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.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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