Tuesday’s edition of PressNotes reports that al Qaida in Iraq put a hit on a Swedish cartoonist and Swedish editor for a cartoon portraying the Prophet Muhammud as a dog. The story in Editor & Publisher indicates the cartoon ran to flex muscles of free expression. Nothing in the story dealt with whether the cartoon had any value beyond shocking or offending readers.
The Parthenon, Marshall University’s campus newspaper, ran an editorial cartoon Sept. 14 in which Jesus suggests an abortion protester who visited campus earlier in the week should have been aborted.
The group came to campus from Richmond, Va., with children and graphic photos of aborted babies in tow. The leader used a bullhorn to harangue students. Some students protested the protesters, but no violence resulted.
The visit was a major topic of discussion on campus and in classes and prompted several letters to the editor and a column. Students who described themselves as Christians were offended by the actions of this outside Christian group.
The editors thought the cartoon had value, but they were concerned about running a cartoon in which Jesus advocates killing. Marshall University is in the buckle of the Bible Belt and closely tied to the community of Huntington. As goes Marshall, so goes Huntington.
Some of the editors reflected on their own Christian values and debated what their mothers would say if they ran the cartoon. They considered the fallout in the Huntington community because The Parthenon is widely read throughout the city. They also considered the news value of the cartoon, which opined on an event that had a noticeable impact on the campus. They agreed they would have run a column expressing the same sentiment. Shouldn’t a picture commentary enjoy the same consideration?
Ultimately, they decided to run the cartoon. They received one e-mail congratulating them on having courage to run it. That was all.