Notre Dame Student Newspaper The Observer Apologizes For Publishing Dangerous Anti-Gay Cartoon

On Wednesday, 13 January, The Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame University ran an incredibly troubling cartoon that promotes violence against the LGBT community. The cartoon depicted a conversation between two figures.  The conversation read,

"The Mobile Party" from The Observer January 13, 2010

“What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?” “No idea.” “A baseball bat.” As many people know, “fruit” is often used as a derogatory term for members of the LGBT community. This type of advocacy of anti-LGBT violence must stop.  It isn’t funny.  What’s more, it promotes hate crimes, which are all too prevalent in society today. The cartoonist had posted on his blog – though it’s since been removed – his original version of the cartoon.  In the original version, it shows that the punchline read, “AIDS” instead of “A baseball bat.”  The paper, he reported, preferred “not to make light of fatal diseases.”

The Observer made a dangerously misguided decision that promoting violence was somehow superior to making fun of HIV/AIDS.  Both versions of the cartoon were abhorrent.

GLAAD contacted The Observer immediately upon seeing this cartoon.  The Editor in Chief Jenn Metz relayed a tearful and what appeared to be heartfelt apology by phone.  She explained that she was not present when the decision to run this cartoon was made, and that she was incredibly upset that others on staff had made that decision. Metz plans to run what she describes as a “full retraction and apology,” in Friday’s edition of The Observer.  GLAAD will watch for that retraction and apology.  Additionally, GLAAD asked Metz to ensure that the staff responsible for running this cartoon – both the cartoonist and editor who decided it was fit for print – be reprimanded. GLAAD has also reached out to the office of the President of Notre Dame University, and called upon that office to issue a statement condemning violence and this cartoon that promotes violence.  We await response from the University on how they plan to address this type of violent dialogue from continuing to be advanced on campus. We’ll update this post when we receive Metz’s written apology and when we hear back from the University. Update:  Today The Observer published an apology for the cartoon.  It read, in part, "The editors of The Observer would like to publicly apologize for the publication of "The Mobile Party" in the Jan. 13 edition. The burden of responsibility ultimately lies on us for allowing it to go to print. There is no excuse that can be given and nothing that can be said to reverse the damage that has already been done by this egregious error in judgment."