Update: The Observer‘s promised apology is posted in their staff editorial Responsibility for offensive comic.

~~Autumn~~


Does hate roll downhill? I think it’s a fair question.

The Pope has a way of saying things that are offensive to many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, with his latest utterance being that gays are an ‘attack on creation’, as well as his December, 2008 statement that the world needs to be protected against gays and transsexuals.

So would it be any wonder if a United States university that has historic ties to the Catholic Church had a student newspaper that expresses antigay/anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) commentary? And, that ramps up the antigay/anti-LGBT expression by it up a notch or seven-hundred-elevendy-billion? A cartoon published in the Notre Dame University student newspaper The Observer with text provided by the post GLAAD Demands Apology and Retraction of Dangerous Anti-Gay Cartoon at the glaadBLOG:

Image: Notre Dame University Student Newspaper The Observer's Antigay Comic

Panel 1: “What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”

Panel 2: “No idea.”

Panel 3: “A baseball bat.”

According to Adam at the glaadBLOG (emphasis added):

As many people know, “fruit” is often used as a derogatory term for members of the LGBT community.

This type of advocacy of anti-LGBT violence must stop. It isn’t funny. What’s more, it promotes hate crimes, which are all too prevalent in society today.

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.

Today (Friday, January 15, 2009), The Observer is expected to issue a “full retraction and apology.”

GLAAD contacted The Observer immediately upon seeing this cartoon. 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.

Metz plans to run what she describes as a “full retraction and apology,” in Friday’s edition of The Observer. GLAAD will watch for that retraction and apology. Additionally, GLAAD asked Metz to ensure that the staff responsible for running this cartoon — both the cartoonist and editor who decided it was fit for print — be reprimanded.

GLAAD has also asked the President of Notre Dame University that his office issue a statement condemning violence, as well as condemning this cartoon that promotes violence against LGBT people.

It matters what the Pope says about LGBT people; it matters what the President of Notre Dame University about antigay hate violence and this antigay cartoon; it matters that the student newspaper at Notre Dame University published a comic that used a antigay pejorative to made light of violence to gay people — as an alternative to use an antigay pejorative to make light of the deaths of LGBT people who pass away from HIV/AIDS.

LGBT people are human. This is an opportunity for Notre Dame University to, on many levels, publicly acknowledge the humanity of all peoples — including LGBT people.

But, did hate roll downhill? We’ll probably never really know the answer to that question. However, I’d argue that anti-LGBT sentiments have been expressed publicly by the Pope and the student newspaper at a historically Catholic university: What I’m sure of is that the Pope’s comments about LGBT people certainly aren’t driving away any anti-LGBT sentiments in the ranks of the Notre Dame University student population.