On January 13, The Observer, the student newspaper at the University of Notre Dame ran an incredibly offensive and dangerous cartoon. In the cartoon, two characters have the following dialogue:
“What is the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”
“A baseball bat.”
According to the cartoonists’ now-defunct blog, the original version had used the punch line, “AIDS,” instead of “A baseball bat,” but editors of the school paper had decided that was too problematic.
GLAAD immediately reached out to the student paper and demanded an apology and action be taken to prevent this type of thing from happening again. GLAAD also contacted the office of the President of Notre Dame to insist that the administration denounce the cartoon and its message of violence.
The Observer acted quickly, publishing an editorial retracting the cartoon and apologizing for it in the following day’s edition. The cartoonists issued an apology in the form of a letter to the editor – they also pulled down their blog entirely. The Observer provided space for guest columns about the cartoon to a professor of sociology, the school’s “Core Council,” Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College, as well as GLAAD. GLAAD’s op-ed will be submitted this week. The editor that made the dangerously misguided decision to publish the cartoon resigned from the paper, and the Editor in Chief has decided to cancel future publication of the cartoon.
Additionally, the President of the University of Notre Dame issued a statement about the cartoon: “The University denounces the implication that violence or the expressions of hatred toward any person or group of people is acceptable or a matter that should be taken lightly.”
The Editor in Chief of The Observer is revising internal policies to avoid this type of dangerous content from being published again. One of the very first actions she took was to place a copy of GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide at every work station at the paper.
GLAAD will continue to work with The Observer to foster fair, accurate and inclusive future coverage of LGBT people and issues.