University of Montana newspaper publishes controversial rape-joke cartoon

NBCMontana.com
The University of Montana’s Montana Kaimin published a cartoon by Callan Berry that likened a mandatory online class about sexual assault to being sexually assaulted. “I didn’t want to do it, but they made me take it all,” a shaded “Victim X” declares in the cartoon.

“I’m a satirical artist,” Berry told KECI reporter Will Wadley. “My point was to satirize the feeling on campus towards PETSA… which is that some people believe that they shouldn’t have to take it, and that they’re forced to.”

It’s wrong to describe Berry’s cartoon as a joke gone awry, because that would imply a joke about sexual assault could, under the right circumstances, somehow hit the target. Moreover, there’s substantial anecdotal evidence from just the past few months that suggests sexual assault is a subject no one should tackle outside of the context of reporting on sexual assault.

Consider:

• The Boston University Daily Free Press, whose editor resigned after its April Fools’ article about “Seven frat dwarves” who “gangbanged a female Boston University student in an Allston Village cabin” failed to connect with readers’ senses of humor.

• Comedian Daniel Tosh apologized after a purported joke about raping a female heckler was not received well.

• Politico reporter David Catanese wasn’t making a rape joke when he decided to defend Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s musings about rape “for argument’s sake.” That thought experiment got him pulled from the Akin beat and reprimanded publicly. “Catanese was trying to have what he later called ‘a nuanced conversation’ about a topic that was not, in fact, nuanced,” Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman wrote afterward.

Correction: This post originally misspelled Kaimin.

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  • Anonymous

    I saw a large number of men and women coming to the defense of a) A coach who raped young boys and B) a cadre of university officials who covered up the rapes of young boys. Perhaps the women weren’t making jokes, but they were certainly clueless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1084733830 Kate Andrews

    Oh, I’m not forgetting — the whole “prison rape” joke is just as indefensible, but seriously, I have never heard a woman make a rape joke. If one does, she’s just as clueless as these men are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/whipped.cream89 Kate Whittle

    Thanks! Happens all the time, much to Kaiminites’ chagrin.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not forget men and boys are subjected to rape. Women aren’t the only victims. Penn State, for example…

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Thanks for pointing that out. My error completely. I’ve corrected it. –Andrew

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1084733830 Kate Andrews

    Charming. When in doubt, men especially (because all the “offenders” in the listed cases above are male) need to think once, twice and even three times before sounding off about rape.

  • http://www.facebook.com/whipped.cream89 Kate Whittle

    It’s spelled “Montana Kaimin.”