Intent isn’t as important as clarity in the newspaper world. What you say isn’t as important as how you choose to say it. When discussing issues you need to keep the thoughts of your readers in mind.

This point is exemplified by a comic run in the Oct. 31 issue of the Campus Times. Chuck Zhang’s “Undersexed” depicted two individuals, one who was black and one white who were getting ready for Halloween. The black character was dressing in a Tigger costume and making a T-shirt that said “igger.” When the white character asks the black character, “What’s an ‘igger’?,” The black character responds by beating the white character and calling him a cracker. According to Chuck, his comic depicts something that happened with a black friend of his who was creating the costume because he “wanted to vent some anger” and Chuck decided to draw it because he thought the situation was funny.

While the original message of Chuck’s comic was not racist, it is easy to see why others interpreted it that way. Many people thought it was making a statement that blacks attempt to instigate whites and respond to situations with violence. They argued that the CT allowed this stereotype into our paper.

Editors at the CT, and more importantly myself, have a responsibility to make sure that our news is as objective as possible and that our reviews, opinions and comics convey their messages as clearly as they can. That does not mean that controversial statements can’t be made on our pages, it just means that we need to make sure that they are made as clearly as possible.

I will not apologize for the content of Chuck’s comic because we need to remain a free medium for everyone to express their views and opinions. I will apologize, to him and our readers, for his message not being as clear as it possibly could have been.

It was easily correctable. Simply, we could have suggested an added line that made it clear that this situation actually happened and we could have made the N-word less clear in the comic. This would have reduced, if not eliminated, the misconceptions surrounding the intent of the comic.

The CT does not and will not tolerate racist and derogatory statements. It is inappropriate for our paper to be used as a vehicle for such speech. While we do not condone racism, issues of diversity and race relations must remain within the limits of debate and discussion. We are a forum and we must remain free for people to bring up controversial issues and ideas.

Chuck’s comic needed clarity from us, which we did not provide, but that lack of clarity cannot preclude discussion of controversial issues.

Hildebrandt can be reached at editor@campustimes.org.



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