Managers of a student newspaper at the University of Virginia, the Cavalier Daily, recently forced a staff cartoonist, Grant Woolard, to resign. This action stemmed from a controversy surrounding a drawing of Mr. Woolard’s that, according to the Washington Post, 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 theCavalier’s officers and demanded that Woolard be ousted. They 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 Washington Post reports that a debate still rages on campus over whether the paper’s managing board of editors should submit their resignations as well.
The Cavalier’s editors wasted no time in acting on this issue. However, when the Catholic League objected to anti-Christian cartoons the paper published in September 2006 (one of which was also drawn by Woolard), they did not show the same haste. The editors 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 kept on.
It is telling that the management of the Cavalier Daily is sensitive about the concerns of blacks and gays, but not 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.