‘Doonesbury' on U.Va. and Sex Assault Issue

December 30, 2014

Many readers of Sunday's "Doonesbury" wondered if that edition of the comic -- which takes colleges' handling of sexual assault issues as its target -- was a mistake in that it featured a comment about the University of Virginia, The Washington Post reported. Readers posted comments citing the way Rolling Stone has admitted flaws in its article about a woman's recollection of being gang raped in a U.Va. fraternity, and some speculated that the cartoon was planned after the article was first appeared but before it was discredited.

Garry Trudeau, the comic strip's creator, said Monday that he didn't think the numerous questions raised about the Rolling Stone article about U.Va. required any change in the comic strip. “We had some internal discussion about whether the flaws in the [Rolling Stone] reporting mattered here, and we concluded they didn’t,” Trudeau told the Post. “U.Va. is only used as setup to get the reader to consider the larger problem of institutions prioritizing their reputations over the welfare of those they’re charged with safeguarding. That issue has remained front and center, and even U.Va. recognizes that sloppy reporting doesn’t change the fact that they have a huge problem within their culture.”

In a comment to Inside Higher Ed, he clarified that "the internal conversation referenced took place after it was too late to make changes. It was a post-facto damage assessment, in which we apparently overestimated the ability of some readers to focus on the point of the strip as opposed to details that were clearly dated. If I had been able to make changes, obviously I would have. No one deliberately creates opportunities for critics to change the subject."

The full strip may be seen at the bottom of the link from the Post article.

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