The price of professionalism, the cost of free speech
Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2012 15:03
The issue: Chronicle political cartoon receives criticism of anti-Semitism from offended professor
Our stance: Hiding behind a shield of false persecution is far more offensive than a comic strip.
Recently The Chronicle ran a political cartoon regarding the outcome of the PUC investigation into alleged racist and sexist comments made by tenured Associate Professor Maurice Eisenstein. This comic, which featured the professor manipulating a marionette administrator, caused Eisenstein to contact The Times accusing The Chronicle of printing anti-Semitic material. The Chronicle would like to clear the air regarding these allegations.
As with any political cartoon found in countless newspapers around the world, the intention was to boil a news story down to a satirical visual interpretation. While it is crucial for The Chronicle to remain unbiased in our reporting of campus news, pieces such as the comic in question are not subject to the same standards. They are the opinions of a single individual, and do not represent the newspaper as a whole. This is why opinion pieces come with a disclaimer.
Still, we at The Chronicle realize that simply attaching a disclaimer to something does not give us free reign to publish anything we like. Every opinion piece is subject to editorial scrutiny prior to being published. We stand behind Nikko Elliott's submissions, and trust his ability to judge exactly where the line separating satire and bad taste lies.
As for the cartoon in question, nothing in the comic mentioned Judaism in any direct way. In fact, the only thing referencing Eisenstein's Jewish background was the presence of a traditional kippah (cap) on his head. Given that Eisenstein has publicly cited this as a source of pride (in an NWI Times interview entitled, "PUC students protest professor's comments, Facebook page"), we fail to see how this could possibly incite cries of anti-Semitism.
We feel, as many students and faculty members have previously stated, that Eisenstein is using his religious background as a way of diverting the conversation away from the remarks he has made both online and in his classroom. Rather than defend or clarify his opinions, Eisenstein has instead labeled anyone who opposes him as a bigot.
There are people in this world who gleefully preach hatred based solely on the color of someone's skin, or for their religious views. If a person condemns someone because of what they are rather than who they are, that person deserves to be labeled as a bigot. It is a hideous, ugly word which signifies equal parts ignorance and evil. It is not a blanket statement to be thrown at anyone who happens to be offended by your world view. When everyone who disagrees with your opinion is an anti-Semite, then the only people left who are not bigots are mindless sycophants.
When Michael Vick or Chris Brown became media pariahs it was not because they were black; it was because their actions caused legitimate outrage. Granted, Eisenstein's comments did not break any laws, but in our eyes the situation is not that different. Hiding behind a shield of false persecution not only makes you look like a coward, it is also a slap in the face to every person who has been a legitimate victim of prejudice.
As always, it is our goal at The Chronicle to provide readers with the truth. We will continue to report on any significant developments regarding Eisenstein, just as we would with any other prominent news story: professionally and unprejudiced. We will not be silenced simply because one man would rather tarnish countless reputations than defend his beliefs.