Student senate asks UC-Berkeley newspaper to apologize for cartoon following terrorist attacks

In retaliation for a political cartoon in The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California Berkeley, the student senate passed a bill calling for a front-page apology and sensitivity training.

The legislation passed Oct. 10 with a vote of 11-7 with one abstention. The bill was substantially different from its original version, which stipulated an $8,000-per-month rent increase for The Daily Californian. The bill that passed does not mention any monetary repercussions for the paper.

“It took out all of the strong language to say basically the [Associated Students of the University of California Berkeley] wants to slap the Daily Cal on the wrist,” said Daniel Frankenstein, a senator who opposed the legislation. “It doesn’t do anything; it became something very symbolic.”

The bill directly refers to a Sept. 18 editorial cartoon drawn by syndicated cartoonist Darrin Bell that depicts two Muslims in hell in reference to the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The cartoon may promote the kind of harmful stereotyping that has led to the murder of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Southeast Asians across the country,” the legislation states.

In the bill, the student government called for a printed front-page apology for the drawing. The senators plan to request the apology through a signed letter to the editorial board. They want the paper to take responsibility for using poor judgment in printing the editorial cartoon. The senators also are asking The Daily Californian staff to attend sensitivity training.

The resolution concludes by affirming the First Amendment rights of The Daily Californian. The senators proclaimed that the paper has the right, “to express whatever views it wishes and we praise them for their strong editorial and news leadership and service to the general student body during these troubled times.”

Prior to the revised bill passing, some senators, who opposed the idea of condemning The Daily Californian, drafted another bill. The “Free Speech for Campus Publications” legislation proposes that any financial relationships, including funding and space allocation should be “based on a content-neutral basis.”

Proponents of the new bill believe it is still relevant even though the proposed rent increases for The Daily Californian were edited from the final version.

“When you have even the possibility of upping a rent simply because of content, a precedent has been set that it is even a debatable issue,” said Frankenstein, a supporter of the bill.