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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mailbag

    President Shelton responds to comic uproar

    On Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, the world witnessed an historic event, considered stunning by millions of Americans, no matter their ethnicity, political preference or principles, with the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States of America.

    Sadly, we arrived on campus the following day only to see that the Arizona Daily Wildcat, our student-run campus newspaper, had published a comic strip that many felt was offensive in its use of a racial epithet. Many of our Campus Community – faculty, staff and students and friends – are rightfully shocked, saddened, outraged and disappointed by the message this cartoon sent.

    In reading today’s explanation from the Wildcat, I understand that the comic strip was never intended to be run. According to the faculty adviser, there was an unfortunate miscommunication and that Wildcat staff is meeting to explore how those miscommunications occurred and what they can do in the future to avoid such missteps.

    As I have written before, “”freedom of speech is valued as it must and should be. However, with that (Constitutional) right comes great responsibility. … Why is this important? We expect all of our students to conduct themselves as scholars of The University of Arizona. You do not check your status as a UA student at the door when you leave campus. At all times, you are representing The University of Arizona.””

    We pride ourselves on the diverse population that makes up The University of Arizona. We want all of our students to feel this is their university and that everyone who comes here is welcome. Events like this do not convey that image. I am pleased, however, by all of the letters to the editor clearly demonstrating that our community does not support racial or ethnic slurs and their disappointment that this appeared in their campus newspaper.

    As we move forward, while preserving our First Amendment right to free speech and our ability to share opinions, explore and collaborate with each other on issues that face our world, I would encourage everyone in our Campus Community to consider every time we are faced with a decision to act, speak or write our opinions to also act responsibly and consider the positive and/or negative impact of our words.

    Robert N. Shelton
    UA president

    Comic ‘backwards-looking’

    On Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008; history was made. A nation voted to elect its first black president in her history, with that individual being the first Democrat to acquire a majority since former President Carter’s election in 1976. What was shown as a result of this was that the United States had finally come to a new chapter in her history, and our nation was finally able to tell anyone of any race that the dream was finally realized. Agree with his policies or otherwise, President-elect Barack Obama helped prove that Martin Luther King’s dream had been realized. What should have been a day of reflection and celebration of this notion was unfortunately shattered and besmirched by a disgusting comic in the Arizona Daily Wildcat. This comic, containing two overtly racist words regarding Mr. Obama, is both backwards-looking and a blatant slap at members of our diverse university community. I cannot fathom, and will not come to comprehend, the decision that was made by the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s staff concerning the running of this strip. It is hoped that the Editor in Chief and members of the Arizona Daily Wildcat staff take a long hard look at what was published for supposed comedic relief. The judgment and credibility of the newspaper itself will be closely scrutinized depending upon further actions. I demand that the Arizona Daily Wildcat issue an apology due to this offensive comic and hope that better judgment is exercised next time a comic strip such as this comes across the desk.

    Stephen W. Bieda, III

    Graduate & Professional Student Council president atmospheric sciences graduate student

    Timing, not content, the main issue

    Around 4:30 yesterday afternoon (Nov. 5), I received a text message regarding an offensive comic in the Daily Wildcat and an impromptu discussion to be held about it in the MLK Center. I found a copy of the comic and was a little surprised by the uproar. I viewed the comic as a satirical commentary on the state of race relations in the U.S., but then I realized the impact of such a comic running the day after the election. My problem was, and still is, that running it on such an inappropriate day served primarily to belittle the achievement of President-elect Barack Obama. Lauren LePage has admitted that the timing was an unfortunate mistake; my question to LePage is: why do these “”mistakes”” keep happening? (See “”Offensive Cartoon was a Mistake,”” Oct. 15, 2007) This is not the first comic printed in the Wildcat that has offended and hurt members of our student population. Each time this happens, the Mailbag is flooded with letters, an apology is issued and yet it happens again. This cycle is not acceptable. In reference to the discussion at the MLK Center, many people were upset. While I do not use this to justify the behavior of some attendees (who were quieted by other participants, though the article “”Wildcat Cartoon Causes Campus Uproar”” does not mention this), it is a valid explanation for it. I am also amused that the Wildcat editors contend they were unaware of the discussion (which was not a “”rally””) when they were able to send three staff members to photograph and write an article. However, LePage is correct: A candid discussion is necessary and I hope the Wildcat editorial staff will hold a town hall meeting open to all students to discuss the continued instances of cultural and racial insensitivity.

    Tana Feliz Encinias y Garcia
    political science junior

    Nothing solved by forum hostilities

    I attended the discussion forum yesterday (Thursday, Nov. 6) regarding the controversial Daily Wildcat cartoon that was published Wednesday. I had high hopes that there would be a very civil and adult-like discussion about how exactly the comic was placed in the Wildcat, why it was even placed and what steps would be taken to prevent things of this nature (from happening) again. The meeting began by listing expectations the audience had for the Editor in Chief Lauren LePage, who was asked to explain the Wildcat’s stance on the subject, as well as answer any and all questions the audience had, as well as those we had for ourselves. Respect for the editor was one of the biggest expectations that was explained to the audience. As the editor walked in, the tension in the room rose like no other. Of course, we had all hoped that we would maintain our respect for the editor in chief. Questions began pouring in, but not the way that was originally hoped. Anger and frustration took hold of everyone in response to the editor’s unclear answers. In my personal opinion, people began simply attacking LePage to get answers out of her. Also, individuals became hostile, some even storming out of the room. I had questions that I wanted to ask, but a certain sector of the audience took control of the meeting by interrupting the ongoing discussion. After a while, I began to feel ashamed to even ask my question, not knowing if the editor would wholeheartedly listen. This continued until moderators attempted to control the discussion.

    The discussion never really took any life. Nothing was solved, and it seemed as if the audience only wanted to know who was to blame. Placing blame on someone is great and all, but it doesn’t solve anything. I feel like I wasted nearly two hours of my life. I felt completely ashamed to be a minority in the room, and completely embarrassed to have sat in the audience.

    Simone Gardunio
    junior majoring in psychology and photography

    Calm needed before communication

    I thank Lauren LePage, the editor in chief of the Wildcat, so much for being as curious as she was to come to the meeting and answer questions about the very controversial comic published in the Wildcat. I am very sorry at how some people reacted to her answers to their questions. I feel like they were totally out of line in how they were treating her.

    That said, I also believe that the printing of the comic is still a big problem. As can be seen from people’s reactions, where they were debating with and getting very upset at LePage, this is something that hurt many students. I feel like LePage apologized and doesn’t have to apologize anymore, but I do think that there needs to be steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The only way to be able to fix this is to work together, LePage and the African-American community. To do that, everyone in B.L.A.C.K. needs to be able to be calm and polite to anyone from the Wildcat. All the wanting to change the world will go nowhere if everyone can’t control their emotions. And when everyone can, then there should be meetings like the one (Thursday) night, because this is a big problem and it needs to be addressed and fixed.

    In the wise words of Barack Obama, our first African-American president: “”Let us recognize what unites us across borders and build on the strength of this blessed country. Let us embrace our history and our legacy.””

    Julian Seidel
    Engineering sophomore

    More positive comics needed

    I believe in free speech, but I also believe that the campus should be inclusive and respectful to people of all backgrounds. I think something can be funny without being offensive, and more positive comics should be shown in the future. Thank you.

    Briana Rutledge
    veterinary science sophomore

    Not the first cartoon slip-up for the Wildcat

    I saw and heard about the comic publication with the use of the “”N-word.”” As a student, I feel that this is very inappropriate to print in a university newspaper. Such words can be used to educate the negative associations.

    However, when presented like it was in the Wildcat it comes off as offensive, has negative connotations, distasteful and culturally insensitive, especially after the recent election.

    This is not the first time that such negative expressions have been presented in the Wildcat. There have been stereotyping in past editions toward different groups. I only hope that such expressions be edited out because it does offend and cause harm to groups that are stereotyped/labeled.

    Donovan Williams
    second-year medical student

    Editor in Chief should approve all Wildcat content

    This comic sparked quite a bit of unrest.

    I understand that this comic was intended to poke fun at the ignorance of voters, but this then reflects negative stereotypes about Caucasian voters.

    Additionally, many readers do not read comics in such detail and reflect on the deeper meaning. They may simply glance at the comic, notice the use of the word and if they hold similar views, they may use this comic as justification when referring to our president-elect as just some “”N-word.”” We need to lead by example and inform individuals at the university and the community about the power of certain words.

    Several students of many racial and ethnic backgrounds agreed that this was very careless to allow offensive content in the Daily Wildcat. In your response to the running of the cartoon, you stated that another cartoon was intended to be run. As Editor in Chief, your staff should not be able to override your authority by running content that has not been approved. Does this mean that your staff has potentially run other content with disregard to your instructions? Perhaps you need to restate your position to your staff, because this reflects very badly on the Daily Wildcat.

    Miriam Zmiewski

    Public Health Student Alliance executive chair

    public health graduate student

    Comic was ‘witty, ironic’

    The problem is people see (the “”N-word””) and immediately think it’s racist without giving any thought whatsoever to the context the word is used in. Just like if the Wildcat prints this unedited, hopefully they do, there will be plenty of people up in arms. They see this word and latch onto it because they (have) been told by so many people for so long that it’s inherently bad, they have stopped thinking for themselves. If those of you who are calling this comic racist had actually taken the time to read the strip instead of focusing on a specific word, you might have realized it was positive in a way. This is an example of a reader completely missing the point of the comic, “”As you can notice from it, the ‘N-word’ was used. I do not think this is funny.”” Well, it’s not meant to be funny, it’s meant to be ironic. I find it interesting that the focus is on the simple use of a word, instead of the fact that the people in the strip were voting for Obama. It’s strange to me that overall that’s somehow bad. It just goes to show that many people, specifically those complaining about the “”insensitivity”” of the comic care more about speech codes and the use of a simple word than the action of voting a black man as president. Am I the only one who thinks that’s backwards? And those of you saying this comic is unacceptable to display “”free speech can’t excuse comic strip””: you have to be kidding me. Is your policy to be politically correct at all costs and bury your head in the sand about controversial issues? This comic was witty, ironic, apt to the current social and political situation and more than that, it was a true event that points out the idiosyncrasies of our culture. Why is it that this comic was seen as hurtful? If you look at the message of the comic, it’s generally positive. The couple is voting for Obama – should that not be more positive than any of the other messages one could take? For those of you crusading against the use of a word, I suggest you look at the entirety of the situation before making judgments on what’s racist and what’s not. Words are just that – words. They lack meaning unless you give them some. Just because a word is used doesn’t mean you should ignore the context in which it is used.

    David Knapp

    engineering senior

    Detractors taking wrong message

    from comic

    “”The K Chronicles”” comic that ran on Wednesday has stirred up a lot of comments, mainly negative, toward the editor of the paper for allowing the comic to run. The thing is, people are taking the wrong message away from the comic. It is not supposed to encourage racism nor is its message that racism is okay. The real message of the comic is twofold. First, that racism is still alive and well today in America no matter what we would like to believe. Secondly, that there are bigger issues at stake in this past election, issues so strong that even racist voters would still vote for Barack Obama. The comic is not racist; it is merely providing a window into the portion of America that refuses to give up old, detrimental ideas. The outrage that this comic has caused is misdirected. Instead of being livid that a comic such as this should be printed in our campus newspaper, we should be angry that racism still exists in our country at all. Yet, it seems as if ASUA Senate and a disturbingly large number of people on campus are willing to stick their fingers in their ears, their heads in the sand and pretend that racism doesn’t exist. Or perhaps the real reason they wish the Wildcat to face retribution is for printing a politically incorrect word, a word that still gets used around the country but no self-respecting person is allowed to say, even if they are relaying it from others’ mouths as an example of racism. Please do not mistake me: I am not saying that the “”N-word”” is not racist or that it is anywhere near an OK thing to call someone. However, people should evaluate the context in which it is used before deciding who to get angry at, instead of having a knee jerk reaction. Oh, and for the record, I laughed.

    Tiffany Shucart

    engineering physics junior

    Wildcat should consider audience

    before printing offensive material

    I viewed the comic Wednesday and was thoroughly disgusted with its publishing. Coming from a mixed family of several ethnicities, not even primarily African-American, I was offended. I believe that whoever published this comic, that uses derogatory terms multiple times, should be severely punished. They should be expelled from the paper’s staff and the university. I believe it is unacceptable to (publish) something of this matter where it can fall into the hands of even younger adults than those at the U of A. We should not be teaching or (publishing) anything to anybody (about) these types of things. What does this show to the parents of the students at this school? It shows that this campus is not open to different cultures, races and social statures that literally do make up the school’s population. Instead, it shows the belief in stereotypes, racism and that the university is comprised of close-minded people. This is America, comprised of different people, from different ethnic backgrounds. This country just elected an African-American man and people need to get over it. Not only because we ourselves elected him, but it also shows the progress our country has made from the days of Martin Luther King Jr. We should be proud of this accomplishment and not slander it.

    Samantha Strodel

    pre-communication freshman

    Free speech, verisimilitude

    protect offensive cartoon

    In (Thursday’s) edition of the Wildcat, I was amazed to see the reactions against the cartoon run on Wednesday. I’ll try to limit my thoughts to four points:

    1) The cartoon was not necessarily offensive. I took it as portraying how Obama’s message had clearly and postively impacted even the uneducated and small-town voters of our country, and I even found it a little humorous in an ironic way. A person using the “”N-word”” is voting for a black candidate – but doesn’t that say great things for Obama and his message? (My grandpa still uses the term “”colored”” simply because he doesn’t know better, and I took the people in the cartoon to just not know better when using the “”N-word.””)

    2) Since when does a newspaper printing something offensive mean that the paper needs to apologize? A paper doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) agree with every single idea contained in it – especially syndicated material and/or advertisements. In every issue of the Wildcat, I see advertisements for strip clubs, but I don’t assume that the Wildcat is encouraging students to view women as nothing more than sexual objects. It’s the paper’s decision, not public opinion or reader outrage or government censoring of hate speech, that determines what’s in a newspaper.

    3) Even if the cartoon was intended by the author to offend others (which it was not, as he explained) and it was universally offensive to everyone, why did the Founding Fathers of our country include free speech as a fundamental right? Was it to protect speech that everyone agreed with? Or was it to protect speech that offends? Wasn’t it to protect open discussion of ideas and viewpoints so that people could rely on dialogue, rational thinking and appeals to truth to change people’s opinions? I believe the author tried to explain that he was just trying to bring up the issues for discussion.

    4) I hear the “”N-word”” all the time in television shows and movies, and it is never used in a way that encourages slavery or even encourages looking down on blacks. I would suggest that if anyone felt like enslaving black people or spitting on black people or making inappropriate comments toward minorities as a result of the cartoon, they should see a psychologist as they may need some professional help.

    Feel free to print all of this, none of this or any portion whatsoever. I would also love to know where I am incorrect in my thinking, if you would care to share.

    Michael A. Schaffner

    systems engineering freshman

    Wildat should have printed comic

    on purpose, not by mistake

    The events of the (Wednesday) newspaper controversy made me sad to discover on (Thursday) the depth of the accident that the Daily Wildcat perpetuated. In particular, I am ashamed to find that it was an accident and not a bold push by the Daily Wildcat staff in order to bring such issues to the forefront through what, effectively, is a clever editorial comic. So now, I find myself writing this letter as a statement to Keith Knight and the Daily Wildcat readers.

    I’ll make a first-level assumption that those readers that were greatly offended by the truncated use of this derogatory term are also completely offended by the use of the term in rap culture on a near-constant level. I will also assume that they are offended by the use of the term itself. I have not seen a single letter taking offense at the generalization of white American voters being labeled as racists even when voting for Obama. I certainly don’t take offense, as it is necessary to get the point across.

    What Knight does, and I applaud him for, is bring out the fact that President-elect Obama reached across even the still-existent racist divide. It is only natural that in order to fully point out the existence of such racism, that a term would need to be used. Without the use of a derogatory term, the point of the entire comic is lost. If offended (by) the use of a term, I ask for a look at who the audience is. The audience for the Daily Wildcat is students and alumni who should be capable of intelligent thought on such a subject.

    Instead of being immediately offended by the use of a word, I would have expected many of you to sit and think on the point of the comic. Instead, all I see is outrage at the usage of a word, as opposed to congratulations to Knight for his portrayal of a message.

    If the Daily Wildcat had printed this intentionally, I would be congratulating them as well – for their denial of censorship that has started to become so commonplace in the media. The real world isn’t perfectly nice and politically correct. I’m sure Knight is well aware of that fact when he brings the message of his comic to us. I hope that there is never a day when the papers of the country try to hide our people from every harsh word and every inconvienent truth. I hope, in the future, that such comics are bold pushes toward bringing issues to a forefront, as opposed to accidents.

    Antonio Villarreal

    junior majoring in astronomy and physics

    ‘Close-minded’ to pay attention

    to words, not issues

    I am somewhat appalled by the close-mindedness demonstrated by Wednesday’s cartoon. Not on the part of the author or editor, but by its widespread response. It may be almost exclusively inappropriate to publish some words, but it is far more close-minded to be outraged over the simple presence of a word without even considering what is being said. I come from the Midwest, and after the Democratic primaries, I heard my grandmother say how disappointed she was, that even today people are so sexist that they will vote for a black man over a woman. She ultimately ended up casting a vote for Obama. Racism is alive and well in many parts of this country, in opinion, if not in policy or practice, and one of the amazing things about race and this election is that many people raised as racists, such as my grandparents, voted for Obama in spite of their bias, rather than voting for him because they had abandoned their bias. This may say a lot about Obama’s campaign, but not so much about certain aspects of hope and change. There are a few people among us, however, who do not have that racist grandparent or two that ended up voting for Obama, and those are the people that needed to see this cartoon. It really is shameful that all anyone thought is “”Oh my god, is that most of the ‘N-word’?””

    Garrett Hardesty

    physics graduate student

    Wildcat ‘blew it’ with coverage

    of presidential election

    Congratulations! Wednesday’s issue has most certainly earned you the distinction of being the only newspaper in the entire United States that missed the entire point to last night’s election.

    A black man was elected into the White House, as our president of the United States of America, for the first time ever and you guys didn’t even do so much as to run a single picture of that man. On the front page was an Associated Press story with a dateline from Chicago and a picture from Tucson.

    You can’t be serious. Two years ago, the Daily Wildcat was ranked as the second-best student newspaper in the country, behind only Yale. Today, it’s the laughing stock of the school, and thanks to the stunt you pulled with Wednesday’s paper, perhaps that laughter can be heard throughout the rest of the nation as well.

    You should be completely embarrassed and ashamed of yourself for the way you represented your school, state and country, But most of all, you embarrassed your profession. This was history, and you guys blew it.

    Jeanette Viga

    dance senior

    Letter comparing abortion to Nazism

    inappropriate

    The letter by Jonathan Rutherford in the Nov. 5 issue of the Daily Wildcat has prompted me to write concerning the pro-choice/pro-life dilemma (“”Pro-choice rhetoric akin to Nazis””). Though the position one holds when it comes to abortion is largely dependent on upbringing and religious and political views (precisely what makes it such a circuitous subject of debate), I am somewhat vindicated of my views after reading Rutherford’s blurb comparing pro-choicers to Nazis.

    A person much wiser than myself once said that, “”When a dialogue has reached the point of comparing any single group to the Nazis, that conversation should end.”” This is hard to disagree with; how can you compare anything, much less the complex nature of abortion, to the attempted eradication of an ethnic group? It’s not like pro-choicers are trying to eradicate all babies on the planet, and dominate the world using military might. Not only is this a false analogy, it is one that supports a terribly stereotypical and misinformed comparison. It is extraordinarily offensive to imply that anyone equates babies to parasites.

    I have never heard a pro-choice constituent say anything along the lines of “”Babies are draining the ‘mother’s precious resources'”” unless by “”precious resources,”” you mean, “”ability to live unencumbered by the ramifications of an unplanned pregnancy.”” Of which there are many.

    So do you hate women’s rights, or do you hate babies? I guess we all have to choose, lest we bear the label “”Nazi.”” Let’s be serious: This isn’t the Holocaust – stop trying to make it into one.

    Cameron Louie

    English freshman

    Columnist gives ‘conservative student body’ a voice

    In response to Laura Donovan’s article, “”Coming to terms with GOP’s likely defeat”” on Nov. 4, I must say thank you for your neutrality. This entire election season I have read the Arizona Daily Wildcat hoping for some chance that the paper would print out an article not totally biased for Barack Obama’s campaign. Yet I failed to find one.

    Yes, the newspaper was kind enough to deliver the campaign coverage via The Associated Press nearly every day, but the opinion section has been bare of any right-wing support; aside from the letters of readers responding to those biased opinions.

    I do not feel that the Daily Wildcat should have tried to print articles in the tank for McCain as they have been for Obama for balance, but up until Donovan’s long-awaited appeal to the conservative student body, the opinion section might as well have been printed in blue.

    Alex Klauss

    electrical engineering junior

    Arizona voters wrong to deprive others of their freedom

    The voters in Arizona deserve a great slap on the wrist, handed down from the Supreme Court. The passage of Propositions 102, and 8 in California, have made California and Arizona two states with constitutions that single out and strip rights from a certain group of people. Years ago the Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage and now once again, we will have witnessed discrimination overruled.

    Who do I blame for this? You, Arizona, whether or not you like the idea of gays getting married, this country (or state) should never again strip freedoms from a group.

    Michael Dugger

    pre-physiology junior

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