September 7, 2007
Word Fight! UVA Students Engage In Inarticulate Battle Over A Cartoon
It could be that I'm just grumpy on a Friday morning, but what strikes me about the dialog surrounding a cartoonist's offering that offended students in the University of Virginia's student newspaper
by Grant Woolard is that it lacks the barest hint of intellectual rigor. The charges against Woolard's cartoon, at least as articulated in the press, could have come from precocious students of a middle school shooting the breeze during a Social Studies class, more or less, and don't seem worthy of a serious protest made by supposedly very smart undergraduates at a school with Thomas Jefferson as a designer and first President. I mean, "He's continuously doing wrong?" That sounds like a sibling complaining to a parent.
I suppose the reason it strikes me is that it shows how poorly developed those ideas are: Shouldn't a cartoonist be allowed to offend people? Isn't that inevitable? Are there limits as to how far an artist should be allowed to go in an institution that has some sort of public trust aspect to it? How responsible is a paper for giving a cartoonist a platform whereby someone might be offended? Are there some areas of offense more actionable than others? Is it possible to overthink an issue like this one when good taste judiciously applied will do the trick? There's no easy agreement on those issues or the values behind them, which means there's no shared ground on which to have an argument. This calls for a second discussion that no one on earth seems prepared to have.
At any rate, the paper has apparently apologized
posted 3:06 am PST
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