The Arizona Desert Lamp

Daily Wildcat gets a little zealous during spring cleaning

Posted in Media, Politics by Evan Lisull on 3 August 2009
Topmiller Cartoon

Preserved for the record.

Ben Kalafut of Goldwater State just had a stellar post on the First Amendment (or the lack thereof) at the UA, and in the comments pointed out that he was unable to find the infamous 2007 “mitzvah” cartoon by Joseph Topmiller.

For those of you who don’t remember or who weren’t around – think Keef-gate, but for the Jewish community. An offensive cartoon leads to cries of racism, which leads to calls for punitive action against the paper. The 2007 brouhaha had marginally more merit (you can read about it here), but it also resulted in the more drastic action of refusing to print any more of Topmiller’s comics.

Yet when it came to putting the issue behind them, the Wildcat interpreted the phrase a little loosely. The comic was printed on October 9 – however, when one views the comic page for that date, no such cartoon exists. Yet the rest of Topmiller’s cartoons – including those from October 10, October 11, and October 12 – are readily available.

For a paper of record, this is pretty reprehensible. Regardless of how much offense the cartoon may have caused, it was printed – to remove it at this point is an attempt to whitewash the paper’s history. Those reading the pieces on the cartoon can no longer look at the actual image and make a decision for themselves. Even if Mr. Topmiller had requested the comic’s removal, this action is still inexcusable. College papers have long rejected requests from former opinion writers who sought to have their more offensive material removed while searching for a job. The same standard should hold for any other creative work at the paper.

Arizona Student Media chair Mark Woodhams regularly comments here, so I’d be interested to hear from him – and any other Wildcatters – why exactly this comic was missing from its website.

Thankfully, Clio has once again been saved by Saraswati: the image of the cartoon has been preserved, by none other than the website Jewcy. At least they had the chutzpah to actually show the image that they were criticizing.

At any rate, the image can be viewed above- the Lamp, of course, has always opposed these censorious efforts, and this image will remain on this site so long as the site remains.

NB: The aforementioned Keef cartoon is also missing, but this seems to reflect a broader policy of not publishing any comics, beginning in the summer of 2008.

UPDATE: In the comments, Kyle catches the fact that the image originally came from Tucson’s KVOA’s story on the matter, which still has the image available. KVOA often gets overlooked in the media circles of Tucson, so props to them for prioritizing the news over political correctness.


Desert Lamp soon to close down

Posted in Media, Politics by Evan Lisull on 30 April 2009

Not our choice, but Linda Sanchez’s HR 1966 and the PC Police won’t have it any other way (HT: Volokh @ Volokh):

(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

(b) As used in this section–

(1) the term ‘communication’ means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; …

(2) the term ‘electronic means’ means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.

As supporters of federalism, we’re already skirting Secretary Napolitano’s fatwa against “right-wing extremists.” As soon as they find our “use of electronic means” to support “severe, repeated, and hostile behavior” towards various administrative and governmental forces – never mind the “distress” that our Fee Protection Pledge brought to several ASUA candidates – we’re toast.

It’s been a good run, folks. Thanks for your support. (In the real world, this bill has nowhere near enough support to get passed. But the fact that something like this could be proposed seriously, under the guise of preventing “cyberbulling,” is itself troubling.)

UPDATE: Sorry, this was a bit too dry – even for me. HR 1966 will not pass, and the Desert Lamp will not cease publication any time soon, deo volente.