joking about them can work to shed light on them. But the jokes can only work if you use your medium to make those awful things better, not worse.
However, just as progress is hindered by satire that fails to contribute to meaningful discussion, progress is also hindered by moves to quash free speech. And, no matter how offensive it is, offensive speech remains protected.
It’s true that the cartoonist’s employment with the Wildcat was terminated Wednesday night, which led other readers to cite his First Amendment rights. But no one is constitutionally guaranteed space in a newspaper. The cartoonist can still publish. He just can’t do it in the Wildcat.