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Alligator

Haiti cartoon wasn’t meant to offend

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Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2010 11:40 am

A picture is worth a thousand words.

But 1,000 words is nothing compared to what the Editorial Board received when the Alligator ran Thursday’s sexToon, which depicted two people having sex on a table texting the word “Haiti” to the Red Cross.

Before we talk about anything else in this editorial, we would like to say one thing: We still have a lot to figure out.

After all, we are students.

However, we have a much bigger responsibility than most of the Student Body.

Don’t get us wrong — it’s an awesome one. We get to bring UF students and Gainesville residents their daily dose of local news, politics, entertainment and Gators sports.

When deciding to run that cartoon, we in no way wanted to make light of the situation that happened in Haiti.

Furthermore, we appreciate all of the fundraising efforts that have come from the Red Cross, UF organizations, the Salvation Army and any other person or group who has stepped up in this time of need.

We were simply trying to show how people have come together to help the Haitians in their time of need, as we do when we publish stories about the relief efforts of students — only with the cartoon, we were giving it a humorous spin. We understand that Haitians are dealing with a horrible tragedy, and we would never want to treat the situation insensitively. But despite the heartbreak, we see beauty in the way the world is coming together to help Haitians. Our cartoon was simply an acknowledgment of the fact that people are joining together to get behind a cause.

Alligator employees are standing behind Haitians as much as anyone else. The Avenue Editor wrote a guest column last week encouraging students to donate, and most of us have made personal donations.

We apologize if the execution fell a little flat, but the cartoon was certainly not malicious, and offense was never our intention.

We are an independent newspaper, and we rely on each other and ourselves to make good decisions and good choices.

However, we do not operate under the illusion that we are perfect. We want feedback, and we want to learn. We don’t look at the past with regret but as an opportunity to grow.

That’s why we created a special e-mail address where you can send your questions, comments and concerns: [email protected]

 This is not the place to harangue us. What you send here will not be published in the Letters to the Editor section. This is a place where you can send constructive criticism, suggestions, ideas, etc. and be assured that the editors will read it. We want to be as connected as possible to the Student Body, and the only way we can do that is to have an open pathway for you to access us.

Lay it on us.

That said, we would like to make it clear that we won’t be bullied into removing the sexToons completely.

And talking to our advertisers about our “smut magazine,” or e-mailing President Machen (yeah, someone really hates us that much) won’t scare us.

We may be independent from UF and distribute our paper to more people than just college students, but when it comes down to it, we are a college newspaper.

And college students have sex — not all of them, but a lot of them. You may not agree with it, and you may not participate, but it happens.

So if we want to publish a sexToon in the entertainment section, we will.

Welcome to the discussion.

3 comments:

  • MooseThompson posted at 12:17 pm on Wed, Jan 27, 2010.

    MooseThompson Posts: 70

    If you hate it so bad, quit buying the paper. Oh, wait, it's free. It's a college news paper, get over yourselves. The cartoon was humorous and the Alligator has the freedom to print whatever they please.

     
  • rydergirl1984 posted at 5:10 pm on Mon, Jan 25, 2010.

    rydergirl1984 Posts: 4

    The bottom line is that, in all actuality, we are talking about a newspaper run by children. It is best to keep that in mind when evaluating the "how" or "why" of things that are published.

     
  • montanacane posted at 1:15 pm on Mon, Jan 25, 2010.

    montanacane Posts: 1

    This is the biggest pile of bullsh*t the Alligator has turned out this year so far. Whoever wrote this must have been sleep-deprived, caffeine-deprived, or highly self-centered. The headline is "Haiti cartoon wasn't meant to offend" but nowhere in the article is an actual apology offered despite acknowledgment that many, many people were offended. Just because you didn't mean to offend doesn't mean you shouldn't admit you were off-base. The author says "we in no way wanted to make light of the situation that happened in Haiti" but later on declares "with the cartoon, we were giving it a humorous spin." Which is it - treating what has now been declared one of the worst modern disasters with dignity or presenting it in whatever way will get you the most attention, no matter the fallout? And you claim to have and enjoy the "awesome responsibility" of bringing news to the UF community, but shirk that responsibility by saying "we apologize IF the execution fell a little flat." Your readers have already told you - it DID. There's no "if" about it. Judging by the tone of the letters that have been published, there's no "a little" about it either. Sounds like the author of this article knew the Alligator staff blew it but still doesn't want to admit it. And, you rely on each other to make good decisions and good choices? Really? With that MO, it's extremely tough to believe the Alligator doesn't "operate under the illusion that we are perfect" or that they see this past incident "as an opportunity to grow." Being students and being an independent newspaper is no excuse, either. If you're going to talk the talk about being the best, largest college newspaper in the country, prove it by cleaning up your content and style when hordes of readers request that you do so. The best newspapers don't pout and sneer like defiant teenagers that they're going to continue publishing offensive material just because they can. They actually change their tone, their content or the way content is presented. They don't hide behind new feedback emails because the message has already gotten through. If nothing changes (and believe us, no one thinks it will), it's okay - after all, you're just students.