March 30, 4pm, Arts 146.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
Tonight on Shaw (not sure what time). The program should be repeated this weekend as well. I don't think there's much coverage on us, I think that the interview was mainly with Liam, but let me know how it turns out if you catch it (I don't have cable).
The Sheaf AGM has been pushed back to March 30. Room still TBA, more details as they come.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I am writing to express my deep concern over your decision to remove Will Robbins as the Editor-in-Chief of your paper.
I understand that The Sheaf has been through a week of crisis management since the publication of the Capitalist Piglet cartoon which was published mistakenly. But I cannot believe for a second that letting go of Will Robbins will do anything to deal with this situation. It will not appease those who would like to see the paper shut down, and will leave you, the staff and board of the sheaf, short on time, experience, ideas and leadership to deal with this situation and respond to those who are raising concerns.
Furthermore, as an important independent voice for students on this campus, I think The Sheaf is making a mistake by caving to the pressure that was stirred up by media and political actors such as John Gormley, and University Administration such as Peter MacKinnon. Gormley and MacKinnon do not pay fees to the Sheaf like students do. We should not give them the power to influence decisions like this.
Certainly, an apology for running the cartoon was warranted, but I am extremely disappointed that The Sheaf made this rash decision to force out Will Robbins. I hope that you will think through any further response to this issue more carefully so that the integrity and independence of your paper continue for many years to come.
4th year Arts and Science Student
Susan T. Gardner
North Vancouver, BC
John Stewart Mill, in his famous monograph On Liberty made the foundational argument for the freedom of speech by arguing that ultimately exposure to varying and opposing positions will promote truth. In Utilitarianism he also famously argued that we all ought to act so as to “promote the greatest good for the greatest number” (and he thought access to truth would do that). For Mill, the default value ought to be freedom of speech and that, therefore, the onus lies with those who want to curtail freedom of speech to make an argument for why there should be an exception. Mill summarily dismissed “offensiveness” as grounds for censorship as most people find opposing views offensive yet it is precisely the presence of opposing views that fuels movement toward truth.
The most powerful arguments for exceptions to freedom of speech find their anchor in Utilitarianism itself. That is, if there is an instance in which speech dramatically and obviously threatens the “greatest good for the greatest number,” it ought to be curtailed. The example of yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre is obvious and crude but it can be used as a touchstone for measuring the legitimacy of any call for censorship. Yelling “fire” when there is no fire obviously prompts behaviour that will be destructive. Any other kind of speech that promotes obviously destructive behaviour, e.g. racist propaganda, likewise can be legitimately curtailed. The important point here is whether or not the speech actually condones or promotes unacceptable behaviour. Thus, Schindler’s List talks about racism, it does not condone it, the nightly news talks about violence, it does not condone, and hence neither of these is legitimately curtailed. (Note: There is merit in the recent punishment of a “Holocaust denier” as an instance in which freedom of speech was not legitimate since knowledge that the Holocaust actually took place may be the only thing that will prevent its reoccurrence.)
There are, of course, some notoriously tricky grey areas, such as violent and degrading heterosexual pornography. Many civil libertarians tend to side with the view that hard-core porn is mere entertainment and may actually decrease violent tendencies by providing an outlet. Others side with the “advertising model” that it promotes a less-than-optimal attitude toward women that results in society’s inability to get a handle on the violence that women chronically suffer at the hands of men. This latter view can be furthered nuanced by making it “contextual.” That is, it can be argued that violent and degrading pornography finds its power in the context of women already occupying an “oppressed position.” If this were not the case, if we lived in a society in which genders were genuinely equal, violent and degrading porn would/could result in no real harm (which is why it can be argued that homosexual porn that is consumed by homosexuals who generally approach one another in relative equality is a different case).
The recent publication of “obscene” Muslim and Christian cartoons fulfill no criterion for legitimate censorship. Neither condones violent and destructive behaviour. In fact their message is quite the reverse. On the one hand, the bomb image suggests to Muslims that they ought to work hard to curtail violence if they don’t want their religion viewed as a violent one. On the other, the Christian/capitalist/sex comic suggests that Christians ought to look seriously at the odd connection between capitalist wealth and Christian fundamentalism. If this were a world in which “the point” of freedom of speech was cherished, both comics would provoke at least some individuals to take a good look at the disturbing distortions that their respective religions may be undergoing. If that happened, these comics would be doing precisely what Mill argued was the benefit of freedom of speech. It would be prodding people out of their complacency and putting them in a position to have to analyze whether or not there might be “some truth in them there hill.”
It may be that confusions abound with regard to what should and should not be considered legitimate exceptions to the default value of freedom of speech because we have lost sight of the value of freedom of speech, and hence few can make a coherent defence in its name. There is no value in freedom of speech per se. If we all find opposing viewpoints just so much background noise, and if everyone only listens to those with whom they already agree (note a recent study that found that the internet is actually solidifying intolerance because people only access cites that mirror what they already believe), then the value of freedom of speech will have lost. Freedom of speech has value only insofar as it prompts the reanalysis of positions with the view to acquiring a more accurate and unbiased view of any given situation.
The long and the short of it is that while a free press may not be as strong an impetus as it should be in promoting truth and democracy because of the tunnel vision of its readers, nonetheless, it remains a beacon of hope—perhaps the last real beacon of hope—that truth will ultimately prevail and, with it, “the greatest good for the greatest number.”
These comics ought not to be censored because, though “obscene” and “insulting” to many, they do not advocate harm in any way. On the contrary, they may not only shock some of the participants of the respective religions to have a look at the disturbing trends that are growing within their midst and to thus save the ideologies that they cherish, they may also prompt all of us to look at the disturbing trends that are growing in our limping democracies and thus prompt all of us to the save the way of life that we love by reinvigorating our allegiance to the value of the freedom of speech.
There should be a small snippet on 'Support the Sheaf' on Global tonight at 6. I have all the media savviness of a turnip so it'll be interesting to see how we're portrayed. One question they asked me that really threw me was, "Do you think the person responsible for this cartoon should be disciplined?"
This had honestly never occurred to me as even a potential course of action, so I had no idea how to respond. My first instinct was to say, "What, like cutting off his hand?" because punishing someone for creating controversial material seems to be in complete violation of our charter of rights and freedoms. Even if discipline was an appropriate response to the cartoon, I don't see how it could be done in such a way that wouldn't be viewed as a threat by every student at the U of S to not write/draw/sing/sculpt or otherwise express anything controversial. So for the record, no, I don't think Mr. MacDonald should be punished.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Thank you for considering this issue with an open and rational mind.
Errors were undoubtedly made on the part of the editorial and production staffs of The Sheaf, as well as by myself (the writer/artist of the recent edition of Capitalist Piglet), but this is in no way representative of what all of the good people who have been involved over the years have believed in and worked to create.
Despite all of the attacks and criticism it has received, The Sheaf continues to enjoy the support of the vast majority of the community, and is certainly an important institution to maintain. Freedom of speech and of the press have both been questioned here, but it is important to consider this: these freedoms are only questioned in times where our beliefs are challenged or provoked, and in such times, we do not come to judgment under rational mind.
It is important that when you think about the future of The Sheaf, you are thinking with clarity, and not acting in haste. Trying to shut the important, empowering, and historic institution which is our campus newspaper is a hastily considered reaction, and would do nothing to further the spirit of intellectual freedom which is necessary for any healthy academic institution.
Rather than attempting to do harm to something which belongs to all of us as students, instead make efforts towards positive change. Get involved, write something, draw something, say something and do something, but do not destroy something which is a part of all of us as members of the student body.
Please people, accept that the comic which has been negatively received by so many of us was an error of judgment and was intended to foster growth rather than discord.
Friday, March 10, 2006
To whom it may concern,
I am writing because I am deeply disturbed by the events of the pastweek. No doubt you realize that I am referring to the publishing of thecartoon “Capitalist Piglet”, and the resulting backlash. It can not be denied that the inclusion of this cartoon in the Sheaf was hypocritical in light oftheir refusal to publish other cartoons with similar subject matter, namelythe “Mohammed” cartoon. It was also in very bad taste given its explicitly lewdnature. However, what I find most troubling is the suggestion that this shouldresult in any sort of boycott or closure of the sheaf. I believe that the sheafis an extremely important source of independent media, and that it is thenature, indeed the purpose, of independent media to publish matter which isdeemed controversial and in some cases even offensive. It is for this reasonthat the call to silence the Sheaf due to the contentious nature of itscontents seems like an attempt at censorship to appease particularly vocalinterest groups, more closely resembling the climate of communist era Russiathen our democratic nation. I am also deeply shamed at the lack of movement tosupport our right to independent media, which smacks of both apathy andcowardice. Does the sheaf require improvement? Yes. Did the staff of the papershow poor judgment by publishing the cartoon? Of course. Should the Sheaf beshunt down for exercising its right to freedom of the press? Absolutely not.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
As a former University of Saskatchewan Student and alumni of the University of Saskatchewan I am writing to express my opinions on the so-called controversy that has erupted over the cartoon that appeared in last week's addition of the Sheaf newspaper.
As I do agree that the cartoon was over the top and offensive and probably should not have appeared in the newspaper, I do also feel that some of the reaction I've been hearing on campus and on certain call-in radio shows is also over the top. The paper has apologized and that should be sufficient. Calling for the paper to close, the editor to resign, or any other drastic and reactionary things to happen will not help resolve the current controversy. The staff and board should work to ensure that they follow their guidelines in the future. Mistakes happen and I want you to know that there is a group of people out here in the public that do not support drastic measures when a simple retraction and apology is enough.
Take a step back. Think before you act. This is a time for good leadership, not knee-jerk reactions.
Graduate of the University of Saskatchewan (2001)
Alright, so this is our baby blog which will hopefully help shed light on the other side of this issue, which is being adequately but erratically covered through comments in other blogs, Wayward Reporter, Empty Calorie and others.
I've struggled a lot with why this is so important to me. With apologies to Will, Jeremy and other past and present Sheaf staff, I'm not actually a huge fan of the Sheaf as it currently is - I frequently find the commentaries in it either blatently offensive or smug and self-congratulatory (I want to further clarify this by saying that Jeremy's and Will's pieces were what made me pick up the Sheaf every week). I still remember when I first moved to Saskatoon, I picked up a copy of the Sheaf and there was an article on why overweight women shouldn't wear low-rise jeans. Through the Sheaf, I've had the privilege of corresponding with a gentleman who wrote an article detailing why women entering the medical profession will eventually lead to the downfall of society as we know it (as a woman in veterinary medicine, this was interesting for me to learn). I've had some angsty navel-gazing sessions where I've pondered why this means so much to me and why the threat of the Sheaf going under or even being annexed by an angry vocal minority worries me so much.
And I think what it comes down to is love - the fierce love I have for this university and this city. I grew up in a fairly sheltered existence on Vancouver Island, and moving to Saskatoon and the U of S was quite a shock. I am still enraptured with the unique environment that the U of S is with students coming from a mix of highly urban areas like Saskatoon and Regina to rural communities that don't have their own post-office, from fourth generation Saskatchewan residents to international students. The spectrum of ideas and beliefs here is so much greater than anything I experienced back home, and the Sheaf is one of the mediums connecting all of these ideas and beliefs. I believe in the spirit of independent media, and even if I'm reluctant to read 80% of what they publish, I support the Sheaf for keeping our student government, faculty and administration accountable, for discussing issues that mainstream media won't touch, and for connecting students like nothing else on our campus can. This is one of the reason I was so grieved to hear that Will Robbins was forced to resign. Most of the anti-Sheaf communications have come from individuals outside the university sphere. The Sheaf's legitimacy as an independent source is severely compromised by their acquiesence to the voices it is meant to stand out against.
Support the Sheaf. Come out to the AGM on Thursday, March 23 (time and location to be announced soon) and stand up for independent media. Write to the Sheaf at email@example.com and let them know that you support independent media.
I as many others in the campus community are very confused with today's publication
of the Sheaf newspaper. The acting editor-in-chief has published a letter on the second
page of today's Sheaf that claims to be the resignation letter of Will Robbins, the
former editor-in-chief. The only problem is that on a popular U of S blog (http://waywarddocuments.blogspot.com/2006/03/sheaf-editor-in-chief-resignation.html) there is a totally different letter posted that claims to be the actual letter of resignation that was accepted by the board on Monday night. Interesting that I have also found out by talking to many students close to the former editor-in-chief that the letter contained in the blog is in fact the letter that was accepted by the board as the letter of resignation of Will Robbins. So, why did the Sheaf publish the wrong letter?
It looks like the Sheaf is attempting to damage control an ever-increasing storm of controversy and that they have gone so far as to deny their former collegue his last chance to set the record straight. It is also interesting that in the letter copied below it is very obvious that Will Robbins was actually forced from his position by his collegues. It seems as though the Sheaf staff that remain at the paper did not want us to know that Will Robbins was forced from his position. It also seems as though they did not want us to know that Will Robbins had actually wanted to stay in the leadership of the paper and that he had wanted to work with the team to repair the damage done to the paper.
The response from the remaining staff at the Sheaf was mismanaged and incoherant. This led to all of the facts around the publishing of the cartoon not being disclosed in a timely manner to the media and did significant damage to the image of the Sheaf newspaper and to its editor-in-chief, Will Robbins. Maybe it would have been a good idea to continue to work together instead of turning on the leader at such a crucial time. Maybe it would have been smart to keep the boss around when true leadership was needed. Forcing Robbins to resign and then attempting to cover up the coup are both unforgiveable offences.
Robbins should never have been forced to resign. The board of directors should have never accepted his resignation which was obviously made under duress.
Here is the Letter from waywarddocuments.blogspot.com:
The Sheaf Editor-in-Chief resignation letter
Last week, the Sheaf published the comic strip “Capitalist Piglet,” which has understandably provoked a torrent of angry response from the U of S community. Let me begin by making clear that it was not my intent to offend or hurt anyone and offer my sincere apology for the distress that this cartoon has caused. Let me also be clear that this cartoon’s inclusion was not a decision made by our editorial staff in order to test free speech boundaries, nor to deride religious sentiment. Its inclusion was, in its entirety, a mistake.
The comic was brought to my attention during our editing process and I asked that it be removed from the paper. However, due to miscommunication during our editing process, this was not done. As the Editor-in-Chief of the Sheaf, it was my responsibility to ensure that this comic was removed prior to the publication of our last issue and I take full responsibility for the fact that this did not occur.
We here at the sheaf are student journalists, regular students without J-school degrees and the luxury of the full oversight processes that professional papers offer their staff, but still very passionate about the idea and role of the alternative press. This affords us some unique possibilities in terms of pursuing ideas, stories, or even modes of production that are most definitely valuable. It also limits us in some respects and leads to the inclusion of errors in publication in ways that would not occur elsewhere in the professional press.
Some of our errors are small, and can be forgiven or dismissed as part and parcel of the learning curve for student journalism. Other mistakes are far more serious and need proper redress in order to maintain student journalism’s integrity and place as a proper part of the Press, and to regain the trust and confidence of the reading community that we serve. The erroneous inclusion of this comic strip is clearly one of the latter cases.
Throughout my tenure as Editor of the Sheaf, I have tried very hard to steer this paper into more thoughtful waters. I feel that, up until our last week’s issue, this year’s Sheaf had been a very open, intelligent, reasonable, and tolerant forum for all manner of debate and discussion surrounding issues important to this campus community; sometimes full of passionate disagreement, but always respectful of other’s positions.
In particular, I feel, and I think justifiably so, extremely proud of our February 23rd issue which dealt with the depiction of the Prophet Mohammad in the international press. With that issue, the Sheaf set up an implicit understanding with our readers that, even if we had not treated issues surrounding religious tolerance with the proper amount of thought and respect in the past, we would certainly do so in the future.
That we have so egregiously violated that standard only a week later is particularly distressing to me, and must be far more so to the community that we serve. Despite the unintentional nature of this violation, it is well within the range of the reasonable for the U of S community to ask that we offer redress.Again, I wish to convey my regret at the inclusion of this comic in our paper, and to offer my most sincere apologies to any and all who were offended or hurt by its publication. There are many members of our campus community who have suffered the injustice of derision of their fundamental beliefs as a direct result of my mistake, and I assure you that I will work to mitigate and repair that damage to the best of my ability to do so.
There is a tradition within the journalistic community that when an error of this sort happens, the person at the top of the ladder is supposed to fall on their sword, for the good of the paper. The idea seems to be that slinking away headless will somehow right the wrong committed, as if any injustice perpetrated can be solved with just a little bit of someone’s blood. Personally, I feel that actually repairing the damage done by this mistake on the part of the sheaf and myself is a far more useful solution.
As I said earlier, I think that student journalists have a unique position outside of the mainstream press in that they can critically analyse the entire project of the professional press from an outside position. In the case of this particular tradition, I personally think that far more useful reparations for our mistake can be made by actually going out and doing the work of restoring the confidence of the student body in its newspaper, actually apologizing to the people who deserve apologies. I would feel like I was shirking the real work to be done here if I simply abdicated responsibility and resigned.
However, the rest of my staff disagrees with me on this notion. While it might be the case that my position is technically the head of the paper, in truth we work very much like a collective, and this lack of confidence in my views here by the rest of the staff is a serious matter. Given that they can see no useful role for me to play in their own attempts to rectify this situation, I am forced, unwillingly, to resign after all.
To access the version that appeared in the Sheaf please go to www.thesheaf.com and click on this week's edition. The letter is on page A2.
I would like to write in support of the Sheaf and it's editorial staff. While I do not condone the publication of the cartoon, I feel that the editors did not condone it either. In my opinion, this year's editorial staff has done an excellent job bringing fresh, balanced and important viewpoints to the student body. I am pleased to note consistent efforts to bring new, and previously under reported, viewpoints to the paper.
I feel very strongly that the Sheaf is the target of an unfortunate campaign designed for political and commercial gain. I do not feel that it is appropriate for a radio station to raise it's commercial advertising value by spreading false information regarding a non-profit, student-run newspaper.
Given that a genuine apology has been made and well-publicized, I look forward to a strongly worded statement from the University of Saskatchewan in defense of it's institutions of public discourse, democracy and community. It is vital that we do not use this mistake as opportunity to widen the chasm of misconceptions but as an opportunity to show a common
truth: we all make mistakes.
It is my hope that the University of Saskatchewan will not make a genuine error of judgement by reducing this mistake to a matter of blame. Responsibility has been fully and readily acknowledged.
This is an opportunity to reflect on the tensions that already exist within our community and work co-operatively towards a place of better understanding.
"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes".
Thanks for your consideration,
I write this letter in complete disbelief, although not at the cartoon many people are talking about. The cartoon can be characterized at best as inappropriate; however, I am in disbelief over the internal steps taken by the Sheaf and its Board since the cartoon issue has hit the major media, namely the Board's acceptance of the letter of resignation by
editor-in-chief Will Robbins.
As I have always understood it, the independent media, including student newspapers, have served two major functions. First, to be the strongest defender of freedom of the press, and secondly, to effectively fill journalistic gaps left by the mainstream media. While the publishing of the Capitalist Piglet cartoon, particularly following the decision not to run the Mohammad cartoons, was a mistake, it is within every right of the paper to do so. Independent media has always been and should continue to be controversial. While this is not an excuse for the promotion of hateful messages, the issue at stake here is of a publishing error that has been apologized for, rather than unrepentant spread of anti-Christian messages. This means that even had the decision of running the cartoon been made by the editor-in-chief and not an oversight, it would not be, in and of itself, sufficient grounds for dismissal. Absolutely no policy was violated.
Secondly, the U of S needs the Sheaf to report effectively on issues on and around campus that would otherwise not be reported on. We cannot afford to lose this medium for connecting students. Student apathy is a crisis on this campus, as it is on most others. The most effective method to deal with campus apathy is communication through the student newspaper. Several people have taken issue with the quality of that reporting. I challenge them to do something proactive about it and begin to volunteer for the Sheaf. Certainly the answer is not to remove the leadership of the paper. This will only degrade the quality and increase questions of the papers effectiveness and ultimately legitimacy.
When calling for action on this issue I would sincerely hope that people remain rational. Depending on who you talk to, the cartoon published last week ranges from tasteless to offensive and while that is an issue that needs to be addressed, our campus community must understand the fundamental importance of an effective student paper. The efficacy of the Sheaf is severely compromised by the decision to accept the forced resignation of the editor-in-chief, Will Robbins. I sincerely hope that reason prevails and this decision is reviewed.
Students can still make a difference on this issue by doing two things: 1) Support the Sheaf. Independent media is essential in a university community that is promoting freedom of thought, expression and information. We can't afford to lose this valuable resource. If you find the content offensive, change it, students have that power 2) Let the Sheaf know that they made mistakes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them that accepting the resignation of Will Robbins is the largest mistake that could be made and a blow to the legitimacy of our student paper.
6th Year Student
Arts and Science
University of Saskatchewan
The "Capitalist Piglet" cartoon that was published in the March 2nd edition of the Sheaf was a tasteless mistake. I am concerned by the Sheaf's response to this mistake.
The resignation of the Editor-in-Chief is not an appropriate response to this public outcry. The responsible action would be to retain our Editor-in-Chief, as Sheaf leadership is needed to repair the reputation of our university's newspaper. The Editor-in-Chief's resignation is not a step towards a solution.
There has been discussion of the abolishment of the Sheaf. Students such as myself rely upon the Sheaf to provide independent media coverage. It would be to the detriment of students and Saskatoon residents to lose the Sheaf.
I encourage the Sheaf staff and board to work together with the Editor-in-Chief to provide an appropriate formal apology for inappropriate material, repair the integrity of the Sheaf, and continue providing quality independent coverage. As a student and a member of your readership, I would prefer to see constructive solutions to this problem, rather than ineffective reactionary decisions.
5th Year University of Saskatchewan Student
This is an enquiry e-mail via http://www.thesheaf.com from:
I wish to object in the strongest possible terms to the extraction of a resignation from Will Robbins. From what I understand, considerable pressure was exerted on him to resign and therefore it cannot be considered a legitimate resignation. I urge the Sheaf board to reconsider that issue and also the wider issue of the cartoon. It is distressing indeed that President MacKinnon has entered the fray because academic freedom, which accrues to students as well as faculty, and freedom of speech and expression, which apply to all of us, are under threat by his intervention. I therefore urge the Sheaf board to reconsider its position on the cartoon and to strongly assert the right to publish it unhindered by any pressure from the President or anyone else. Please ask yourselves this question: Will you succumb to pressure whenever you take a controversial stand? If so, there is, unfortunately, little rationale for having a student newspaper that is independent of the USSU.
Professor of Law and Member of the Executive Committee, University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association.
Journalism is a discipline of collecting, verifying, reporting and analyzing information gathered regarding current events, including trends, issues and people. Journalism, in reporting the facts, is also concerned with the search for truth. Regarding the controversies that have been recently surrounding the University of Saskatchewan’s student newspaper, the Sheaf, I feel that this ultimate search for truth has been obscured by poor reactions on behalf of my fellow students as well as university personnel. The issue has become more than just a comic of undeniably poor taste; it has become a politicized issue that has divided observers to the truth of the matter.
Peter McKinnon’s email was the real “poor judgment” in this case, not any editorial decision. The comic received print space due to a communications error and was never intended to see print. By bringing this issue to the attention of everyone as a case of poor decision-making, the true story has largely been withheld from the general student populace. Reporting the issue as more than it is, as an attack on religion and personal beliefs is hardly the truth of the matter.
There has been talk of a full out attack on the Sheaf, from both students and non-students. These attacks range from taking the mandatory fees of the Sheaf off of students fees, to shutting down the Sheaf altogether, and in some extreme cases, threats of violence.
The Sheaf is a valuable University institution. Aside from being a free classroom in a University that has no journalism program, it provides the students with a voice, a forum in which to rally under and a place for our individual and collective truths. We need to feel safe in searching for our truths and the University is one such institution that provides us with that
space. By removing the student newspaper, you will only inflict more harm than good.
Please don’t let this error affect your reason. The Sheaf apologizes for the severity of the error, not as a malicious attack or political agenda, but as a genuine mistake in which we can all learn from.
The Editor of the Sheaf, Will Robbins, had to learn the hard way, at the price of his position as well as attacks on his reputation and his family.
Knee jerk reactions do nothing to save grace. Getting to the truth of an issue is and has always more valuable than the placing of blame and punishment. We can be appeased by the truth of the matter, not by making more people suffer needlessly.
Please keep your minds and hearts open in your search for the truth.
4th year Arts and Science student
The resignation of Will Robbins over the publication of an arguably unfortunate cartoon is a regrettable over-reaction and ominous indicator of a deepening chill on this campus. An apology might be in order, and/or a retraction in the next issue of the paper. But surely nothing more. If, however, it is true that Mr. Robbins' resignation was forced upon him as the result of external pressure, and that a campaign is underway to shut down The Sheaf itself, then one has to wonder what has become of students' rights to academic freedom and freedom of speech and expression.
As for the President's intervention, using a communicative capacity actively denied to others on this campus, it was neither necessary nor helpful. It seemed as much an attempt to save the U of S "brand" from the "taint" of controversy as an effort to defend the sensitivities of people perfectly capable of thinking for themselves and making their views plain in the columns of The Sheaf and elsewhere. I may be wrong about this; but, equally, the President may be wrong about the cartoon. At least I am certain The Sheaf does not owe me an apology.
The cartoon is a complex amalgam of image and text, and it could be read as a salutary provocation--provoking the viewer to consider, again, connections between Christianity and capitalism and between Christianity and human sexuality. I happen to think that it is a rather inept gesture in the direction of both those timely and complicated topics. But I can see how others would react both more negatively and more positively than I do to "Capitalist Piglet." They ought to have the right to do so without having their voices pre-empted, especially on a university campus where difference ought still to be distinguishable from division, challenge from outrage.
Please re-install your excellent editor-in-chief while maintaining your independence in a world where consent is relentlessly over-managed and self-censorship promoted as the cure for curiosity and disquiet.
Len Findlay, Professor of English