Saint Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance
Laurel Javors | Friday, January 15, 2010
To Colin Hofman, Jay Wade, Lauren Rosemeyer and Jenn Metz, Editor-in-Chief:
I am writing on behalf of the Saint Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance and all students standing for human dignity. Your comic strip from Wednesday, January 13 was offensive for two very serious reasons. It encourages violence against fellow Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s family members and it shows a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of Catholic teaching on the issue of homosexuality.
Whether or not you realize it, when you write such a comic, or in the case of the editor, allow it to be printed, you are responsible for the message it carries and what it implies. On October 7, 1998, a young man outside of Laramie, Wyoming was found bloodied, tortured and beaten into a coma. The two young men who committed this crime did so because Matthew Shepherd was a gay man. A few days later, he died from the injuries he sustained to his head from being beaten with the butt of a pistol. You may not like it but Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is a home to lesbian, gay and bisexual students. Your call as both a Christian and as a human being is to respect them. Making light of the very real threat of homophobic motivated hate crimes is a poor excuse for humor and a despicable action. I completely support and defend a person’s freedom of belief, expression and speech. However, when expressing that belief takes the form of language which encourages violence against a group of people, you have crossed a professional and ethical line. As journalists, you are expected to maintain a certain level of integrity. As Christians, you are called to truth.
This brings me to my most important point; that this comic opposes what the Catholic Church teaches surrounding the issue of homosexuality; Notre Dame is a Catholic school and therefore respects the dignity of all humans as the crown of God’s creation. According to the document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in its pastoral letter Always Our Children, the Catholic Church teaches that, “Nothing in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes or behaviors … We call on all Christians and citizens of good will to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons” (emphasis my own). Further, Jesus preached a gospel of tolerance and acceptance. Our Christian faith can be summarized in a single word- love. Regardless of your personal stance regarding homosexuality, you are called to love your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as children of God. Calling something a “comic” when it suggests beating a homosexual into a permanent vegetative state with a baseball bat is a far cry from Jesus’ radical call to love.
It may be a joke to you, but to members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community, it is a constant reality that there are people out there who would harm us for who and what we are. Something like this would never be allowed to be published if it was directed at a religious, ethnic, racial or cultural minority. What makes this any different? Advocating violence toward a group of people and passing it off as a joke demeans the inherent dignity of all people created in the Divine loving image of God.
Saint Mary’s Gay and Straight Alliance