Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The biggest example of "Dude, Not Funny" in the history of local newspaper cartoons?

Trigger Warning for discussions of depictions of domestic abuse

Like many a liberal arts college with a strong journalism program, my university has a student paper. As far as student papers go, it's not bad, and the layout has changed to be a bit more clean and professional since I was a freshman. It's usually got a few typos and the columns aren't always top quality, but I am not expecting the London Times or anything. It also gained some notoriety for a sex column a while ago, owing to the pearl-clutching ridiculousness of an overly right-wing, prudish professor. The sad thing is, while that gained nationwide attention and sparked a huge campus dialogue, what I am about to complain about probably won't even register on most people's radars.
I read the paper every day, from cover-to-cover. It's a good way to not only catch up on the news going 'round the university, but I get also a good laugh out of the Police Blotter and a few of the other lighter features. I also get to remind myself as to why I no longer major in journalism.
Today while reading the paper, I came across an editorial cartoon which isn't available on the internet, but which I'll describe here for your consideration. This is from memory, so bear with me, it may not be 100% perfect total recall, but the gist of it:
It pictured a woman who was visibly battered and bruised sitting on a bench with two police officers, one male, one female, and one of the police officers says, "Calm down, now tell me what he did?" and the woman replies, "He just kept hitting me with student fee after student fee!" The caption of the cartoon reads, "Not even the SARC (Student Assault Resource Center) could prepare for the greatest abuse on campus!"
What. The Ever Loving Fuck.
So, not only did they use graphic and disgusting imagery of violence against a woman, they tastelessly used it to promote the idea that paying $5 for a PIRG or an Athletic fee is comparable to the horror of undergoing domestic violence and battery. They even had the audacity to add a dollop of localized awful to the tasteless confection by bringing in the university's SARC, whose services have been utilized by countless women here who have survived the trauma of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and battery.
I didn't think there's anything I can add to this. The tastelessness and outright nasty arrogance of the cartoonist seems clear to me, but since this comic was created and greenlighted to be put in the paper in the first place, I'll say this:
Just as it is wrong for the Tea Party to compare taxation to rape, it is equally wrong, on many levels, for one to insinuate that there is any comparison between going to college and being asked to pay some extra money (A few of the student fees are refundable by the way, or you can opt out of them) to pay for programs on campus, and being violently assaulted. I am a survivor of abuse, and the lingering horror, post traumatic stress disorder, and plethora of issues with intimacy, loving, and trust cannot be flippantly used as a vehicle to whine about your wallet hurting slightly.
Or, to put it more succincty:
Shame on you for printing this, student paper. If I had my way, the cartoonist and entire editorial staff would be spending a week volunteering at the local YWCA, so they could get a taste of the pain and suffering domestic abuse survivors go through, if it would prevent them from ever thinking this is okay in the future.


  1. Ugh. What a horrible comparison and utterly unfunny cartoon.
    Have you thought about sending in this whole post as a letter to the editor?

  2. I'm considering it, actually. I'm sure the SARC will be all over this, especially since they were mentioned, but another voice can't hurt.

  3. I hope you do send it in. The more protestations, the better.