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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cartoon Controversy

    Ah, journalism-the ability to write and publish anything in the name of “”freedom of speech.”” As an evil journalist, I’ll stick by that freedom until I run out of breath. But I have zero tolerance for the abuse of that right. When did freedom of speech become an excuse to be asinine? I don’t believe that anything is black or white and with everything there is a matter of judgment both journalistically and ethically in anything that is published. Ethically, the cartoon simply shouldn’t have been published. And in terms of protecting that gem we call freedom of speech, this kind of spectacle is abusive to what that freedom stands for and it ultimately discredits the Wildcat as a whole. Freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are vital in this country. Abusing them only narrows these rights. And quite frankly, that’s scarier than any cartoon published. This is a great student newspaper, where we should be able to raise important, controversial issues, not make ludicrous assumptions or judgments in the name of entertainment or even freedom of speech.

    Chelsea Jo Simpson is a journalism junior.

    Upon first glance at Joseph Topmiller’s cartoon, I imagined an underpaid server who has had a crappy day, praying for a scapegoat to come along and shoulder the blame. On a larger scale, such was the provenance of Hitler’s rise and the resentment toward each new wave of immigrants on our own land. It is common for humans to do this to one another. Nevertheless, the cartoon was a tasteless and low-brow jibe that probably should not have been printed. But it was, and we cannot erase that.

    I like to think that some good can come out of this seeming disaster. Instead of cartoon riots on par with those emanating from a Danish newspaper’s depiction of the prophet Mohammed two years ago, I propose a constructive, campus-wide dialogue on the issue of race and comedy.

    Stereotypes are so prevalent in comedy routines because they can be hilarious. Chris Rock has a great skit on black people and their love affair with fried chicken. And we all know of Jeff Foxworthy’s “”redneck”” gag. But wait, Carlos Mencia has made a living out of making fun of Mexicans, and he’s from El Salvador! How close to a culture do you have to be to access its practices for comedic purposes? When is the line crossed? And, finally, if Topmiller’s last name were more “”Jewish-sounding,”” would there have been such uproar? I exhort you to discuss these issues with aplomb and respect. Otherwise, Mr. Topmiller has won.

    Eric Reichenbacher is a senior majoring in economics and international studies.

    This is by no means the first time No Relation has flirted with hate-filled humor. Topmiller’s comics poke fun against blacks, homosexuals, the disabled and Greek Life with disturbing frequency. Almost no social demographic has escaped the artist’s abrasive and disrespectful ridicule. However, when the comic was removed several weeks ago because of perpetual offense, the resulting dozens of letters protesting the editorial censorship resulted in the comic’s return. “”No Relation”” clearly has one of the strongest fan bases of any Wildcat comic. This popularity says more about the readership than the creator. Fans who wrote in protesting the removal of “”No Relation”” several weeks ago should now step forward and voice their opinions. A tasteless anti-Semitic joke is just as offensive to me as the jabs at the elderly and less fortunate. However, the comic should not be removed unless the fans who like the comic believe Topmiller has undeniably crossed the line of no return.

    Matt Rolland is a junior majoring in economics and international studies.

    I agree, for the most part, with the responses to Joseph Topmiller’s cartoon, an ill-advised and indefensible exercise in pseudo-ironic racism. The frenzied responses to the cartoon, however, are interesting because of what they say about the rest of us.

    Race is the single most volatile subject in American culture, and racism the most dreaded of insults. There’s a reason for that: In the last 50 years, we’ve gone from being an openly racist society to a closeted racist society. We’ve expunged our language of every offending word, from “”articulate”” to “”niggardly.”” Every lifestyle save that of the bigot is now in vogue.

    And yet we haven’t gotten rid of racism at all. It claws at us from within. It riddles our society like the holes in swiss cheese. It’s the nastiest sort of hatred because it hates for reasons that are essentially petty and meaningless. Yet it’s the hardest sort of hatred to expunge from our systems, because for some reason it comes naturally to us.

    And it’s this very sort of hatred that we’ve set out to erase from human society. So when we see a cartoon like Topmiller’s, we’re outraged before we even understand the joke. And it fills us with despair: no matter how much we pretend, how much we drill our children in the twin arts of “”tolerance”” and “”diversity,”” we can’t get rid of it. The joke’s on us.

    Justyn Dillingham is a senior majoring in history and political science and the wire editor for the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

    Topmiller’s comic was notable primarily because of the inordinately large brain fart it represented. One wonders what kind of backward logic he must have used to justify drawing something that would inflame so many people. But his detractors aren’t in the right, either. Discrimination begins and ends not only where we decide to pass judgment on others solely because of their religious or ethnic heritage but also where we decide to lump ourselves into groups for easy classification.

    It is a well-accepted fact that all Jews are not cheap, money-grubbing Scrooges. This is an obvious truth. But responding to a stereotype with vitriol and anger serves only to validate the stereotype, forging weapons for future bigots to use. And let’s face it-when was the last time censorship and uproar really silenced bigots? Either Topmiller is as foolish as his comic indicated, in which case berating him will only serve to justify his belief in the evil, baby-killing Zionist conspiracy, or he’s not, in which case he has learned his lesson. Neither crimes of hatred nor crimes of stupidity warrant this kind of reaction.

    Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy, and physics.

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