We commend the Editorial Staff’s intention to apologize for including “The Mobile Party” in your Jan. 13 edition. As you note, the publication of the cartoon was, indeed, an “egregious error in judgment.” However, the content of your apology continues to create concern. Referencing what you claim to be the regrettable acts of others (Sen. Reid) as you apologize for your own regrettable actions is an attempt to justify your actions, to make them seem more common, and therefore, less objectionable. As children sometimes say, “Yes, it’s wrong, but everyone does it! Why should I be the only one that gets in trouble?”
Your apology also fails to fully name the act for which you seek apology, and to show an understanding of the historical context here at Notre Dame. The problem with the cartoons is not just hate; the problem is hate against sexual minorities that we as a University community and as a Church walk a very, very fine line in addressing. That line is often writ so fine as to be lost or willfully ignored by too many of us. Too often, it is we Catholics and Notre Dame — and not the secular world that we are so quick to condemn — who give witness to our own fears and prejudices, rather than witnessing for the world the New Commandment: love one another as God has loved us.
The Observer seeks to move forward. Dropping “The Mobile Party” and accepting the resignation of one of your staff members are first steps. Your problematic apology and failure to appreciate the historically unwelcoming atmosphere for sexual minorities here at Notre Dame continue to cause concern. And attempting to move forward without University officials taking the opportunity to state boldly and publicly that hate and discrimination against sexual minorities are an affront to justice, let alone to the “Spirit of Inclusion,” would be an opportunity wasted. Rather than censor or impose stricter editorial supervision on The Observer, the University has wisely allowed those who created and those who allowed the cartoon to be published the opportunity to take full responsibility for their actions. But what is now lacking is the University’s pro-active leadership to ensure that Notre Dame is no longer topping lists for intolerance of sexual minorities.
Martin Luther King, a man who knew great hate and discrimination, explained “Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.” In honor of his witness, we take this opportunity to speak truth to the lie that sexual minorities are unequal members of our community. We ask the Editorial Staff and the University to do the same.
Sean B. O’Brien
Robin R. Rhodes
Sean T. O’Brien
Brian S. Collier
Members of the Notre Dame Progressive Faculty and Staff Alliance