The University of Arizona is at the center of controversy after the publication of a cartoon in its student newspaper that clearly crossed the line between "edgy comedy" and "hate speech," leading to thousands of complaints and the cartoonist's dismissal from the paper.The Daily Wildcat ran a strip by DC Parsons last week in which a parent told his son that, if he ever told his father he was gay, the father would "shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off a bridge." The punchline, such as it was, was the son replying "Well, I guess that's what you call a 'Fruit Roll Up'." Funny...? Not so much, but definitely something that prompted an outpouring of protest, including an online petition to fire Parsons as well as the Wildcat's editor-in-chief and copy editor that has almost 9,000 signatures, leading to an apology from both the newspaper and Parsons himself.

The paper's official apology -- signed "The Daily Wildcat staff," instead of any one individual, oddly enough -- blamed the cartoon's appearance on "a serious error in judgment," calling its printing as "irresponsible to our readers" as "some readers felt [it] was homophobic and inappropriate." Parsons, meanwhile, defended the strip as an example of his "us[ing] humor as a coping mechanism, much like society does when addressing social taboos," explaining that the strip was actually based on an experience from his own youth. "My father is a devout conservative from a previous generation," he wrote, "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 do sincerely apologize and sympathize with anyone who may be offended by my comics (I am often similarly offended by 'Ralph and Chuck')," Parsons continued, "but keep in mind it is only a joke, and what's worse than a joke is a society that selectively ignores its problems." Yeah, that's right: Your lack of humor about strips where fathers threaten to kill their sons for being gay is the real problem here, world (Never mind the fact that there's not actually a funny joke in the original strip. "Oh, he said 'fruit'! I get it!" doesn't really pass muster, let's be honest).

Parsons has since been fired from the Wildcat, in response to the continuing outcry against the strip and insincere apologies offered for it. While this isn't the sort of thing that should end his cartooning career for good (It's idiotic and thoughtless, but I'm not sure it's necessarily malicious, as such), it'd be nice if, when he comes back -- if he comes back -- he's more conscious of both his comedy chops and the impact of his words outside of his own therapeutic desires.

[Via The Beat]

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