Crucifixion Cartoon in Miami University Student Newspaper Causes Controversy

An editorial cartoon in The Miami Student aiming to satirize elements of the Miami University Greek system has stirred some controversy for its depiction of the Crucifixion of Christ.

The Jesus-like character in the cartoon — appearing in an issue of the Miami Student late last week — is an MU undergrad labeled a “G.D.I.” or God-damn independent, an individual on a college campus not affiliated with a fraternity or sorority. Many subtle and overt symbols abound throughout the loaded image. All of them, according to the cartoon’s creator, are “intended as a critique of Miami’s Greek system, its prevalence in university governance and the university’s tolerance of and attitudes toward fraternities and sororities.”

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On spec, the message seems to be: Don’t expect to be treated very well by MU, in many areas, if you are not part of a Greek organization. For example, the university president is portrayed in the cartoon as Pontius Pilate, the judge who authorized the Biblical crucifixion, saying literally of this GDI’s plight, “I wash my hands of this.” In addition, the crucified student figure is shown to say words that echo some of the last words of Jesus on the cross: “Miami, Miami — why have you forsaken me?”

Miami Student editors have distanced themselves from the cartoon, stating in a tweet the day it was published: “Today’s cartoon reflects ARTIST’S opinion of Greek system by using religious allusion — is not religious critique — doesn’t reflect views of TMS.”

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The cartoonist Chris Curme, a former Miami Student editor now referring to himself as Editor on the Lam, separately wrote a piece explaining his aim with the illustration. In his words:

In no way is it meant as a critique of religion. Indeed, a deep knowledge of religion was required to create the allusion that facilitates the above critique. So, any malicious intent in my use of the Crucifixion scene is incorrectly perceived and distracts from the meaning of the piece. In fact, the individual on the cross is deliberately not Jesus, because that would make no sense. As the letters on the cross indicate, he is a G.D.I. Please, consider the piece for its social implications. While the religious allusion adds a sense of gravity to the piece and was chosen for that reason, the focus should not be on the image itself, but on the opinion it illustrates.”

The Oxford Review, a competing MU publication, is calling upon the Miami Student to apologize for publishing what it deems a “deeply offensive comic” — and remove it online and from around campus.

According to the Review:

“As students of this university from a variety of different religious backgrounds we are deeply saddened and offended that the editors of the Student thought it acceptable to publish this content. We ask that the publication, which often preaches understanding, be a little more understanding themselves. Especially considering the numerous students they offended provide the funding for Student through a portion of their tuition/fees. We understand that at this time the comic has been printed and run in their print edition with a circulation of 8,000 and distributed across the Internet through their website which boasts a viewership of 130,000. However, we hope that they will consider removing the comic from their website and collecting any uncirculated copies.”

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