To the Editor:
I just read your editorial in The Free Press this week and the cover article by Steve Peoples “Cartoon Prompts Community Outrage.” I believe it is true that critics of my cartoon cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy.
Nancy Gish in particular, USM’s illustrious professor of English and women’s studies, seems to have more faith in my medium than even I do. I hate to see my dear friend, CoreyPandolph, “the great Pandolphini,” who drew the Social Order comic strip next to David Tyler’s editorial last week, being dragged into this fray. I hope the slander that I deserve does not hurt Mr. Pandolph’s other media enterprises. Your editorial was insightful despite being paranoid. Good luck to NOW, SARS, and Family Crisis Services in boycotting CBW’s advertisers.
Are they going to stand out in front of The Great Lost Bear and say to people “You don’t want to eat here because they advertise in a newspaper that prints misogynistic cartoons?”
Keep the faith,
The following two letters originally appeared on the USM Listserv and are reprinted here with permission.
I returned from an all-day meeting in Bangor to find many e-mails related to the Casco Bay Weekly and the First Amendment. I offer a brief response.
The First Amendment will always be respected at USM. Our primary mission is to be a place where the free expression of ideas promotes individual growth and the quality of community life. That is possible only if we nurture and promote an active examination of ideas, including those we disagree with or even find abhorrent.
This is sometimes a difficult challenge such as in the recent case of vile and disgusting cartoons carried by a local newspaper (which I choose not to read). The harsh light of open dialogue and public scrutiny are the means to oppose such trash, not censorship in any form.
As a public university, we also have a responsibility to speak out against acts of ignorance and hate. I hope all interested parties will attend the forum on violence against women planned for April 17. That is the type of responsible action a university should take to foster basic human respect.
To the Editor:
My staff and I had heard from many students who were outraged and offended by the cartoons in the Casco Bay Weekly. We chose to support these students by responding in a couple of ways. After much discussion and using the University Space Use Policy, I contacted the CBW editor and suggested that they not deliver the paper to the Woodbury Campus Center (only) until they terminated the cartoon. Contrary to some of the information that has been posted on the Listserv thus far, I never “banned” the paper from the rest of campus and I never told CBW that we would scoop up the paper if it was delivered. I also was clear that we would welcome the paper in the campus center if the cartoon was terminated. In part, I based my decision on the Use Policy that states “we have the right to refuse use of our public space to any group or individual when we determine that such use would be in conflict with or not enhance the mission of the University.” Further it states that “activities conducted must have a primary purpose which is educational or informational and should be carried out so as to benefit the campus in the fulfillment of its mission with sensitivity to the total community.” My interpretation of this policy, strong student voices, and the cartoon itself -which I do believe was particularly pointless and “over the top” in terms of violence and hate -guided my decision. I should add that this University Space Use Policy is currently being reviewed by University attorneys.
In retrospect, I wish I had made a different decision and I think much of the USM community is telling me I should have made a different decision – so I listen. My staff and I intended to spark dialogue, voicing outrage towards violence against women with our actions. We intended to cultivate the strong community values that I know exist around civility and ethically “doing the right thing.”
Instead, we have “offended” many of you regarding free speech rights. I understand your concerns and I certainly do not intend to be the “thought police” for the USM community. My staff and I do strive with your help to make the Woodbury Campus Center, the “living room of campus,” a safe, welcoming place for all people and ideas. I understand that diverse points of view are imperative to the educational mission, perhaps no matter how offensive.
Thank you for your comments and please note that CBW is being delivered to the campus center and in fact, due to the timing of this all, never ceased being delivered to the campus center. I invite you all to the panel discussion around the media, free speech, and violence against women being co-sponsored by our department on Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. in Luther Bonney Auditorium.
Director for Portland Student Life
And students respond
To the Editor:
Where is the Casco Bay Weekly? Last week a group at USM exhibited an act of censorship and one-sided politics counter to my beliefs. Boycotting is certainly a personal choice, but censorship and theft is blatantly wrong! Some campus groups get the lion’s share of publicity in the campus center and while I fully support the efforts of these groups to express collegiate diversity, I would hope they do so with fair play. These groups expose certain instances as personal affronts and frequently portray conveniently selected cases with one-sided opinions. Censorship is bad and should not be tolerated at USM, a bastion for welcome ideas represented by a variegated [sic] society. Last week at Brown University, students in opposition to the Brown Daily Herald set out and stole all available copies. The BDH stated, “Stifling speech is no way to defeat flawed ideas.” The Press Herald informs us of the actions of a woman convicted of murder. Vella Gogan shot her sleeping husband, chopped his body into 15 pieces and buried them beside a remote logging road. Do these same factions who stole CBW suddenly support violence against husbands? If not, propose a boycott of PPH and refuse its distribution on campus. Certainly, the PPH does not support domestic violence and is simply doing its duty to the people by reporting the news. The Free Press reports a display of media concerning African-Americans titled, “If He Hollers, Let Him Go.” Most people know the preceding phrase to this as, “eenie meenie minee moe, catch a nigger by the toe.” The word is insinuated. Where is the boycott The Free Press campaign? Everyone has areas of personal affronts, but this does not entitle close-minded censorship.
Ronald Gervais, Jr.
Too many fees
To the Editor:
I don’t believe I am the only working, nontraditional student who is frustrated with the fees I get every semester. The fee that I have the biggest problem with is the $40 fee that I get hit with for a service I will never need to use. With the rising cost of health care, the mandatory student health fee is just another “out of pocket” medical expense which is adding to the frustration I am already feeling.
In the fall of 2000 over 1,700 students who were 30 years old and over were assessed the student health fee. Personally, I have my own doctor, my own insurance, and I don’t feel satisfied with a few cough drops and a handful of ibuprofen.
I have complete faith in the competence of the health care professionals at USM, but I don’t need University Health, and I’m already paying for healthcare through my job.
I encourage others to join me in expressing their opinion on the current mandatory health fee.
Junior, Media Studies
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to your March 19, 2001 issue. On Page 6, under Senate Update, I was quoted as saying: “Federal guidelines require work-study students to be paid even if doing homework.” Ryan Milliken (your staff writer) did go on to clarify what I had said. However, I still had questions that made me believe some people were confused by my statement. Most likely any confusion would be because they did not hear the entire statement. What I had said was: First even though the program is called “work-study” the study part is the education you get by working at this job, it is not intended that students must be given the chance to do homework while working at a work-study job. However, if the student is working a work-study job and the supervisor does not give that student enough work during the downtime of that job (an example would be the person working at Gorham TV, who has to be there to change movie tapes and make sure the movie is running without problems) and the student chooses to do homework during this time, the federal guidelines require work-study students to be paid even if doing homework while working. This should only happen when the supervisor does not give the student enough other work to be done. I hope this clarifies any misunderstanding that people had, but if you have any questions about what was said, please call me at 874-6595.
Student Senate Business Manager
To the Editor:
I am writing about Aaron Paul’s latest installment of Smoke Your Breakfast titled “Who Got the hookup?” What I am curious about is who his intended target audience was. Did he expect people to believe he’s a respectable human being after reading this? Are guys supposed to think he’s cool and women supposed to want him? As a woman, all it does is show me that he doesn’t respect women enough to even say goodbye after having sex with them. Why on earth would that be attractive? He brags about being able to get all sorts of women to sleep with him and then get out of having to even talk to them again. Does he think women will be throwing themselves at him, trying to get used? If a woman did what he described she’d be called a whore, but he gets to write about it and share with a university community.
On the front page there’s an article on the outrage about a cartoon that showed violence against women. Yet it’s okay to have sex with a woman and then dump her as quickly as possible? Not to mention the fact that there is NO indication in his article about whether or not he practices safe sex, it just says that these escapades take place ” … usually on the tailend of a good old binge drinking session.” Obviously he’s not thinking with his head, at least not the one on his shoulders, but I would at least hope he’s smart enough to use protection.
Mr. Paul goes on to say ” … there is no way to get out of an uncomfortable situation without completely disregarding someone else’s feelings.” There is a way. It’s called, don’t get yourself into that situation, start a relationship, and get to know things about someone, for instance, their last name! I don’t know, maybe it’s supposed to be a joke, to show how stupid his way of thinking and living is. I should have known just from the name of his column that his article wouldn’t impress me. And from what I’ve heard about Mr. Paul, it would be next to impossible for the article to be truthful, maybe he’s just trying to make himself look good. If so, he should try another way.
Aaron Paul responds:
If you read last weeks installment, “Who got the hook-up” you will find that in no way did I intend to glorify promiscuous sex or cruelty towards women. The column was intended to reflect the uncomfortable situations that a one-night stand can create. The column never made a gender specific reference, and a few of the incidents referred to in the column did not happen to me but were compiled by close friends, one of them a female.
“Smoke your breakfast” is a humor column meant to represent those of us who are here to have a good time as well as study. If I am the only student at USM who feels this way, then I am more than obliged to fulfill the college stereotypes all by myself.