Over at the University of Virginia, there is a religious cartoon controversy brewing. Two comics ran on the 23rd and 24th of August – the first depicting the Crucifixion with a parabolic graph superimposed over Christ and the second features dialog between Mary and Joseph about an immaculately transmitted rash.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and people from all over the U.S. have written almost 2,000 letters in protest, but the student paper’s editor has decided not to issue an apology – citing that no policies were broken.
Cavalier Daily editor-in-chief Michael Slaven said a journalistic apology differs from a personal apology in that the paper will not apologize simply because someone takes offense to something that was published.
“We cannot apologize for something that did not violate any policies that we have,” Slaven said.
In an April 24 lead editorial, The Cavalier Daily unveiled a new policy stating how comics and columns are to be evaluated for censorship on the basis of three criteria. First, editors determine whether a verifiable historical or contemporary situation is truthfully depicted. If this standard is not met, two other criteria are evaluated: whether the author makes a “serious, intentional point, the censoring of which would constitute viewpoint discrimination” and whether the author criticizes a group “for any reason other than their own opinions or actions.”
According to the editorial, “this policy seeks to limit material that criticizes people for traits or situations they cannot change.”
That last part is important to the story because last year the paper did issue an apology for a cartoon that ran that was anti-homosexual.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue stated on the League’s Web site that when the queer community was offended, The Cavalier Daily apologized, “yet when it comes to Christians, not even a shallow apology can be mustered.”
“So it can be implied that the Mother of Jesus has a sexually transmitted disease–and that’s okay with the editors–but making flip comments about homosexuals is unacceptable,” Donohue stated.
The student newspaper is independently published and the university is staying out of the fire.
You can see the comics in the archive. Here’s the crucifix cartoon (6th comic down from top) and here’s the STD one (sixth from the bottom).Â While looking for these, the one above the STD cartoon was pretty offensive as well.