CBW, give me a break
Congratulations go out to The Casco Bay Weekly, which last week managed to appease and insult its audience in one fell swoop.
CBW took criticism for three weeks while printing a cartoon “Chef Al’s Fowl”, which depicted the mutilation and implied consumption of women. Angry readers wrote letters of complaint, and a protest occurred outside CBW’s Congress Street office last Wednesday. In response, editor David Tyler apologized for running the ad and acknowledged the offensive nature of the cartoon.
Next to the apology, CBW ran another cartoon, “Social Order”, which emphasized cartoons are not real, and no one is actually injured in an illustration. The insinuation is that readers cannot distinguish between illustration and reality.
Criticism is nothing new to the weekly publication. CBW is known throughout the Portland area as a provocative paper which pushes the limits of political correctness.
It seems CBW fails to distinguish between pushing the limit in the name of journalism, and pushing it simply to prove to readers it can do whatever it wants.
According to the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, media is supposed to encourage the public to voice concerns with the news media. In a small city like Portland, CBW is one of the primary forums for people to complain about issues, including those within the publication itself. As a responsible (and mature) publication, CBW should suck it up when receiving criticism. Encouraging the public to voice concerns means more than simply printing letters to the editor. CBW did respond, but by running the “Social Order” cartoon opposite the apology, the paper undermined the whole “encouragement” part of encouraging readers to voice concerns. Making fun of readers is immature and unprofessional.
If CBW intentionally ran the cartoon next to the letter from the editor to make a statement about its right to publish controversial material, it failed. If editors ran the cartoon without recognizing the insult within it, then they simply are not doing their jobs.
If CBW wants to assert its right to print whatever it wants, then Tyler should not have apologized for it. Since he did, the least he could do is pretend to be sincere.
A few USM individuals retaliated against The Casco Bay Weekly’s sadistic cartoon by refusing to allow its distribution at some campus locations. Portland Student Life, Gorham Student Life and Portland Hall requested the paper not be dropped off at their respective campus locations until a more sincere apology is printed by CBW. I applaud these departments for speaking up publicly on a community-wide issue and taking a stand. The public should question the media and what it chooses to print.
I question, however, the decision to prevent CBW from distributing the paper on campus. It is not the decision of a few people on campus to decide how the entire community feels about CBW or its content.
This campus is made up of a wide variety of opinions and ethics. It is not the role of administrators to censor the type of newspapers that are distributed on the grounds of a public university. If a few people are angered they should write letters to CBW (which they did), protest (which they did), and try to educate the campus on the larger issue (which they did not). For the campus to truly become educated on issues such as the reason why the cartoon “Chef Al’s Fowl” is frightening to women, they need to be able to see the publication. Perhaps those who disagree with the paper could post fliers near the on-campus distribution points. This way readers can decide how they feel about the cartoon according to their own morals and ideals.
Simply because a few people at USM are angry with the CBW, does not give them the right to censor it from campus. No one is forced to pick it up, but we should all be allowed to make the choice for ourselves.