Notre Dame Observer Faces Outrage Over ‘Anti-Gay’ Comic

The editorial board of The Notre Dame Observer has profusely apologized and the paper’s assistant managing editor has stepped down after the recent publication of a “cruel and hateful” comic strip. A staff editorial calls the incident a “low point in [the paper's] almost 50-year history.”

Both versions of the strip considered by editors, including the original rejected submission (second from the top). Beneath the strips is a gmail chat between one of the comic creators and an Observer staffer.

An image of the offensive comic strip, titled "Mobile Party," as it appeared in print in a recent Observer edition.

According to an Irish Central report (and as the images above confirm), “The cartoon depicts a conversation between two figures that reads: ‘What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?’ ‘No idea.’ ‘A baseball bat.’ Earlier, the cartoonist . . . posted the original version of the cartoon on his blog. In this version, it shows  the punch line as ‘AIDS’ instead of ‘a baseball bat.’ The paper, he claimed, preferred ‘not to make light of fatal diseases.'”

Among the criticisms emanating from faculty and students at Notre Dame and its sister school St. Mary’s, here is part of a statement from student representatives of St. Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance (Notre Dame does not officially recognize a GSA-related group on its campus): “You may not like it but Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is a home to lesbian, gay and bisexual students. Your call as both a Christian and as a human being is to respect them. Making light of the very real threat of homophobic motivated hate crimes is a poor excuse for humor and a despicable action. I completely support and defend a person’s freedom of belief, expression and speech. However, when expressing that belief takes the form of language which encourages violence against a group of people, you have crossed a professional and ethical line.”

Similarly, in a piece touching on the comic’s status as a symbol of a larger discriminatory and ignorant mindset at the school, a Notre Dame sociology professor writes, “This [the comic controversy] is no isolated incident on our campus. . . . Getting a cheap laugh at the expense of the abused, bashed, disabled and even murdered not only belittles these horrific experiences but encourages more violence.”

The comic creators, a trio of Notre Dame seniors, have apologized for its insensitivity, claiming they were attempting to mock the homophobia they observe on campus, not add to it. “Intolerance of homosexuality is a major problem on Notre Dame’s campus,” they wrote in a letter published in the Observer. “We tried to address it in our comics— using the tool characters to emphasize a mindset that we simply find ridiculous. In our last comic, we had the human character, our voice of reason, not understand the joke because of its absurd nature. . . . We consistently try to write comics that rely on shock value and now that we have gone too far, we realize that we have abused the privilege and responsibility of contributing to the Observer.”

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4 Responses to “Notre Dame Observer Faces Outrage Over ‘Anti-Gay’ Comic”
  1. Currently traveling between Miami and Florida, reading this on my Iphone. Will read it in full when I get back, and I will also post a backlink on my website. Thanks.

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