Daily Texan Pulls, Then Re-Posts Trayvon Martin Cartoon

The Daily Texan briefly removed an editorial cartoon about the Trayvon Martin case from its website yesterday afternoon.  The University of Texas student newspaper then re-posted it, with an editorial statement acknowledging “the sensitive nature of the cartoon’s subject matter.”  It also appeared in yesterday’s Daily Texan print edition.

The cartoon depicts a mother reading a book to her daughter about media coverage of the Martin shooting.  The mother says to the wide-eyed daughter, “And then, the BIG BAD WHITE man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy.”  The cartoon’s overt argument: Sensational, biased journalism has morphed Martin’s death into a racial flashpoint in which the minority victim is being unduly sainted and the shooter unfairly vilified.

Critics are calling the cartoon tasteless and “vaguely racist”– referencing the “colored boy” description, the white skin-tone of the characters featured, and the misspelling of Martin’s first name.  On Gawker, the headline of a post that broke the news about the cartoon’s temporary removal stated sarcastically, “University of Texas Student Paper Wins ‘Most Racist Trayvon Martin Cartoon’ Contest.”

The full statement from the Daily Texan editorial board: “A controversial editorial cartoon on the Trayvon Martin shooting was published Tuesday on the Opinion page of The Daily Texan.  The Daily Texan Editorial Board recognizes the sensitive nature of the cartoon’s subject matter.  The views expressed in the cartoon are not those of the editorial board.  They are those of the artist.  It is the policy of the editorial board to publish the views of our columnists and cartoonists, even if we disagree with them.”

In response, one commenter counters: “Your statement is insufficient.  As a writer and editor, I disagree with your view of an editor’s or editorial board’s role in forming its publication.  You curate the voice of your publication; it is your responsibility to draw difficult lines between what is acceptable, what is controversial, and what is tasteless.”

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