Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Sheaf Hits the Fan

Tuesday was interesting on the radio. I got rather riled up as I listened to John Gormley announce he’d not let the issue die until every sitting member of The Sheaf was fired and/or brought before the human rights commission for their poor taste political cartoon satirizing the non-publication of the Muslim cartoons the previous week. It seems obvious to me that the cartoon authors were doing what one caller to the radio show described, and that was satirizing capitalists who exploit the divisive potential of religion for monetary gain [in addition to protesting the non-publication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons]. Rawlco Radio easily fell for this trap, and Mr. Gormley’s view is about as hypocritical as the paper’s since he last I heard was in favour of the publication of the Muslim cartoons which in many countries were considered more vile than this Jesus cartoon was.

I thought it was really irresponsible of Mr. Gormley to suddenly pick up on a caller’s opinion that this cartoon was illegal hate literature, and started calling it that too. That’s as good as an accusation of a crime, which I thought he had more class than to do that, especially since he should know his spin can affect opinions in the province. I can see how the comic is offensive to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, since Jesus is a figure in all three, and sex acts with animals equally offensive. Especially since pigs are considered unclean in Judaism and Islam, it could be seen in a completely differently offensive way depending on the person. That’s why it’s so easy to realize that there could be a perspective where the cartoon isn’t solely offensive, only vile in a Howard Stern way, and in the context of the paper not printing the Muslim Cartoons it’s possibly a protest against that decision.

Was it right to publish the cartoon of Jesus in a sexual act with the capitalist piglet? No, it was not the best thought out form of protest, or political statement because it will likely see the authors dragged before a tribunal of some sort to satisfy the hypocrites that condemned Muslim reaction to a set of cartoons they found offensive. At no time did Mr. Gormley or his callers bemoan the fact that Muslims had no human rights tribunals to punish the cartoonists with, yet here they are chomping at the bit to use the harshest legal punishments they can devise for rebellious activists who managed to get published in a STUDENT newspaper. It was not a good idea to publish the cartoon, because a lot of people just feel it’s not right to be that crude in print, and that’s a fair enough opinion. I prefer a well worded protest or rant to an in-your-face cartoon, but the odds of being noticed are a lot better with an offensive cartoon than just another weblog/editorial rant.

Here’s a response to the cartoon that I feel is the most appropriate for a Christian to have:

“The following is a submission to Life of Turner from an anonymous source:

I’ve been trying to figure out what the publishing of the “Capitalist Piglet” means to me, and I realize the answer is not much. Did the Sheaf have the right to publish it? Yes. Did Yiph have the right to create it? Yes. Do I have to like it? No. As a Christian, I am taught that that which is permissible is not always beneficial. This cartoon is obviously not beneficial to me, but I have to respect the permissibility of it. Furthermore, I am taught that where I am weak, God is strong. Looking at the cartoon makes me want to be outraged and yet I can find peace. Part of this peace is knowing that my outrage is superficial at best, as this cartoon does not hinder my salvation or the salvation of anyone else. My outrage is based either in the fact that their own editorial policy was broken, or that my fees have paid for this to be published. Peace comes in knowing that Christ has been here already. He was sworn at and spat on during his march to Calvary, and this is no different. If I am to be an ambassador of peace, then why should I be up in arms? My role is to spread truth and to help find resolution rather than to point blame. Mistakes were made, and now forgiveness is to be had. As a Christian the best thing I can do now is to love those who need it. When dealing with an issue in the Bible, Jesus would often use wit to turn a situation around and to bring something beneficial to light. Our wit is this: the staff at the Sheaf need to be encouraged. They need support, but mostly they need forgiveness. The University community needs to put this issue down and to have something productive come from it. We all have a part to play in being Christ to the world and it all starts with forgiveness.

I was most disturbed by the caller to CJME that claimed Ahenakew’s anti-semitic comments about the holocaust were in some way comparable to this cartoon [the Jesus cartoon can be seen on Small Dead Animals]. I can’t see how claiming “Hitler was right to fry 6 million of those guys” in any way mirrors the satirical cartoon depiction of a divine saviour [from ancient literature and regarded as the son of God to many North Americans] in a sexual act with a cartoon representation of capitalist greed. In the context of the recent battle over whether or not to publish “vile” depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the cartoon is simply a misjudged attempt at satire. If it had been published two months ago when it wouldn’t be as clear why someone should think it to be satirical, then I acknowledge the “hate literature” charge could possibly stick. In Canada for a crime to be committed you need both the criminal act and the intent. I honestly don’t think the intent of the cartoonists was to tell people to hate Christians, Muslims, and Jews. But that’s just my opinion, and Derek’s too, and in the coming days the authors’ comments might shed some further light on the whole issue.

“Derek Turner, a Sheaf board member, said he was aware of the cartoon [through a friendship only] before it was published and understood the cartoonists intended to make a point about the paper’s decision not to publish the controversial Mohammed cartoons.

“I was quite surprised to see it in the Sheaf, and quite disappointed in the editorial decision to publish such a cartoon, particularly at such a tenuous politically and religiously charged time,” Mr. Turner said.”

Haloscan |


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