GALA ND/SMC Response to Hate Speech in Anti-Gay Observer Cartoon

Note: This past Tuesday, a gay-bashing comic strip ran in The Observer. You can see the comic that ran in the paper, as well as the one that was originally rejected and the hateful conversation that transpired, here. GALA ND/SMC’s official response is below.

As officers of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA-ND/SMC) for the past two years, we have encountered people on campus who disagree with us on many issues. What we have not encountered from the student body, faculty, or administration is the lack of respect evidenced by the publication of this hateful cartoon from other members of the Notre Dame community.

This is not a question of free speech. If the editors weren’t concerned with community standards, they wouldn’t have rejected the first version of the cartoon. No, the decision to publish it demonstrates a serious lack of judgment and lack of commitment to the Catholic belief in human dignity and stance against violence.
We know that the cartoon does not reflect the feelings of a majority of the people on the ND campus; and we have been heartened by many of the responses appearing in the Observer. But this will hurt the university unless it is clear that Notre Dame does not tolerate violence against any members of its community.

The author and editors seem to have missed the point of a Catholic education if they cannot see that LGBT students, faculty, staff and alumni are indeed members of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s family and should be treated as such.

We make every attempt to share with people outside of campus the positive steps being made to improve the lives of the LGBT community at ND and SMC. Sometimes this takes convincing, even with our own membership. The publication of the cartoon is a prime example of why Notre Dame ranks first in The Princeton Review’s list of the most unwelcoming campuses for gay and lesbian students. The noise being generated by this will drown out any good news about the work being done by the students, faculty and Core Council. That’s not good news if you care about our university’s reputation.

The administration needs to take the lead in responding by holding panel discussions with the Observer, the faculty and the student body. GALA’s more-than-900 members are ready to join with the rest of the Notre Dame community in stating that the free flow of ideas can only occur if we respect each other.

Tom O’Brien ‘86, Michael August ‘96, Steven Saftig ’03, and Liam Dacey ‘04
GALA ND/SMC Officers