Catholic League has joined in on a debate over anti-Christian cartoons
published in The Insurgent, student newspaper at the University of
In a letter sent Wednesday to state legislators, higher education officials and Catholic leaders in Oregon, league president William Donohue describes the cartoons as "flagrantly anti-Catholic" and one of "the most egregious examples of hate speech targeted at Christians."
The cartoons — one depicting Jesus on the cross with an erect penis and the other depicting a sexually aroused Jesus and another man embraced in a kiss—were printed in The Insurgent’s March issue, reported Oregon’s Register-Guard newspaper.
A UO student filed a grievance over the publication with the student body government, which last week ruled in the newspaper's favor.
Student editors said they decided to publish the image after the international uproar over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, first published in a Danish newspaper.
Student editor Jessica Brown said students were taking aim at the institutions of Christianity, not its adherents, and that their critiques don't constitute hate speech.
"Plus, I have to say it is really fun to offend people," she wrote. "It is fun to break the rules, and to do things that are just not done. At least it will stimulate an emotion and create some argument."
Catholic League spokeswoman Kiera McCaffrey said the organization is not calling for censorship or other action, but wants legislators and others to know "what's going on in a state university that receives public funding."
The Insurgent is not a university publication or university supported, but it does receive student incidental fees, $18,349 for this school year.
Donohue said he wrote his letter to Oregon legislators after receiving a "tepid response" from university president Dave Frohnmayer.
In a prepared statement, Frohnmayer said the university does not own, control or publish The Insurgent. He wrote that the “best response to offensive speech often is more speech.”
The Register-Guard reported that, in an earlier letter, Frohnmayer said free speech "should be exercised with maturity and good judgment" and that campus publications "should not focus on creating controversy for controversy's sake."