UVA’S DOUBLE STANDARD
Catalyst October Issue 2007
Managers of a student newspaper at the University of Virginia, the Cavalier Daily, forced a staff cartoonist, Grant Woolard, to resign last month. This action stemmed from a drawing done by Woolard. According to the Washington Post, the cartoon depicted “nine darkened figures with bald, enlarged heads, dressed only in loincloths, fighting each other over a tree branch, pillow, chair, boot and stool. The caption for the melee: ‘Ethiopian Food Fight.’”
Minority groups on campus, under the leadership of the local NAACP, showed up at the offices of the Cavalier Daily, demanding that Woolard be ousted. The minority groups were quickly obliged. The paper’s editor-in-chief explained, “The instant the public raised a question about it, we realized it was a mistake.” In addition, the Post reported that a debate raged on campus over whether the paper’s managing board of editors should have submitted their resignations as well.
The Cavalier Daily’s editors wasted no time in acting on this issue. However, when the Catholic League objected to anti-Christian cartoons that the paper published in September 2006 (one of which was also drawn by Woolard), the editors did not show the same haste. They initially refused to apologize (though they had previously apologized for a cartoon that upset gays) and stood by the cartoons, dubbing them acceptable satire. Eventually, the cartoons were removed from the paper’s website and a statement of regret was posted. But Woolard was not ousted.
It is telling that the management of the Cavalier Daily is sensitive to the concerns of blacks and gays at the University of Virginia, but not to the concerns of Christians. It seems that while racism and gay-bashing are treated seriously on the campus, religious bigotry is not seen as such a problem.