Cav. Daily in Hot Water Over Comics…Again

In what’s becoming an annual flap, the Cavalier Daily has earned the ire of Christian groups across the nation for a pair of comics that they ran on Thursday and Friday. Eric Kilanski and Kellen Eilerts’ “TCB,” which appears daily in the student paper, had one strip showing Jesus telling jokes on the cross, and another showing a post-coital conversation between God and Mary. (The comics have been removed from their website.) As Brian McNeill explains in the Progress, the paper put a comics policy into place a year ago after a similar incident, in which Grant Woolard ran a trio of comics, two mocking Christianity and one making light of Ethiopian starvation. Bill O’Reilly got involved in that kerfuffle. Then, as now, the real problem was that the comics just weren’t very funny, but that’s life at a student paper. The paper is going to review their comics policy,

49 thoughts on “Cav. Daily in Hot Water Over Comics…Again”

  1. I can’t think of a CD comic that has been remotely funny, interesting, or witty. Maybe their comics “policy” should be that they don’t have comics.

  2. They don’t need to review their policy, IMO — they need instead just to DO THEIR JOBS. I’ve never seen such an unprofessional outfit. If there’s a long weekend or a break during the academic year, you can bet there’ll be no paper published on the first day back at school following the break. Sometimes they take off the day leading into a break. It’s like for the people who work at the Cav Daily, actually putting out a newspaper is way, way down the list of important things to do.

    This cavalier (ha-ha) attitude towards the newspaper makes me highly confident when I say that I can’t imagine any of them are really taking their jobs very seriously. Including whatever jobs relate to vetting comics.

  3. I’d take the controversial opinion that Religion should be fair game for satire. Carl Sagan was once reported to say that the only religion he’d ever consider converting to would be one where sacrilege was its highest sacrement. That said, these comics are just bad. They don’t seem to be making any sort of political point, but merely just to take a jab at Christians.

    I could see someone do the Mary/God one and use a comic like that to make a legitimate point about religion (i.e. why are things like adultery and murder okay when God does them?) Any point they could have made though was lost with the Vasectomy comment.

    I guess what I’m saying here is that if you’re going to offend someone’s religion, then you should at least have some kind of legitimate point to make first. There’s a fine line between satirizing religion and insulting people that follow a particular faith. The former can be a worthy thing to do, while the later rarely is.

  4. Lonnie, I’m a fan of Carl Sagan myself and I hear what you’re saying. However, I think the “Vasectomy comment” was sort of pertinent to the message of that particular strip.

    The idea is to intersperse easily recognizable points of objective reality amongst the nebulous fanciful visions of the faithful reader.

    Such an intellectual montage (combining elements of make-believe with empirical knowledge) sets up a cognitive dissonance that the artist must have hoped would lead to a sort of rational epiphany in the minds of unsuspecting religious people who might happen across it. This is the “point” of the comic.

    The experience is necessarily unsettling.

    I agree with you that there is a fine line here between satire and insult. I think it’s called “ridicule”, and it’s one of the best tools we have for ridding our culture of deleterious superstitious nonsense.

  5. Yeah, thanks for the link Blanco.

    I don’t see what the fuss was over. Those “comics” were just stupid. If they’d been removed for that reason, I’d have applauded. Removing it just because someone was offended is also… stupid.

  6. it’s one of the best tools we have for ridding our culture of deleterious superstitious nonsense.

    Is that what “we” are trying to do? All this time, I’ve been trying to be tolerant of other’s beliefs! Silly me!

  7. There’s nothing “silly” about it, Jeannine.

    Your sarcasm has a sanctimonious ring to it, though I can not believe that you really tolerate genital mutilation or the stoning to death of disobedient wives.

    You are probably good at tolerating fuzzy, warm religious nonsense, benign and happy delusions that keep the poor from complaining about their lot in life, but not so good when it gets nasty.

    That’s called exercising “judgment”, and it is your right as a conscious human being.

    I take umbrage myself when leaders inspire ignorant folks to war by invoking the “will” of locally popular deities.

    I think the notion of benign, comforting religion giving simple people hope has about as much place in the 21st century as the notion that our milk comes from happy cows who live in little red barns.

    Such notions are naive but not “silly” at all.

  8. You seem to live in an odd, little bubble, Doug. You may think religion has no place in society, but clearly, most people don’t agree with you. It comes off as quite self-important to think that you know what’s best for them.

    By the way, your definition of “local” is interesting.

  9. The problem with the Cav Daily‘s cartoonists is that they confuse “offensive” with “insightful” and “transgressive” with “funny” … they don’t appear to actually hold any political or social opinions other than “Look at me!” The folks at the Dec often have the problem.

    Last week a friend loaned me a copy of the final issue of a UVa student publications from the late-90’s, called The Yellow Journal. Does anyone remember it? I believe Jen Sorenson (of “Slowpoke” fame), Tyler Magill, Sara Shapouri, and some other folks were involved, but I’m not 100% sure of the details… (the credits page is deliberately incoherent, misleading, and ridiculous. sample line: “thanks to everyone who ever wrote for the yellow journal! we all finally lost our virginity!”)

    Anyhow, The Yellow Journal is just as offensive as anything the the Cav Daily has gotten into hot water over, with a significant difference… it’s FUNNY. It’s clever, pithy, politically minded, sharp-tongued, and deliberately ridiculous. It’s also one of the best student publications I’ve ever read, at UVa or elsewhere. There was something that made me laugh out loud on every page.

    Of course, they’re completely irreverant — in the single issue that I have, they skewer frat-boy culture, rock radio, grunge bands, Corks&Curls, the Family Circus, Larry Sabato, advice columns, ads for vibrators, Douglas Copeland, their own status as a magazine, etc etc. And they do all of it with razor-sharp wit and keen insight. My favorite bit is a chart on how to tell the difference between UVa right-wing publication the Virginia Advocate and national LGBT bi-weekly the Advocate.

    Anyhow, reading The Yellow Journal left me both inspired, and immensely disappointed in today’s crop of student publications. Today’s student-publication humorists would do well to track down some old copies and see how it’s done right.

  10. You may think religion has no place in society, but clearly, most people don’t agree with you.

    I’m pretty sure ‘most people’ have never bothered to think about the issue too deeply one way or the other. They believe what they’ve believed since childhood and never waver.

  11. DUG1138,

    I’m not sure how God’s Vasectomy qualifies as “recognizable point of objective reality”. Due to that, I think it’s rather clear that the comic was intended to be insulting rather than generate genuine intellectual dialogue. I think they still could have challenged their readership and made a point without needing to be crude about it.

    For that matter, while I agree that supernaturalists need to be taken to task somewhat for the imposition of their beliefs on the political process, and for their challenges to science, I can’t say that methods akin to those of Dawkin’s “God Delusion” are terribly productive. It basically comes down to intellectuals resorting to name-calling. Atheists would be better off making common cause with other Naturalistic philosophies to advocate the merits of reason and science, and the beauty of the Natural Universe, as Sagan once did.

    In short, we need not sacrifice open dialogue for the sake of tolerance, but neither do we need to openly insult those on the other side of this issue. After all, one could learn in any undergraduate level Psychology course that it is not an effective strategy for the behavior modification that is intended.

  12. Um, as a carefully considered Christian, I believe that Jesus endured far worse than a comic strip depiction–good or bad, funny or insulting. (That’s particularly relevant this week.) He doesn’t need our help *defending* him in this way. I think you are supposed to live your life courageously and compassionately, in that regard.

    And if you’re not Christian, it’s just a comic strip–good or bad, funny or insulting. Actually, the stand up one has a lot of double entendre going on…he’s *dying* up there! BA-DA-Boom!

  13. It’s a sad thing when people become so insensitive that they attack what they are personally scared of/offended by.

    Keep the focus where it should be, college newspaper geeks attempting to be funny on their geeky platform.
    I’m a christian and I like jokes as same as the next guy, but if you want to take on belief systems, take it on as a whole.

    You can’t. Islam scares you, homosexuals scare you, culture and ethnicity scare you. Hell and God doesn’t scare you.

    If those comics had been about dead babies, dead soldiers, dead students, muslims, homosexuality, AIDS, or hillary clinton and everyone would have something to say about these stupid kids who decided to do something stupid. Bravo.

  14. Heh. Annual since 1985 or ’86, at least. A friend of mine had a CD strip featuring a character named “Wrench Wry” which got complaints for its blaspehmous and often crude overtone back then. It was mostly just shrugged off. Of course those were the days when Easters was still a near memory and the Pep Band gleefully insulted everyone with its allegedly questionable jokes publicly during each home game and we were proud of that. Ahhh… the glory days. Nice to see the banter is still waving at the U.

  15. I write comics for the Cavalier Daily, and I’ve never liked TCB much. I’m a Christian myself, and they only ever do absurd/offensive things for shock value. But the administration there is easy to push around. They hide behind their ‘policy’ that changes to protect themselves whenever they need it. Comic artists can push things through because the editors do not take a stand. Then when controversy arises, protesters always get their way and the editors refuse to protect the artist even if they followed the amorphous ‘policy’.
    As a Christian, I am annoyed by their work, but you can not blame them for exercising freedom of speech. If anything, be sad, but not angry. And Jeannie, I don’t appreciate your hate on all CD comics. It’s already a thankless job, I don’t need to be insulted on TCB’s account.

  16. Can you imagine the reaction if they had made fun of Islam or worse, had a picture of Mohammad? There would be protests and calls for the artist to be murdered.

    They are in bad taste, especially the second one. However freedom of speech permits and should permit their publication.

  17. Why do people talk as if there’s no penalty for mocking Christianity, while those lucky other religions get all the protection? “Can you imagine the reaction if they’d made fun of Islam…”, “If those comics had been about dead babies, dead soldiers, dead students, muslims, homosexuality, AIDS, or hillary clinton…”: are you people not paying attention? Twice in the past couple of years the Cav Daily has apologized for anti-Christian comics; some Christian students on campus are outraged; national-level Catholic and Christian groups respond furiously; Bill O’Reilly foams at the mouth. I’m sorry, but Christians are NOT the most persecuted group in American society, though it really seems like some Christians wish they were.

    Lucky Muslims — they get all the breaks.

  18. Carl, that was nonsense. Nobody is threatening the Cav’s cartoonists with death, nor many other similar instances in the US. However people have been murdered for expressing opionions that some Muslims don’t like.

    Even South Park was censored so they wouldn’t depict Mohummad.

    Bill O’Reilly foaming at the mouth is harmless. Salman Rushdie needing protection isn’t harmless.

  19. However people have been murdered for expressing opionions that some Muslims don’t like.

    People have likewise been murdered for expressing opinions that some Christians don’t like.

  20. Waldo, there are people who require fulltime protection living in Holland, UK, and of course Sweden because of the collision of free speech and Islam. There is a difference here.

    I have no problem with the Cav printing that comic. I don’t have to like it, but I don’t have to read it either. However many Islamic groups want nations to censor free speech to conform to their views, and if not, they threaten them.

    Check the images at from a simple google search. We don’t have that in the US over complaints of cartoons regarding Jesus.

    “Piss on Christ” was protested but can you imagine the reaction to something called, “Piss on Mohammad”?

  21. Waldo, there are people who require fulltime protection living in Holland, UK, and of course Sweden because of the collision of free speech and Islam. There is a difference here.

    The difference is that Sweden is not, in fact, the United States.

    My point is that you’re trying to compare two utterly incomparable things. On the one hand, there are religious extremists who kill people who say things that they don’t like. On the other hand, there’s a comic in the Cavalier Daily. What of it?

  22. jmcnamera,

    I’m still not exactly sure of your point either. It is that Christians are somehow inherently more tolerant? I’m not sure history would vindicate that one. Consider how “Christians” in Highland County reacted when Dr. Kubler-Ross sought to create a facility for children with AIDS… For that matter, I’ve know people personally who’s only crime is practicing a different faith who’ve had their pets killed in gruesome ways and their lives threatened. And, yes, the people who did these things consider themselves “Christian”.

    For that matter, right here in Charlottesville, when a blogger Cathy didn’t like a political point I was trying to make regarding religious expression her response was to post this:

    But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and [that] he should be sunk in the depth of the sea.

    In short, I know of almost no major religion that has some kind of privileged moral higher ground above the others. The only ones that haven’t committed any major atrocities yet are just simply too new, or too small. Likewise with persecution, I find that almost all faiths have some history of persecution. The claim I repeatedly hear (even from a family member) that Christianity is the “most persecuted” religion is laughable at best.

    Despite these things, I still consider myself religious. I think religion serves many valuable purposes in people’s lives. I don’t believe though that any religion somehow automatically makes people more ethical just by becoming a member of its institutions.

  23. Good points, Lonnie. Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson come to mind? How tolerant are they?
    But then again they are not representative of all Christians. Think of the Quakers, the Unitarians(who some would say are not even Christian),and various other sects or congregations.
    For that matter, when a Gay Student Union formed at UVA some years ago their meeting space was provided by the Methodist student center offcampus.Despite criticism from other Methodists, the director courageously stood by his decision to permit the group to meet there.

  24. No, they aren’t representative of all Christians, and thank goodness! In fact, it is is the best people among all religions that inspire me to continue to call myself religious.

    As for Unitarian Universalists (UUs), we are a historically Christian Denomination which is no longer exclusively Christian. There are still Christian UUs, but now there are also Buddhist and Pagan UUs as well. In fact, Christians have become somewhat of a minority within UU Congregations in recent years although they continue to play an important role.

  25. Lonnie,
    The point is that Christians by and large are exercising free speech to protest the comics. Both printing them and protesting them is free-speech.

    I was drawing a comparison to the cartoons published in Sweden where the cartoonists lives were immediately threatened and protests were organized in many countries where people said the cartoonists should be beheaded or otherwise killed.

    I don’t recall Pat Robertson proclaming that someone should be killed or even worse actively trying to encourage it as has all too often happened within Islam.

  26. I don’t recall Pat Robertson proclaming that someone should be killed

    Not a year goes by in which Pat Robertson doesn’t proclaim that somebody should be killed. The most recent incidents that come to mind most readily are bodybuilder Phillip Busch, three members of the Supreme Court, and Hugo Chavez.

    Or, in terms that you may find more persuasive (or maybe just more inflammatory :), Mullah Robertson declared a fatwah on the lives of five people recently.

  27. Philip Busch alleges that he was threatened. The second link quotes Robertson as asking God to put it in the justices minds to retire, not to kill them.

    The third one though does quote him wanting Chavez’s death though at least its not for the serious crime of offensive cartoons. A real mullah is far more easily offended.

  28. It’s our political system and diverse society, not Christianity, that mitigates our own extremists. Mullah Robertson doen’t send people out with bombs to assasinate people because he knows he has better outlets for venting his ideas. I fully believe that should he and his minions ever achieve this mythical Christian Nation/Theocracy he craves that he’d be no different than the Taliban. Until then, his ilk are fine settling for forcing kids in public schools to attend Bible Classes.

  29. They aren’t forced to attend bible classes – its optional as even a casual reading of the 2004 article shows.

    I’d agree that kids should either do those classes on Sunday or after school and not as part of the school day, but Lonnie, you’re exagerating this.

    There is no threat of a theocracy happening here, nor are cartoonists threatened by drawing what they want. Nor are people who protest those cartoons threatened. That is happening in other countries, such as England, Sweden, Nigeria, India, etc on a regular basis.

  30. I’ll repeat the essence of my earlier post, because I feel like my point has been obscured by this “angry-Muslims-threaten-death, but-not-the-nice-Christians” thing.

    When an incident like the Cav Daily cartoon happens, some people talk as if there’s no penalty for mocking Christianity, as if Christianity is this poor persecuted kicked-around religion in the U.S. It’s not. And I find it odd that people like Bill O’Reilly and other so-called Christians seem so badly to want to be oppressed, to be the persecuted minority religion. Give me a break.

  31. Cecil, the essence of my post is that Bill O’Reilly ranting is easily ignored. The cartoonists for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper require protection for their safety two and half years after their cartoons were published.

  32. …and how exactly is that different from how Darla Wynne in South Carolina has to arm herself to keep herself and her pets from being killed by “Christian” extremists in her town? That’s just one example (and I can provide more).

    In addition, I think I’d consider being forced to sit silently, or wash blackboards, as well as being singled out by your peers, as clearly being cooerced to attend Bible Classes. When a local church spoke out about it, they had a burning cross on their lawn (as if that’s not ironic). I attended the meeting in Staunton when they considered discontinuing the policy (for SOLs not for the sake of tollerance). I watched the audience boo and jeer a Jewish parent who simple requested that they move it after school so his son wouldn’t be singled out. I saw a woman shout with rage about how they’d “taken Jesus out of school”. I was there supporting a friend of mine of another faith, and frankly after hearing a few speakers, she was afraid of speaking lest the mob take her out back and hang her.

    I have great respect for Christianity and the teachings of Jesus; however I feel some Christians need to stop and consider what it is really like being a minority faith in the U.S. Trust me, the only difference between radical fundemetalist Christians and radical Islamists is the name of the book they read.

    All the time people say “it can’t happen here”. My wife worked in Northern Ireland and Croatia. Her experiences taught her that indeed it can, happen here. We must always be vigilant against radicals of faith, be they of any religion.

  33. Philip Busch alleges that he was threatened. The second link quotes Robertson as asking God to put it in the justices minds to retire, not to kill them.

    The third one though does quote him wanting Chavez’s death though at least its not for the serious crime of offensive cartoons. A real mullah is far more easily offended.

    Just as you are able to rationalize away Robertson’s death threats as possibly fictionalized, potentially having an alternate meaning, and acceptable to you, so too do you accuse Muslims of doing.

  34. Huh?
    Darla Wynne’s pets killed by Christian extremists? How did you come to that conclusion? The lady practices witchcraft which, I’m quite sure, upsets more than the “Christians” in town. Lest you forget, teenagers that harass people for being different or hillbilly/redneck pestering has nothing to do with Christianity. How was that ruled out (in your reasoning).

    I have always found it interesting how people, especially Americans, can feel for a animal, but disregard people. The death toll in Iraq is winked at and complained about due to the economy. It’s sad really.

    It’s more than the BOOK that separates Islam from Christianity. The Muslim belief system cannot compare to the beliefs of Christianity in terms of peace and tolerance. It’s a fact. Islam is not a belief system of peace, period. I challenge you to find ANY Muslim organization (IN THIS COUNTRY) that has done anything for non-believers of their faith to provide relief or aid. You won’t, you can’t.

    I don’t like when people align me with people who call themselves “Christians”, but obviously by their behaviors and actions are not. These people who have a problem with my faith attempt to rant on about how crazy my belief system is compared to the ignorance of the CORE/Fundamental belief of Christianity. Christian means “Christ-like”. Ask the next raving idiot you see thats steps on people in the name of Jesus if he/she knows that.

  35. Perhaps you didn’t read the whole article… Her pets were killed after she protested a prayers to Jesus in her local City Council meetings. She wouldn’t have even protested that, but she came specifically to council to ask them to address the drug dealing on her street, which they refused to do because she wouldn’t pray along with everyone else.

    So… yes, this has everything to do with Christianity (or rather the institution and followers thereof). Frankly it doesn’t matter if Darla worshiped the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Five Blue Dogs. In our society, thanks to the wisdom of folks like Thomas Jefferson, we have the right to practice any belief we want.

    Your comments frankly remind me alot of Rob Shilling’s interview with Xin Shen when he ask the Chinese whether Falun Gong had the right to freely exercise their religion, and Xin Shen said that Falun Gong was a “Cult” not a religion. Basically, you seem to be saying that you’d feel differently if Darla Wynne were Jewish or another religion you agreed with, but since she’s Wiccan then it’s reasonable that the town harrass her, threaten her life and kill her pets. After all, the city refused to invesstigate the crimes against her but had no problem continuing their prayers to jesus.

    As for your insinuation that not all Christians are Christian. I think it’s just an attempt to avoid responsibilty. After all, when a leading evangelical is discovered to be gay and doing drugs well then he must not have been a real Christian, right? I’ve heard this argument before and found it weak. Christianity as an institution does have members, and those members have commited crimes of intollerance as severe as anything ever done by Islam. One might say those Christians missed the core message, but they werepart of the institutions of Christianity. Ignoring that fact just sets up the conditions for others to repeat those crimes in the future. After all, I’m sure the majority of people during the inquisition sincerely believed they were indeed “Christians”.

    Lastly, I want to be clear that I don’t feel any religion has the higher ground here. We all have blood on our hands. The sooner we realize it, the sooner we can do something about it.

  36. It’s more than the BOOK that separates Islam from Christianity. The Muslim belief system cannot compare to the beliefs of Christianity in terms of peace and tolerance. It’s a fact. Islam is not a belief system of peace, period.

    You’ve expressed a belief and claimed it as a “fact.” If it’s a fact, it should be a snap for you to document that.

    You’re attempting to present as a monolith something that is not. There are Sufis, Shi’ites, Sunnis and Fundamentalists. Lumping together Fundamentalists with Sunnis (as you are doing) is like conflating the Westboro Baptist Church with Quakers. You manage only to reveal your ignorance about religion in doing so.

    Hundreds died in the Murrah Federal Building at the hands of Christian terrorists. The KKK lynched hundreds in the name of Christianity. There are 50,000 members of the Christian Identity movement in the U.S. alone. Is Christanity a violent religion? Nope, it’s a mixed bag. “I come to bring not peace, but the sword”? Or “turn the other cheek”? Depends on who you ask.

    I challenge you to find ANY Muslim organization (IN THIS COUNTRY) that has done anything for non-believers of their faith to provide relief or aid. You won’t, you can’t.

    You mean like helping to rebuild New Orleans? Or creating a medical job training program for women, performing free health screenings for the poor, and running soup kitchens? Maybe running a shelter for abused women? How about housing the homeless?

    I found those in three minutes of googling. There were dozens more, but I figure I can stop there.

    You may eat crow in 3…2…1…

  37. Hmmm…Where’s Waldo? What that? In front your PC hoping that Wikipedia would help your extremly weak argument. Read the articles you provided and answer the original question I posed. Christianity has never been a mixed bag. I love how you removed racist, WHITE, hillbilly, child-murdering, pagan (KKK) believers and attempted to assign the label of Christianity. Christianity is not assignedto thosa who claim it, it is assigned to those who live it.

    Walk in a military hospital and state your claim about Islam. I am from New Orleans (I actually was there for Katrina and Rita – before and after – in a Law Enforcement capacity) and cleaning out an abandoned house in the ninth ward…(if you knew what you were talking about this would make more sense) is not providing relief or aid to anyone.

    I digress, however. Christianity is about service to others and denying of self without compromise. Any person who does not operate in this capacity is by definition…are you ready….not Christians.

    Allow me to make it a little easier for you to help define this….

    1. Jesus was vigin born.

    2. He was crucified for the sins of the world and died.

    3. Jesus raised himself from the dead.

    4. Jesus ascended to heaven after giving the “great commission”

    Allow me to paraphrase: Go into yhe world and water baptize all those who accept these truths (the top 4) and all that I have taught you. Love one another and serve one another. I am coming back soon.

    Accept or reject it, it’s your choice. People want to hold on to some of the beliefs here and reject the rest. That disqualifies you as a Christian.

    I simply don’t like my beliefs trampled on. That’s my right as a human being. I get to voice my dismay about it. That’s my right as an American.

  38. Whoa. You know that moment in a conversation with a stranger where it dawns over you ohhhhh, this person I’m talking to is crazy, and you starting trying to edge away? Ladies and gentlemen, that moment has been isolated, and this is it.

  39. Lonnie, I looked at the link for Darla Wynne and noticed it was from 2004. Happen to know something more recent re that case? Perhaps I’ll Google her.
    I had a Pagan friend who lived in Rapidan who encountered some of the same problems with the local Christians of Culpeper County, got nasty notes put on her car because she had a “Trust God She Loves You” bumpersticker.
    As for religous invocations at meetings of government bodies, why have them at all, just get down to business?

  40. the incident with Darla was indeed a while back. Perhaps I’ll email her and see what’s up now. I do know she won her case against the town, but that didn’t exactly make her life easier…

    As for governments praying, I think it is excusionary and unnecessary. It makes a whole range of people that might want to participate in their local government not feel like equal citizens. It’s more than just Atheists and Pagans, from what I understand. Several Christian denominations prohibit mixing church and state (for the sake of church) like the Mennonites. My understanding is that they don’t do the Pledge of Alegiance either.

    You know, out of all the controversial bumperstickers that I’ve ever had, the one that seemed to generate the most anger from random people was one that said “God is too big for one religion”.

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