Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's just one controversy after another...

Well, my old Alma Mater has done it. The University of Saskatchewan's student newspaper, The Sheaf is now up to its ass in alligators. Why? Did they publish those ol' Muhammad cartoons? No, no no. That's old news. They've done one better and published a wonderfully new offensive cartoon entitled "Capitalist Piglet". The cartoon depicts a pig getting a blow job from Jesus. You can view the cartoon on this person's blog.

So anyway, they published this cartoon in The Sheaf and surprise, surprise, people were offended. The president of the University, Peter MacKinnon, sent an e-mail to everyone in the university saying that the cartoon had little value other than to shock or offend, and suggested that The Sheaf owed an apology to everyone.

Several people have gone one further and demanded that the newspaper be dismantled, that everyone on the Sheaf staff should be made to resign, and then John Gormley parks his ass on CTV news and suggests that the Sheaf owes monetary damages to all of the poor Christians it offended. (My loathing for John Gormley and every idiotic sentence that has ever fallen out of his big mouth knows no bounds.)

Obviously, I don't agree with the people calling for the resignation/termination/suing of the Sheaf staff. I can't believe how stupid people are. FREEDOM OF SPEECH people FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Without the Freedom to offend, Freedom of speech doesn't exist. You know what? I really hate listening to a lot of things out in the world right now. As I've said before, I think John Gormley would be improved 100% with a big fat piece of duct tape over that mouth of his. BUT no matter how much I don't like what I'm hearing, I will defend to the death the right of people to say it. So everyone who was offended by that cartoon, please get a life. You absolutely have the right to write in to the Sheaf and say what a horrible cartoon it was. And Peter MacKinnon absolutely had a right to send that e-mail out to everyone (although I will disrespect him forever now for doing it, the old prude.) But you don't have the right to sue people for it, and you don't have the right to censor people.

However, having said that, let us not forget the context in which the cartoon was published. The Sheaf, not so long ago, published an article explaining why they were not going to publish the Muhammad cartoons. The Sheaf says that republication of the cartoons merely detracts "from the serious and necessary debate that needs to take place around a myriad of issues that this clash uncovers". Fine. But then why publish this cartoon so shortly afterward? A lot of people are calling The Sheaf staff hypocrites, by refusing to publish one set of cartoons offensive to Muslims, and then going ahead and publishing another cartoon offensive to some Christians (and let's admit it, "Capitalist Piglet" is way worse than any of those Muhammad cartoons).

Under fire from all sides, The Sheaf is now saying that the cartoon was not meant to be included and was an editorial oversight. Ummmmmmm... I'm not buying it. Even if they did decide not to publish it at the last minute, the fact that it "accidently" made it into the final cut suggests that they were at least seriously considering it.

Here's what I think happened: The Sheaf decided not to print the Muhammad cartoons. Sure, the reasons they cite have merit, but let's be honest: they were really afraid that if they published them, someone would burn down the Sheaf office, or they'd get their butts kicked by the University Administration. Judging from Peter MacKinnon's reaction to the Capitalist Piglet cartoon, they were probably right about that last one. But, after that, they were feeling a bit ashamed (and damn straight they should be... should've published the Muhammad cartoons you spineless twits) and so said, "Hey look at this cartoon. It's really offensive and gross, but it's about Christians, so we won't get into trouble, but we'll look real macho and controversial." Except that they did get into trouble. Hence the backtracking, profuse apologies, and claims of editorial incompetence.

Another reason that I believe the Sheaf really was just thinking about shock value when they published the cartoon is the absolute lack of context for it. I don't believe that the cartoon is just totally gross with no point. I think it has something to say about Christianity compromising some of their principles to pander to a capitalist society. However, most people can't get past the offensive image to even see the point. That is a poorly thought out cartoon, because what's the point if people don't get it? You should have the right to be offensive, but for goodness sake, use the power wisely.

So although I think the people who are raising such a stink about the cartoon definitely need to relax, I do agree that the Sheaf has conducted itself poorly. 1) You should have been honest about your reasons for not publishing the Muhammad cartoons; 2) The Capitalist Piglet cartoon, while it did contain some authentic social commentary, was published without context or frame of reference, and nobody got the point.

So was it really worth it? Do you feel all rebellious and defiant now?


1 comment:

Puddleglum said...

I think this horse has been beat...well past the time of death. Why don't you post again so I can comment?? Studying is sooooo boring.