The Dartmouth community is a rich and stimulating environment for learning because it brings together people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs. As the similarity in the words indicates, “community” and “communication” are inextricably linked. Dartmouth suffers because barriers to thoughtful communication persist.
Some members of the Dartmouth community were angered by the publication of a Bear Bones cartoon in The Dartmouth last Tuesday; the cartoon was interpreted differently than the cartoonist intended. It is ironic that a cartoon meant to satirize and ridicule stereotypes has been labeled racist and accused of perpetuating stereotypes.
Writing the word “chink” on a door is inappropriate and hurtful. Throwing dirt at a window displaying the rainbow flag is despicable and harmful. But publishing a cartoon which attempts to expose and ridicule stereotypes is behavior that strengthens our community and fosters communication. In an environment where people are afraid to talk, stereotypes will persist. Communication destroys stereotypes.
It is the role of any newspaper in a free society to facilitate communication within its community. Although The Dartmouth would never print material that is racist or malicious, it is the editors’ responsibility to provide a forum for the expression of responsible ideas. The editors of The Dartmouth regret that the cartoon’s inclusion offended some members of the community. But if we wish to eradicate stereotypes at Dartmouth, it is important that such expression not be suppressed.