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ASUA Senate wrangles with 2nd 'offensive' Daily Wildcat cartoon

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 24, 1998
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Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Deaf studies junior Thor Halvorsen addresses the Associated Students about recent concerns in the Wildcat's Sept. 18 "Ecology 101" comic which he found insulting to the blind community. He wrote a letter to the editor ("Wildcat offends again") in the Sept. 21 Arizona Daily Wildcat regarding the offensive material.

The ASUA Senate last night fielded another complaint that the Arizona Daily Wildcat printed an offensive cartoon.

Thor Halvorsen, state coordinator of the Deaf Neighborhood Project, objected to the "Ecology 101" comic published in the Sept. 18 Wildcat., which depicted a "seeing-eye animal that didn't quite work."

The images Halvorsen found offensive included that of a blind man being led into the water by a turtle, and a man holding the leash of a fish in a bowl on a stand.

Halvorsen said he talked to several blind students who were offended by the comic, which prompted him to write a letter that appeared in the Sept. 21 issue.

"It is a big issue in respect to blind students. I feel, whether it intended or not to be offensive, (that) it did offend," Halvorsen told the Senate. "It implied that seeing-eye dogs aren't very bright. I felt that it discredited guide dogs."

Wildcat Editor in Chief Zach Thomas said he does not think the comic is an attack on guide dogs, but rather "an attempt at parody or satire."

"I think it's good that people are thinking about these things," Thomas said. "To me it says the paper is getting read."

Halvorsen said he wrote the letter with the help of several students, and that he felt the need to make the Senate aware of the issue.

Sen. JosuŽeacute; Lim—n lauded Halvorsen's action and encouraged others to do the same.

"It's good that you took the initiative to let the Wildcat know how you felt," he said. "Hopefully other students (who are offended) will take the same steps."

The controversy comes in the wake of another Wildcat cartoon that depicts two male bugs hugging, and being shot by an insect that called them "homos." The cartoon was condemned by the Senate earlier this month, culminating in ASUA President Tara Taylor signing an anti-Wildcat resolution.

Halvorsen said after the meeting that he is not "anti-Wildcat," and will remain a reader.

"I think the university newspaper is a good deal," he said. "My main goal was awareness. I was satisfied that they allowed me to speak my piece."

The Senate also floored a resolution that would have changed the name of the university's Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association (BGALA) to the Sen. Barry Goldwater Memorial BGALA. The proposal would have honored Goldwater for the late senator's support of gay rights.

The resolution was written by Travis Klein, an economics sophomore, who said he decided to write the resolution out of frustration because the Senate "hasn't done anything of interest (so far)."

The resolution was not seconded and therefore was not brought to a vote, which disappointed Klein and Sen. Marisa Hall.

Klein said although he didn't expect the resolution to pass, "it seems a bit on the fascist side." He said he was concerned that the Senate was not able to honor Sen. Goldwater with the name change.

Klein said he did not contact BGALA or the Goldwater family before the issue was put on the agenda by Sen. Marisa Hall.

Jacob Rigoli, BGALA member and former co-director, said that his organization did not necessarily oppose the resolution, but that he wished Klein had consulted the club beforehand.

"We're pleased that it didn't pass at this point," Rigoli said. "That is an issue that needs to be brought to us and voted on by all of BGALA."

Hall said she was told that Klein had contacted BGALA when she put the item on the agenda, and said she was upset that the issue did not even enter into discussion.

"I wish people would have an open mind and listen to opinions other than their own," Hall said after the meeting.

Erin Mahoney can be reached via e-mail at Erin.Mahoney@wildcat.arizona.edu.