Volume 91, Issue 12

Wednesday, September 17, 1997



Sincerity of forced apology questioned

Re:An open letter to the students of The University of Western Ontario, Sept 16

I was supervising editor of The Gazette during the 1996-97 publishing year. It was, in part, my decision to reprint the controversial Horovitz cartoon which depicted God and Allah together and caused a few Muslim students at Western to complain.

I do not apologize for reprinting the cartoon.

The bitterness expressed by some Muslim students was clearly not ubiquitous since the Muslims on our staff found the cartoon funny and not offensive.

I was extremely disturbed to learn the University Students' Council found it reasonable to draft an apology on The Gazette's behalf and demand the current editors print it word for word.

The current editors have never dealt with the cartoon in question and did not even personally write the apology. This forced publication surely can't be perceived as sincere.

Even more perplexing is that the very same publisher (USC) refrained from taking any course of action when the president of the Muslim Students' Association slandered The Gazette and its editor-in-chief last year. Even when the same president threatened our lives the publisher did not come to our defence.

When I was an editor I got many complaints about the Horovitz cartoons. Callers would be infuriated over the lax nature in which drug use was portrayed or the foul language chosen by the artist.

Point taken.

I also know that while Horovitz was a regular feature in The Gazette, offensive or not, it was the most-read item in the paper.

Perception is a tricky thing and when you work in newspapers you learn just how sensitive people can be. What you do is listen to concerns and note them. What you don't do is print apologies every time someone's feelings are hurt.

The editors who keep the chairs warm at The Gazette are not simply gerbils making the wheels turn. These people are hard working, intelligent and reasonable. They are deserved of the opportunity to weigh problems, make decisions and even make mistakes.

I am eternally grateful that this opportunity was afforded to me. It would not have been the same had we been the victim of puppeteers pulling our strings and issuing commands.

I can only assume the USC is doing what it believes is right. It's unfortunate they have to castrate The Gazette's decision-making process and the editor's devotion to their jobs to achieve their end.

The point I find most bewildering though is if the USC insists on interfering with The Gazette's editorial decisions, why don't they have the gumption to sign their own names to the apologies they write? And furthermore, what precisely, aside from setting a bad precedent, has been achieved?

Laura Koot

Gazette Supervising Editor 1996-97

Canada/World Editor

The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

To Contact The Letters Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997