Thursday, October 18, 2012

Arizona Daily Wildcat Publishes Really, Really Dumb Comic

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Yesterday, the Arizona Daily Wildcat ran a comic that was, well ... let's just call it dumb.

I don't feel like republishing it here because looking at it makes my head hurt, but there's a link to it here, for those interested in seeing it.

The problem with the comic is two-fold. For one, it's homophobic, in a way. For another, it's simply not funny. It's like taking a photo of a car-wreck and stapling it to the end of a "Garfield" comic.

People were offended; letters were written, petitions have been circulated—and in response, the Wildcat issued a statement of apology on its website:

The Arizona Daily Wildcat does screw up, and acknowledging its mistakes and oversights is critical to its accountability.

On Tuesday, the Wildcat staff made a serious error in judgment in printing a cartoon that some readers felt was homophobic and inappropriate.

The views of individual staff members do not represent the views of the Wildcat, nor does the Wildcat reflect the views of the UA. However, printing the cartoon was irresponsible to our readers. We apologize.

— The Daily Wildcat staff

This was followed shortly by an apology from the strip's creator, D.C. Parsons:

My name is D.C. Parsons, and I would like to formally apologize to anyone who I may have offended in my comic “etc.” on Tuesday. The comic was not intended to offend. The desired end means of my work is solely humorous.

It was based on an experience from my childhood. My father is a devout conservative from a previous generation, and I believe he was simply distraught from the fact that I had learned (from “The Simpsons”) what homosexuality was at such a young age.

I have always used humor as a coping mechanism, much like society does when addressing social taboos. I do not condone these things; I simply don’t ignore them. I do sincerely apologize and sympathize with anyone who may be offended by my comics (I am often similarly offended by “Ralph and Chuck”), but keep in mind it is only a joke, and what’s worse than a joke is a society that selectively ignores its problems.

— D.C. Parsons,
“etc.” cartoonist for the Daily Wildcat

And, according to the Daily Wildcat, their association with Parsons has been terminated, as made clear in this letter from its editor-in-chief, Kristina Bui:

The Arizona Daily Wildcat is now reviewing its editorial policies and has terminated the employment of the cartoonist as of Wednesday. His views do not represent the views of the Wildcat staff, nor does the Wildcat represent the views of the university.

The “etc.” cartoon in question illustrated a parent threatening their child if he ever came out, and the two characters joke about the threat. We agree with the criticism we’ve met, and we apologize. The comic was not funny.

That, combined with the poorly-handled apology from Parsons, is the problem. The comic wasn't funny; it wasn't satirical; it wasn't clever; and it didn't make a reader really think about the issues behind homophobia and violence.

The Wildcat is in trouble for this — as they well should be. Publishing this comic was a poor decision. But that's part of the process of running a student newspaper: Mistakes are bound to happen, and this is where one learns both the consequences of a poor editorial decision, as well as the proper way to respond to the resulting controversy.

Good luck to Parsons (who I hope has learned that, if you're going to put a joke into an apology, you'd best make damn well sure that it's funny), as well to Bui and the rest of her staff at the Wildcat.

You folks are going to need it.

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