Friday, March 21, 2003
Students protest cartoon of activist
Newspaper’s editors refuse to apologize for running it
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A sit-in continued for a second day yesterday over a college newspaper cartoon describing the actions of the Olympia peace activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer as the definition of stupidity.
The cartoon depicts a woman sitting in front of a bulldozer with the dictionary definition of the word “stupidity” listed below, along with an additional definition: “3. Sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists.”
Rachel Corrie, 23, a student at The Evergreen State College, was killed Sunday as she tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from destroying the home of a Palestinian physician. Witnesses said Corrie knelt in front of the machine, which kept coming and crushed her. The Israeli military said the driver didn’t see her in time.
More than 60 students gathered for a sit-in Wednesday after the cartoon appeared in The Diamondback, the student newspaper at the University of Maryland-College Park.
Setareh Ghandehari, an organizer of anti-war protests at the University of Maryland, said she and about 10 people remained outside the offices of the newspaper overnight Wednesday. They planned to intermittently protest the cartoon and the war in Iraq throughout the day yesterday, she said.
The newspaper printed an editorial yesterday saying it would not apologize for the cartoon, as demanded by protesters.
“Though many staff members objected to the cartoon’s viewpoint, the editors unanimously determined that by apologizing for the cartoon, we would call into question the First Amendment — a blessing from our forefathers every newspaper and every protester in America lives by,” the editorial said.
A telephone call and e-mail by The Associated Press seeking comment on the cartoon from the newspaper’s editorial staff and cartoonist Daniel Friedman were not returned yesterday.
In a letter published yesterday, Jay Parsons, the editor in chief of The Diamondback, said the newspaper had received thousands of e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls protesting the cartoon.
Parsons said he objected to the cartoon when submitted, but decided Friedman’s right to free speech outweighed his concerns.
“Friedman’s cartoons are often jarring and controversial, but clearly this one went further than any other. When he submitted his cartoon Tuesday evening, several editors and I had a brief discussion and some voiced disagreement with Mr. Friedman’s viewpoint.
“But ultimately, this decision was not about a viewpoint. The decision was about freedom of speech, and that made the decision easy,” Parsons said.
“Though the cartoon represents a radical view, The Diamondback’s editorial board believes wholeheartedly in freedom of speech. We would be hypocritical to revoke any speech on the grounds of radicalism.”