The week before break, the Review decided not to run a cartoon by Kevin McShane. Less than 24 hours later, McShane duct taped himself to a wall.
It's hard to ignore a man taped to a wall claiming his constitutional rights have been violated. Condemning free speech is akin to disliking puppies and small children.
Contrary to McShane's claims, the Review is very much in favor of free speech. Free speech is, of course, part of the first amendment, an amendment that journalists hold dear. As a free press, we have the right to choose what we publish. We chose not to run McShane's cartoon.
McShane chalks up our decision as censorship. We call it editing. We routinely reject articles, photos and cartoons that we feel do not meet our standards. It would not be responsible journalism to do otherwise. As a staff cartoonist, McShane is subject to our editorial decisions.
We felt McShane's representation of violence against women was offensive. We felt his humorous treatment of that violence was degrading. If we had seen a political or social objective to McShane's cartoon we would have thought differently about not running the cartoon. Editing a political viewpoint is very different from editing gratuitous and offensive violence.
For example, in the Nov. 21 Review McShane's cartoon made several references to pornography, something which we believe degrades women. In that cartoon, however, we felt that McShane was making a larger point about Oberlin students and their hypocrisy. In that case we did not edit the cartoon because we thought he was making a large social commentary and did not want to censor that idea.
If killing Lucy by kicking off her head was part of a greater point, we are sorry that we missed it. Perhaps it should have been communicated in a less offensive manner.
We do provide space for all viewpoints, no matter how offensive, in our Commentary section. We do not edit, cut, or in any way alter material submitted to our Commentary section. We publish every letter we receive unless they are libelous.
In addition to the comic strip's offensive content, it was also in violation of federal copyright law. Newspapers are not strictly regulated in this country, but rules do apply. We cannot publish anything libelous, nor can we steal trademarked material. McShane's cartoon was guilty of copyright infringement.
It is our fault that McShane was not notified before noon on Friday. We decided to cut the cartoon on Friday morning, two hours before our deadline. We should have called McShane to inform him of our decision. However, Friday morning tends to be a hectic and busy time in the Review office. We typically call contributors over the weekend to explain our editorial decisions, which we are always happy to discuss.
We stand by our decisions not to run the cartoon and will continue to hold our staff to a standard of journalism that we find responsible.
Hanna Miller is a college senior and Editor-in-Chief. Susanna Henighan is a college junior and Fall semester Managing Editor.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 13, February 6, 1998
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