Catholics up in Arms over 'Immaculately Transmitted' Joke

The student newspaper of the University of Virginia, the Cavalier Daily, has gotten national attention for two cartoons lampooning Catholic beliefs.

Reports the Cavalier Daily on itself:

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and individuals from across the country have sent nearly 2,000 letters to The Cavalier Daily and to the University administration in response to the publication of two controversial comics Aug. 23 and Aug. 24.

Both comics were drawn by third-year College student Grant Woolard. The first comic was titled "Christ on a Cartesian Plane," and depicts the Crucifixion with a parabolic graph superimposed on the figure of Christ. The second comic is titled "A Nativity Ob-scene" and features dialogue between the Virgin Mary and Joseph about an "immaculately transmitted" rash....

The Catholic League cited the precedent of a previous Cavalier Daily apology in Nov. 2005 for a comic that was offensive to the queer community, according to the League's Web site.

Cavalier Daily editor-in-chief Michael Slaven said a journalistic apology differs from a personal apology in that the paper will not apologize simply because someone takes offense to something that was published.

"We cannot apologize for something that did not violate any policies that we have," Slaven said.

In an April 24 lead editorial, The Cavalier Daily unveiled a new policy stating how comics and columns are to be evaluated for censorship on the basis of three criteria. First, editors determine whether a verifiable historical or contemporary situation is truthfully depicted. If this standard is not met, two other criteria are evaluated: whether the author makes a "serious, intentional point, the censoring of which would constitute viewpoint discrimination" and whether the author criticizes a group "for any reason other than their own opinions or actions."

According to the editorial, "this policy seeks to limit material that criticizes people for traits or situations they cannot change."