- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Cartoons featuring Jesus Christ that ran in a student newspaper at the University of Virginia have prompted a barrage of e-mails to the paper and school from people who think the comics are blasphemous.

The university and the Cavalier Daily have received more than 2,000 messages about the cartoons, primarily from people outside the university, U.Va. spokeswoman Carol Wood said.

The Jesus cartoons drawn by a U.Va. student ran in the Aug. 23 and 24 editions of the Cavalier Daily. “Christ on a Cartesian Coordinate Plane” depicted the figure of Jesus crucified on X and Y axes of a mathematical graph.

“A Nativity Ob-scene” showed Joseph and the Virgin Mary talking about Mary’s rash, with her saying, “I swear, it was immaculately transmitted!”

Most of the e-mails were form letters, said Michael Slaven, the student paper’s editor in chief.

“I strongly protest the blasphemous cartoons published in the Cavalier Daily on August 23-24, which grossly mock Our Lord Jesus Christ and attack the immaculate purity of the Mother of God,” said the form e-mail, a copy of which Mr. Slaven provided to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “This is deeply offensive to the Catholic Faith and to me personally.”

The uproar began early this month when the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights demanded an apology from the Cavalier Daily.

The paper declined to apologize for publishing the cartoons, saying they didn’t violate any newspaper policy.

Miss Wood said the university has no editorial control over the newspaper, which receives no school funding, and must uphold freedoms of speech, expression and the press.

Kevin Simowitz, chairman of U.Va.’s Catholic Student Ministry, said the comics fell within the constitutional bounds of free speech but they were in extremely poor taste.

“Just because something is permissible doesn’t make it right,” he said.

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