Cartoon in Georgetown Student Newsmagazine Spurs Campus Rally, Charges of Racism

An editorial cartoon in The Georgetown Voice has angered some student readers at Georgetown University, triggering social media complaints, a campus-wide demonstration and a town hall meeting. The Voice’s top editor and the student cartoonist have both apologized and the image has been removed from the newsmagazine’s website.

The cartoon depicts the newly-elected student government leaders at Georgetown clobbering a pair of losing candidates — who are stuffed inside a horse costume — with bats labeled “Satire” and “Heckler.” The student leaders with the bats are also editors of a satirical outlet called The Georgetown Heckler. The Heckler poked fun at the other candidates — the ones inside the horse — in a joke piece posted prior to the election.

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1The Voice team obviously felt the Heckler article crossed the line, thus the image of the Heckler editors as overzealous and mean-spirited. Yet, that intended point was apparently lost on many members of the Georgetown community. Instead, individuals saw a black student and female student weirdly stuffed inside an animal being beaten by two white male students. The subsequent criticisms of the cartoon have included the buzzwords racist, misogynistic and insensitive.

For example, here’s the reaction of the organizer of the campus demonstration, which was held at Georgetown at the start of the week: “[I dislike] the fact that someone with the political climate … in this country right now, with police brutality against people of color, can’t see the problem with posting this — not just in general, because this is violence, but also with what’s happening in our world right now.”

A sampling of the related social media rancor:

According to The Hoya student newspaper, the cartoonist appeared at a town hall meeting held the day after the demonstration and asked for forgiveness from those present.

A portion of his apology: “I made a mistake. I ignored perspectives outside my own and I tried to spread my own message using imagery that was far too severe. In doing so, I failed to look outside myself. And you know what, that’s the result of my privilege. … I stand with you, I ask to be your ally. I don’t want to contribute to racism and I don’t want to make anyone feel afraid.”

In a separate email, Voice editor-in-chief Dayana Morales Gomez tells the Hoya:

“We don’t have a huge staff in the office every week, and most articles and drawings are coming in on production night, so mistakes slip through the cracks. Sometimes we forget an Oxford comma; sometimes we misattribute a quote. This week we neglected to consider all implications of [the cartoon]. The intent of the drawing was to criticize the Heckler, so we were not expecting a response like this. That being said, we have been receptive to the response and have since redacted the drawing. We are working to make sure a drawing like this one never again makes it to print.”

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