Last Tuesday, The Daily Texan ran Eisner's cartoon about the role of media in the Trayvon Martin case on the editorial page of the newspaper. After a firestorm of controversy, Eisner no longer works with The Texan, but a petition has been created that calls for her reinstatement.
After The Daily Texan ran Stephanie Eisner's controversial Trayvon Martin cartoon, there's been outrage on two sides. One side of the outrage believes that Eisner's cartoon was racist, and it was wrong to publish her work. The second side believes that regardless of the message of the cartoon, Eisner should be allowed to publish her work due to freedom of speech.
The first succeeded in getting Eisner fired. The second has released a petition to have her reinstated.
The petition, created by someone under the username of "Samian Q" calls on The Daily Texan to "affirm its commitment to liberal democratic values and recognition of journalistic courage" and calls on the staff to bring Eisner back. The petition explains:
Unfortunately, a minority within the campus community perceived racism within the cartoon itself and in the resultant controversy pressured the editorial staff to fire Eisner. Disappointingly, the editorial board complied to this vitriolic and narrow-minded minority and it removed Ms. Eisner from its staff. The decision is an insult to journalistic independence, our national values of free speech and a free press, and the right to dissent from popular or prevailing viewpoints. Regardless of one's views of the cartoon itself, we find it alarming that Ms. Eisner would be shunned and silenced for expressing her views.
As of this afternoon, the petition had 134 signatures with several comments from petitioners explaining why they signed. Still, the opposing side denounces Eisner's cartoon for reasons such as the ones listed in this petition created by UT-Austin Professor Snehal Shingavi:
Not only does the cartoon trivialize a brutal murder of a young African-American man, but it relies on tropes of white victimhood in the face of aggressive, Black violence and depicts Trayvon Martin not as the victim, but mistakenly as a cynical tool in the "yellow journalism" of the corporate media. We are further dismayed that the cartoon replicates nineteenth century notions of white women under threat from Black men, while at the same time perpetuating the false notion that accounts of anti-Black racism are merely tall tales or bedtime stories. We demand that the Daily Texan apologize publicly and that it immediately censure Stephanie Eisner by refusing to print any of her cartoons again.
In response to these criticisms Eisner released an apology to Gawker on Thursday stating:
"I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused."
As of now, Eisner still remains removed from The Daily Texan staff.