Capitalist Piglet

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Capitalist Piglet was a comic strip which appeared briefly in The Sheaf during 2005-2006, and is best known for a controversial installment depicting Jesus Christ performing fellatio on a cartoon pig.

Creation[edit]

The strip was a collaboration between cartoonist Mark Watson (aka Marq)[1] and Jeff MacDonald (aka Y!ph) [2] and appeared infrequently in The Sheaf, the University of Saskatchewan students' newspaper.

Controversy[edit]

Background[edit]

In the February 22, 2006, issue of The Sheaf, pages B1-B4 of the issue were devoted to several lengthy opinion articles and letters addressing the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.[3] The Sheaf editor-in-chief, Will Robbins, wrote a 1,000-word editorial prefacing the other opinions outlining the reasons behind The Sheaf's editorial decision not to publish any of the controversial cartoons. Robbins also indicated that the decision not to publish any of the cartoons was not unanimous among the editorial staff. Indeed, in response to this decision The Sheaf news editor, Jeremy Warren, resigned from the paper. The nuanced journalistic position Robbins staked for The Sheaf was brought into question just one week later by the appearance of a controversial instalment of the Capitalist Piglet cartoon.

The March 2 issue[edit]

In the March 2, 2006, issue of The Sheaf, a two-panel installment of the comic strip appeared in the paper's "Comics and Humour" section depicting Jesus Christ performing fellatio on a top-hatted, monocle-wearing "Capitalist Piglet". The punchline in the second-panel refers to Jewish food-preparation traditions. The cartoon therefore appears to imply that Christianity is a tool of Capitalism.

The comic had been scanned and laid-out into the newspaper's publication software by the graphics editor. The editor-in-chief reviewed the first draft of the paper and marked the Capitalist Piglet comic for deletion from the issue. It is in dispute whether or not he also verbally instructed the graphics editor to remove it or not; regardless the comic was not removed. The issue went through several more revisions before going to print without the offending comic being withdrawn. The editor-in-chief later claimed this was a mistake and due in part to a staff shortage (ostensibly aggravated by the above-mentioned resignation of the news editor).[4][5]

In a retraction posted on page A2 of the March 9, 2006, issue, The Sheaf stated that Mark Watson was not an author of the March 2, 2006, Capitalist Piglet cartoon. In a letter appearing in that same issue, Mark Watson explained that his colleague, Y!ph, added his name to the installment "because he was using my character".[6] In the same issue, Jeff MacDonald accepted full responsibility for authoring the comic.

Public reaction[edit]

On March 3, 2006, University of Saskatchewan President Peter MacKinnon distributed an e-mail to all university staff and students calling on The Sheaf to apologize.

The Saskatoon daily newspaper, The StarPhoenix, published several stories about the incident, beginning on March 11, 2006.[7][8][9]

Several Rawlco radio stations also picked up the story, in particular its Saskatchewan AM Radio Talk News stations CKOM and CJME. Morning talk-show personality, and former Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, John Gormley, called on listeners to file a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

The comic was reported by other media, including the local CTV station. It gathered national media attention as well, and was heavily debated on many blogs, including the popular Saskatchewan blog Small Dead Animals.[10] Canadian University Press also ran a wire story detailing the situation.[11][12]

Numerous letters, both supporting and attacking The Sheaf were published in its subsequent March 9, 2006, issue on pages A11-A15.[13]

Actions by The Sheaf[edit]

Shortly after the March 2 edition came out in print, the "Comics and Humour" section - including the offending comic - was removed from the The Sheaf's online version.

According to Robbins' comments in a Star Phoenix article, he was invited to a Sunday meeting at The Sheaf and informed that all the other staff and editors had lost confidence in his ability to manage the paper and asked him to resign.[14] Reluctantly Robbins resigned. Despite many letters of support for Robbins,[15] The Sheaf Board of Directors accepted his resignation and appointed the production manager, Liam Richards, interim editor-in-chief and primary spokesperson during the controversy. In a press release, The Sheaf Board of Directors stated that "while the board is of the view that the 'Capitalist Piglet' comic is not consistent with The Sheaf's objectives, nor its previous editorial policy, we wish to make clear that our acceptance of his resignation was based primarily on his failure to carry out his duties diligently."[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Watson blog
  2. ^ MacDonald on myspace
  3. ^ Will Robbins, "Examining the issues behind the cartoon controversy", The Sheaf, 23 February 2006
  4. ^ Jason Warick, "Sheaf cartoonist not sorry for uproar", The StarPhoenix, 10 March 2006]
  5. ^ Chloé Fedio"U of S student paper on defensive after publishing Jesus comic" The Gateway/University of Alberta, 10 March 2006
  6. ^ Editorial staff, Editorial, The Sheaf, 9 March 2006
  7. ^ Janet French, "Cartoon spurs anger", The StarPhoenix, 7 March 2006
  8. ^ Jason Warick, "Sheaf cartoonist not sorry for uproar" The StarPhoenix, 10 March 2006
  9. ^ Janet French, "Cartoons trip up Saskatoon student paper", canada.com, 11 March 2006
  10. ^ "Freedom From Responsibility", Small Dead Animals, 6 March 2006
  11. ^ Chloé Fedio"U of S student paper on defensive after publishing Jesus comic" The Gateway/University of Alberta, 10 March 2006
  12. ^ Meredith Lilly, "Courting Controversy - Ezra Levant and the Danish cartoons Canadian Student Review, Spring 2006
  13. ^ Letters, The Sheaf, 9 March 2006
  14. ^ Jason Warick, "Sheaf cartoonist not sorry for uproar", The StarPhoenix, 10 March 2006
  15. ^ Support the Sheaf blog
  16. ^ [1] Imprint