Both versions of the strip considered by editors, including the original rejected submission (second from the top). Beneath the strips is a gmail chat between one of the comic creators and an Observer staffer.
I was patient, I believe, with the flap over the anti-gay comic strip Mobile Party that ran in Notre Dame’s Observer earlier this month. I was patient and more forgiving until I saw the original comic considered by editors at the Observer. In the original, the punch line was uglier, if that’s at all possible.
The cartoon depicts a conversation between two figures that reads:
“What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?"
“A baseball bat.”
Earlier, the cartoonist, who has not yet been named, posted the original version of the cartoon on his blog. In this version, it shows the punch line as “AIDS” instead of “a baseball bat.” The paper, he claimed, preferred “not to make light of fatal diseases.”
The original chat between the Observer and creators of the comic strip is above. According to The Observer, the primary authors of the strip are Notre Dame seniors Colin Hofman, Jay Wade and Lauren Rosemeyer.
What were these young adults thinking? How could they have possibly thought that either of those jokes were acceptable?
Among the criticisms emanating from faculty and students at Notre Dame and its sister school St. Mary’s, here is part of a statement from student representatives of St. Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance (Notre Dame does not officially recognize a GSA-related group on its campus): “You may not like it but Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is a home to lesbian, gay and bisexual students. Your call as both a Christian and as a human being is to respect them. Making light of the very real threat of homophobic motivated hate crimes is a poor excuse for humor and a despicable action. I completely support and defend a person’s freedom of belief, expression and speech. However, when expressing that belief takes the form of language which encourages violence against a group of people, you have crossed a professional and ethical line.”
Similarly, in a piece touching on the comic’s status as a symbol of a larger discriminatory and ignorant mindset at the school, a Notre Dame sociology professor writes, “This [the comic controversy] is no isolated incident on our campus. . . . Getting a cheap laugh at the expense of the abused, bashed, disabled and even murdered not only belittles these horrific experiences but encourages more violence.”
The administration at the University of Notre Dame must step up and do more. The administration must finally sponsor a gay-straight alliance. That takes courage in the face of the United States Catholic bishops who are so incredibly out of touch, and the Vatican, which exists in a parallel universe.
What would Jesus do? I know that’s a simple question.
The answer is simple too.
The University of Notre Dame must finally and completely embrace its gay and lesbian students, faculty and staff.