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Student cartoonist fired after Trayvon Martin cartoon

University of Texas student editorial cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, is no longer The Daily Texan’s cartoonist after she created a national stir with a cartoon that run on Tuesday. The cartoon depicts a mother (labeled “The Media”) reading to her daughter saying, “And then … the big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy.” (See cartoon above)

Eisner apologized yesterday stating:

I feel the news should be unbiased. And in the retelling of this particular event, I felt that that was not the case. My story compared this situation to yellow journalism in the past, where aspects of news stories were blown out of proportion with the intention of selling papers and enticing emotions.

The paper’s editorial board has also apologized and announced that the cartoonist was no longer on staff.

However, the decision to run the cartoon showed a failure in judgment on the part of the editorial board. We have engaged in meaningful dialogue with many people who shared their concerns and outrage with us.

We made a mistake, and we understand that the outcome of our action extends beyond Tuesday’s cartoon and prompts us to reflect on a larger problem that persists at The Daily Texan and on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, something we should have done before Tuesday’s paper ran.

Community Comments

#1 Jules Rivera
March/29/2012
@ 1:26 pm

Let me get this straight. The editorial board of this paper, who had to have seen this strip before it was printed, now apologizes after a heap of public backlash. What if the public hadn’t said anything? Would the editors at the Daily Texan just keep publishing material with the kind of backwards thinking that went into this strip? This seems like a lot of backpedaling to me, like that guy at your job (you know the guy) who gets called out making a horribly offensive (especially racist) joke, and tries to cover it up with a bunch of “Hey, just joking, you guys.” That’s what this feels like here.

If this cartoonist wanted to make a statement on yellow journalism, there are 1,000 other ways she could’ve gone about the issue without having to resort to the kind of ignorant language she did. I mean, “Colored boy?” Really? Do I even need to go into what’s wrong with that? Do I have to say it?

#2 Godvia
March/29/2012
@ 2:10 pm

Wow!

#3 Mark Juhl
March/29/2012
@ 4:49 pm

The handling of the case in the media has been racist both in how it’s portrayed both people involved and in how it’s framed the story, IMHO the language in the toon isn’t off base. The words she used accurately portray that fact.

#4 Carl Moore
March/29/2012
@ 7:17 pm

From the verbal description, I see absolutely nothing wrong with this cartoon (too bad we can’t see it). In fact, I think it’s a terrific cartoon. Why? Because she’s making fun of a truth – the MSM has taken this story and, as usual, distorted, bent, and twisted it into their favorite racial paradigm – evil racist white man (oops, I thought Hispanics were “brown”) guns down innocent little black kid (oops, he’s 17, 6’2″ tall, and apparently has several run-ins with the law and school authorities) while the police do nothing. It sells papers, it pops up ratings, it satisfies and affirms liberals views of this country as hopelessly racist, and gets the juices running or our national race hustlers out there (Jackson, Sharpton, Spike Lee) who can’t get their mugs in front of a TV camera fast enough… Stephanie should not have been fired, she should be applauded for a satirical yet truthful cartoon that courageously goes against the grain of the PC lynch mob out there.

#5 Mike Peterson
March/30/2012
@ 4:03 am

The cartoon is readily available for viewing, Carl. You just have to follow the links.

The remarks at the student paper are revealing — the usual whining of poor, persecuting white folks (is that a major these days? An alternative to those who don’t want to study history?), there are some interesting comments.

One point made several times is that it was cowardly of the editors to regret having run it and then fired the cartoonist but held onto their own jobs. Agreed.

If the cartoon was objectionable, they should have sat down with the cartoonist and talked about how to fix it up so it could make her point without the distractions it caused. She could, of course, refuse and have it spiked,but there’s no logical excuse for running it and then firing her, unless everyone leaves together.

College journalism is where you learn things, but learning that editors are self-serving cowards is not supposed to be one of those lessons.

#6 Mike Peterson
March/30/2012
@ 4:04 am

(“AMONG the usual whining … etc”)

#7 Jay Delacorte
March/30/2012
@ 6:41 am

This is just awful – what an intolerant country we have become. Anything outside of the PC-police’s comfort zone gets smacked down. The cartoonist is fired – for what?

The cartoon itself has been censored – the links end with a big “Access Denied.”

Just… awful.

#8 Mike Lester
March/30/2012
@ 8:30 am

As an expert, my take is that the cartoon looks exactly like what it is: a poorly drawn, typical student work that used a racially charged phrase -only acceptable to utter by 12.6% of Americans, to make a point nobody wanted to hear because the Trayvon/Zimmerman case has already been tried.

All that’s left is for the DOJ’s private militia, The New Black Panther Party with their bounty on his head (Molly Norris anybody?), to find him. Then we can all NOT go to Las Vegas.

#9 Terry LaBan
March/30/2012
@ 9:25 am

Anyone who wants to see the cartoon can find it here:
http://gawker.com/5896863/university-of-texas-student-paper-wins-most-racist-trayvon-martin-cartoon-contest
There is also a link to some of Ms. Eisner’s other work–apparently they are quite hard up for decent cartoonists in Texas.

Given the outrage of people like Mike Lester and Mark Juhl, you’d think Zimmerman was the one who got killed. But by the grace of the Stanford police department, he didn’t even spend enough time at the station to eat a boloney sandwich, even though his story has more holes in it than any hole-y thing you can think of. If it’d been a black( make that “colored) guy stalking and then gunning down a white teen on his way back from the convenience store, I can only imagine what Msrs. Lester and Jule would have to say. Given the current efforts of conservatives to give anyone with a trigger finger the right to judge and execute their fellow citizens, they probably don’t think police departments are even necessary. It’s government, after all, and government’s always bad.

#10 Antony Volley
March/30/2012
@ 9:38 am

Aside from it being REALLY CRUDDILY DRAWN and lettered it’s a pretty good encapsulation of how the American Right-wing media portrays events like this…acting all “butt-hurt” as if 400 years of slavery, oppression and white privilege never existed….@ Carl Moore–I wouldn’t say the Trayvon Martin has been portrayed as an “innocent” in the coverage I’ve read/watched, just ’cause he’d had “run-ins” with the police and school authorities, so what, I’d say there’re LOADS of 17 year olds who have! And they don’t deserve to be shot, either.
HOWEVER…..I don’t think that the cartoon should’ve been censored and the “cartoonist” fired.

#11 Jules Rivera
March/30/2012
@ 10:07 am

@Terry Labian: I hope you mean “Jule” as in “Juhl.” I had nothing to do with anything that guy said.

That aside, what this cartoonist did was try to be edgy and evocative and came off as offensive. I don’t think this was an act of racism so much as dull-witted writing. And if all you guys out there are complaining she is a victim of the “PC police,” no, sirs. She is not. She is a victim of the court of public opinion, who believes it’s not okay to make a sarcastic, racist joke out of a tragic shooting. She is also the victim of her editorial staff who threw her under the bus after the crap hit the fans, because even though they approved the strip and probably even laughed at it, they weren’t about to take the hit for her. This isn’t about the liberal media. This about people being less and less tolerant of other people being jerks, especially in the wake of such horrific events.

Sorry, guys. You don’t live in an era where you can get away with demonizing minorities and casually using words like “colored” without being called an a**hole by the general populace.

#12 Mike Lester
March/30/2012
@ 10:35 am

LaBan: At first, I had no idea why you would construe my comment as favorable to anybody. Maybe I’m not being clear: Spike and Roseanne are ordering lynch mobs like you order a pizza. Al, Jesse and the media are doing Nancy Grace impressions, summations unnecessarily endangering community. But the REAL players are NewBlackPantherParty (“my people” AttnyGen.Holder) who have issued a bounty on a citizen not charged w/ a crime. Maybe he should be charged but like everybody not in law enforcement, I don’t know.

As this relates to the cartoon, I stand by my earlier stmt: she’s not a professional cartoonist, made an accusation of the MSMedia, got canned when her superiors kept their job (???) and finally, argued ANYbody w/ a h.s. education was familiar w/ the term, “yellow journalism”.

They DO, however know that Nancy Grace was on Dancing With the Stars and not much else.

#13 Terry LaBan
March/30/2012
@ 4:25 pm

Spike and Roseanne are ordering lynch mobs? Really, Mike? Pretty scary–we all know the angry hordes Roseanne can conjure up with a mere word. But the only guy who appears to have been actually lynched is the kid. As for the New Black Panther party, that’s what? 10 misfits in a basement with a laptop? If they’re the “real players” then both you and Mr. Zimmerman should relax–aside from a lot of big talk and a couple incidences of disorderly conduct, they’ve never actually done anything to anybody. But I understand that right wingers will always strive to find someone on the “left”(not my definition of the NBPs, but probably yours), no matter how obscure, who they can point to to show that their opponents are just as bad as they are.
The point is that this guy was let go because the Florida legislature has given carte blanche to anyone who wants to wander around shooting people whose looks they find threatening. Thanks to the right-wing gun lobby, Florida and states like it no longer need lynch mobs–everyone can be their own. But I guess that’s the price we pay for freedom. Though I do agree that the cartoonist’s editors should’ve been canned as well–not for the opinons expressed but because they ran multiple works by someone so unbelievably bad. And I don’t mean that in the ’70s sense.
Yeah, I meant “Juhl”, not “Jule”.

#14 Mark Juhl
March/30/2012
@ 6:29 pm

Terry, the only facts known for sure about the case are Zimmerman called the police, didn’t follow what they told him to do and followed Martin anyway. Zimmerman then ended up shooting Martin. That’s it. What happened between the time he hung up on the cops and the time he shot is based on Zimmerman’s statements and those of witnesses.
If you have proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zimmerman shot Martin in cold blood then you should be down there giving testamony. If you can’t give that testamony then your outright conviction of Zimmerman is based on nothing but the ethnicity of Martin. On race.

As for racism, Zimmerman is Hispanic, excuse me, they decided to hang the term “White Hispanic” on him. Gee, nothing racial about that huh?

The difference between me and you is I’m not willing too convict someone based only on the color of the victim’s skin.

#15 Dave Stephens
March/30/2012
@ 7:07 pm

Roseanne DID “order a lynch mob”. She tweeted the friggin’ ADDRESS OF ZIMMERMAN’S PARENTS!

Heinous behavior, something any evil totalitarian government would do, something a fascist would gladly do…

#16 Mike Lester
March/31/2012
@ 9:05 am

Out of respect for Rex, I will decline further comment.

#17 Donald Rex Jr
March/31/2012
@ 11:27 pm

I see Ms Eisner’s cartoons as insightful and well drawn. Charges of racism are more about the reader than the cartoonist. The editors are cowardly by their actions, and incompetent if the cartoon in question slipped by their notice.

I am amused that Terry Laban would call any cartoonist’s work less than decent with such stellar work as ‘Cud’ to his ‘credit. Ms Eisner’s work stands head and shoulders above his in my considered opinion. At least her style and wit can be seen to be her own, rather that sadly derivitive of others.

This whole issue is completely separate from the facts of this sad event, and to confuse Ms Eisners honest work and brave cartoon with anything else; the facts of the case, other media coverage or misquided celebrity tweets misses the issue, That I see as freedom of expression.

The Daily Texan has a long and storied history of cartoonists with no fear of speaking truth to power. This dismissal of a talented cartoonist for honest work that should be DEFENDED is a shame. And to think that I saw it in Austin.

Weird.

#18 Mike Peterson
April/1/2012
@ 3:05 am

About half an hour early on the April Fools there, Donald.

#19 Donald Rex Jr
April/1/2012
@ 1:06 pm

I know the time, although I see cause to wonder about some of the owners of many opinions expressed above.

Tell me there Mike, do your cartoons express your opinions or your observations? Are one more valid than the other? Or are neither worth defending?

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