Free speech or hate speech?
By: Henry Barajas
Arizona has been notorious for its total disregard for the First Amendment, but often the question is asked about when something is acceptable to print and when it isn’t. The Daily Wildcat, a student newspaper at the University of Arizona, is under scrutiny for running a comic strip that was seen to encourage violence against gay people.
After a petition of 8,075 signatures, with outcry from the LGBT community and its readers, the editor issued an apology and fired DC Parsons, the cartoonist responsible for the strip. In the apology Parsons stated,
“The comic was not intended to offend. The desired end means of my work is solely humorous.”
He says his comic etc. was a way for him to use
“…humor as a coping mechanism, much like society does when addressing social taboos. I do not condone these things; I simply don’t ignore them.”
It was based on an experience from my childhood. My father is a devout conservative from a previous generation, and I believe he was simply distraught from the fact that I had learned (from “The Simpsons”) what homosexuality was at such a young age.
I have spoken against censorship in comic books at the U of A for “Banned Books Week” and I don’t condone violence against gay people, but where do we draw the line between censorship and hate speech? Wouldn’t it be more effective to talk about this issue instead of chastising the person? This reminds me of the infamous stand-up routine that got Tracy Morgan in big trouble for joking about stabbing his son in the neck if he were gay. Today’s society has made it very clear that even if someone is ‘joking’ about encouraging violence against gay people on the internet (or anywhere) is unacceptable.
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas and Google+.