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Is this cartoon offensive?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.

Do you find the cartoon offensive?

Yes, definitely.
1
2%
Hmmm....maybe a bit.
3
7%
No way!
32
76%
Dunno.
6
14%
 
Total votes: 42

Message
Author
Maria Mac
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Is this cartoon offensive?

#1 Post by Maria Mac » November 14th, 2007, 5:33 pm

Another cartoon controversy - only this time it’s a cartoon featuring Richard Dawkins whose portrayal by cartoonist Martin Rowson as a “a grinning limp-wristed effeminate figure of fun” on the front cover of New Humanist magazine that has raised the hackles of atheists posting at richarddawkins.net. Protestors evidently see the cartoons as homophobic as well as insulting to Dawkins. Said one: “I really feel that this an anti-Dawkins cartoon because the artist feels that it is acceptable to mock the out'n'proud campaign by comparing it to the gay 'out' campaign, as if that compaign was somehow funny… Do people think that the portrayal of Dawkins in the persona of a campaigning but comic camp gay man is acceptable? Are gay people funny? Is it acceptable to portray gay people as conforming to an effeminate stereotype? Should one laugh at that stereotype? We live in societies where many religious people consider gay people not a figure of fun, but evil. I find this cartoon deeply offensive.”

Another objection seems to be the portrayal of Christopher Hitchens as..um...fat and ugly. Or fatter and uglier than he is in real life, at any rate. "This cartoon is aggressive and mean. I reserve fat jokes for people I truly despise," said another poster.

Well, here's the cartoon. Whaddya think?

Image

P.S. The New Humanist is a great mag. Subscribe!

Image

Edited to add: By the way, the cartoon is intended to illustrate the lead article by Richard Norman. Here's the standfirst:
New wave atheism is aggressively antagonistic to religion. But, argues Richard Norman, it's more fruitful to find common ground.

Jem
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#2 Post by Jem » November 14th, 2007, 5:37 pm

Hmmm….I can’t say it offends me as a gay man. I had a look at some of the comments and I’m wondering if most of the complainants are American. The reason I say that is that I often get the impression that American atheists feel under siege and are therefore more inclined to take offence at perceived piss-taking. I would imagine that’s doubly true of gay atheists.

para handy
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:39 pm

#3 Post by para handy » November 14th, 2007, 5:41 pm

I think it flatters Hitchens.


I can see why it might be offensive to Dawkins but I can't really see it as homophobic. I think the it makes him look like a wally rather than mincing and effeminate.

tehabwa
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Joined: October 20th, 2007, 12:30 am

#4 Post by tehabwa » November 14th, 2007, 5:55 pm

On the one hand, I can kind of see why making fun of someone by calling them gay is offensive to gays.

On the other, it's not really hate speech or anything.

As an American, I'm pretty serious about freedom of the press. As far as making Hitchens look worse than he does (a little), or making Dawkins look silly, public figures have to expect public ridicule now and then as part of the deal.

As far as my first point, is making fun of Hitchens by showing him as fatter than he is offensive to fat people? As one myself, I'm inclined to think "no."

Gee, now I want to change my vote from "dunno" to "no."

:exit:

tehabwa
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#5 Post by tehabwa » November 14th, 2007, 6:03 pm

Uh, your email mentioned outrage on Dawkin's site, but the link was to the home page.

Where is all the outrage over the cartoon?

GPJ
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Joined: August 1st, 2007, 5:35 pm

#6 Post by GPJ » November 14th, 2007, 6:06 pm

I voted "Yes" because I find ALL of Rowson's cartoons offensive. Many cartoons by others of the same ilk (Scarfe, Bell, etc) are also intentionally offensive. It's their style. It's the current fashion.

When I first saw the cartoon I thought the intention was to send up Dawkins' tendency to find "awe" in nature -- symbolised by bluebirds and daisies -- but rosy cheeks and sandals are definitely stereotypical "gay" indicators. And the "out" placard is a big clue!

Sandal-wearing was introduced to the UK by Edward Carpenter author of "The Intermediate Sex", an early socialist and homosexual campaigner (and a good poet).

By the way, the cartoon is not by itself. It is intended to illustrate an anti-Dawkins article. Humanists are their own worst enemies.
George Jelliss

Maria Mac
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#7 Post by Maria Mac » November 14th, 2007, 6:09 pm

GPJ wrote: By the way, the cartoon is not by itself. It is intended to illustrate an anti-Dawkins article. Humanists are their own worst enemies.
Thanks for reminding me, George. I should have said something about that in the OP. I'll edit it to do so.

Nick
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#8 Post by Nick » November 14th, 2007, 6:19 pm

I voted 'no way!'.

In his talk at the recent RDF conference, which can be seen on the RDF site (and is well worth watching btw), Richard himself made the connection between the tactics of gay rights campaigners and his atheist 'Out' campaign. The cartoon is merely an illustration of him adopting gay tactics to raise the atheist consciousness, as gays (and feminists) have done so successfully. As for being homophobic, that is ridiculous! For a start, a phobia is a fear, but that's not what homophobia generally means these days. Just how can a cartoonist portray 'gayness' without resorting to stereotype? A cartoon is often not very flattering, whether it is straight men, Scotsmen, Americans, Chinese, nuns or anyone else, but it is not meant to be a serious comment on any of them. It is IMO far ruder to Hitchens than to gays. And based on Dawkins conference speech, I think he would be amused by it, not insulted, as well as being pleased that his campaign was being publicised.

If I had been shown the cartoon out of context, I'm not sure I'd have recognised either character. Though I can see it now, I might have guessed Michael Hestletine and Geoff Capes.....

I was also a bit puzzled by the sandals. :puzzled: but have since been enlightened :grin:

Nick
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#9 Post by Nick » November 14th, 2007, 6:32 pm

Further to Maria's addition in the OP, I can equally imagine a caricature of Richard Norman, (whatever he looks like,) as a happy clappy christian or adorned with a variety of religious symbols from various religions. That's what cartoonists do. And that is what freedom of the press and freedom of expression is all about.

Noggin
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#10 Post by Noggin » November 14th, 2007, 6:34 pm

Nick wrote: Just how can a cartoonist portray 'gayness' without resorting to stereotype? A cartoon is often not very flattering, whether it is straight men, Scotsmen, Americans, Chinese, nuns or anyone else, but it is not meant to be a serious comment on any of them. It is IMO far ruder to Hitchens than to gays.
I have to agree with this. For another lovely Rowson caricature, this time of David Cameron, see here.
It is the still and silent sea that drowns a man. -- Old Norse Proverb

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jaywhat
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#11 Post by jaywhat » November 14th, 2007, 6:49 pm

I was going to say a lot of fuss about nothing
and something like, if you don't like cartoons don't look at them
or are humanists now jumping on the islamist band wagon and getting upset about depictions of our god,

but then dicovered that most comments (and the poll) show that most of us are perfectly happy about it.

tubataxidriver
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Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 10:39 pm

#12 Post by tubataxidriver » November 14th, 2007, 6:50 pm

Dawkins and supporters should have expected this - it is part of the political territory. What's the problem? He, his rather silly logo and his message are on the cover of the magazine. Success!

MalteseHumanist
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#13 Post by MalteseHumanist » November 14th, 2007, 6:55 pm

One has to have a good sense of humour to appreciate the caricature. Why not laugh at ourselves every once in a while. I wouldn't like to think that the cartoon would bother Dawkins or Hitchens.

Let's not act like the muslims who truly "raised hell" over cartoons some time ago.
"...when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong." - Richard Dawkins

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Alan C.
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#14 Post by Alan C. » November 14th, 2007, 7:01 pm

It's only a cartoon! I don't know what all the fuss is about. I've been reading the comments for the past 3 days.
tehabwa, you'll find it here here.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

tehabwa
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#15 Post by tehabwa » November 14th, 2007, 8:32 pm

Thank you Alan, the Ever Vigilant!

I've just signed up on Dawkins' site; perhaps I'll see some of you folks there.

Fia
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#16 Post by Fia » November 14th, 2007, 8:54 pm

No offence taken here - a cartoon by its very nature exaggerates and lampoons. It's their job.

Thought I'd read Richard Normans' article though. I guess it's here I come out as a Humanist not on the militant wing. He wrote:

"Humanism is more than atheism, it is about putting humanist beliefs and values into practice and trying to make the world a better place. And that is impossible unless we’re prepared to cooperate with others who share those values, including those for whom the values are inseparable from a religious commitment."

I wholeheartedly agree.

Bill Potts
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Joined: September 26th, 2007, 9:37 am

Offensive? Someone's kidding, right?

#17 Post by Bill Potts » November 14th, 2007, 9:12 pm

I found it delightful.

I first saw it a couple of days ago when someone recommended the article to me. The person doing so (Edd Doerr, President of Americans for Religious Liberty) didn't even mention the caricature.

Having met Dawkins (I had lunch with him during the 1996 American Humanist Association Conference in Atlanta) and having seen his participation (remotely) in various events since then (click on http://hagsa.org/videos and select the "Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins" clip), I strongly suspect he finds the caricature hilarious. His response, in the video clip, to some fairly strong criticism by Tyson (Director of the Hayden Planetarium) is delightful. I suspect he can accept satire just as readily as he can accept criticism, i.e., with humor and equanimity.

To those few who found the thing offensive, I can only suggest that you lighten up a little. As an active supporter of gay rights since the mid-1970s and, therefore, as one who's had contact with many gays, I'm fairly confident that very few intelligent gays would take offense at the gay rights analogy.

By the way, I never cease to be in awe of how well caricaturists capture the essential features and, although distorting them, leave us with no doubt as to who is being portrayed.
Bill Potts
Roseville, CA

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#18 Post by I Am That I Am » November 14th, 2007, 9:29 pm

After observing the lunacy that erupted around the Jyllands-Posten cartoons I would personally be embarrassed and a little disgusted with myself if I allowed myself to be offended by a drawing or a caricature. Funny or not, these things are not worth getting upset about. Free speech and freedom of the press are at issue. A sense of humour and a thick skin always serve us well, I think. :-)
AKA Mick

Maria Mac
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#19 Post by Maria Mac » November 14th, 2007, 9:43 pm

tehabwa wrote:Uh, your email mentioned outrage on Dawkin's site, but the link was to the home page.

Where is all the outrage over the cartoon?
:laughter:

tehabwa, the link I provided wasn't to the home page - it linked to exactly the same page as Alan linked to. However, I covered the link with the url of the main site and, with hindsight, I realise this was misleading.

Apologies - I've changed it now.

DougS
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#20 Post by DougS » November 14th, 2007, 9:49 pm

GPJ wrote:I voted "Yes" because I find ALL of Rowson's cartoons offensive. Many cartoons by others of the same ilk (Scarfe, Bell, etc) are also intentionally offensive. It's their style. It's the current fashion.

When I first saw the cartoon I thought the intention was to send up Dawkins' tendency to find "awe" in nature -- symbolised by bluebirds and daisies -- but rosy cheeks and sandals are definitely stereotypical "gay" indicators. And the "out" placard is a big clue!

Sandal-wearing was introduced to the UK by Edward Carpenter author of "The Intermediate Sex", an early socialist and homosexual campaigner (and a good poet).

By the way, the cartoon is not by itself. It is intended to illustrate an anti-Dawkins article. Humanists are their own worst enemies.
GPJ, I don't quite follow. That you find "ALL" of Rowson's cartoons offensive doesn't explain why you find this one in particular offensive. You pointed out the stereotypical gay indicators but what exactly is your point? Are you saying the cartoon is homophobic? If so, why? Or are you saying it's anti-Dawkins?

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