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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Pulitzer-winning cartoonist holds panel discussion on Danish scandal

Pulitzer Prize-winning Quaker political cartoonist Signe Wilkinson visited Guilford on Nov. 16 and 17, participating in a panel discussion and giving lectures. She spoke on subjects ranging from the Danish cartoon scandals to Quaker influence on her art. On Nov. 16, Wilkinson took part in a panel discussion on the recent Danish Muslim-cartoon controversy and the deadly worldwide riots that followed. The discussion was held in Hege Library Art Gallery, where Wilkinson’s work currently hangs. She was joined in the discussion by another cartoonist and editors of The Greensboro News and Record and the Rhinoceros Times.

The fallout from the cartoon controversy has caused many people to question how far freedom of speech should go. Some have argued that people should curtail some of what they have to say if it offends others, especially when it comes to religion. Many papers refused to run the cartoons, Greensboro’s Rhinoceros Times being a notable exception. Wilkinson, though she is religious, is against limiting freedom of speech.

“Today everyone wants to ‘stop them damn pictures,’ if they hurt their feelings or the feelings of anyone else in their tribe,” she said. “When newcomers arrive on our shores with their dearly held religious beliefs they should come expecting those beliefs to be scrutinized.”

Wilkinson went on to point out that people who say that it is offensive to show pictures of their religious figures, never complain when they are shown in a positive light.

“People hate stereotyping unless it’s positive stereotyping,” she said.

Faculty, staff, students and friends of the college attended the events.

“I think she had a very level-headed view of religion, most likely attributed to the fact that she is a satirist,” said sophomore Ross Brubeck, who attended both events. “But she doesn’t let too much get in the way of what she has to say.”

Later, Wilkinson gave a lecture entitled “Drawn to Quakerism: Friendly Influence on the Artist’s Craft” at New Garden Friend’s meeting.

“A girl growing up Quaker has the feeling of equality in her bones,” she said, explaining how she has come so far in a field that is dominated by men.

Wilkinson described journalism as an extremely compelling field but also an extremely cynical one.

“Quaker meeting is a good antidote to journalism for me,” she said. I really try not to think about cartoons during meeting for worship

Wilkinson showed slides of her cartoons to the audience, joking that since being cheap was one of the cardinal virtues of Quakerism they had probably all come to see free cartoons anyway.

“When they say practicing Quakers, they are talking about me,” Wilkinson said. “I could use a lot of practice. I know a lot of religious people who need practice following the tenants of their beliefs. Max Carter being the obvious exception.”

“Coming from a liberal, un-programmed, Quaker background, I saw expressions of community, integrity, peace, equality, and potentially simplicity in her cartoons,” said junior and practicing Quaker Colin Bussier-Nichols. “But it should be recognized that her understanding of these testimonies would not have been congruent with the beliefs of more then half the Quakers in the U.S.”

Junior Rania Campbell-Cobb, a practicing Quaker, was enthusiastic about the lecture.

“She’s a woman who is very prominent in a male-dominated field. Her Quaker upbringing said that she could do whatever men could and so she has a belief that she belongs. I think that is really great.

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