UCT and Sax Appeal: the Vice-Chancellor’s response

Dr. Max Price responded as follows to the controversy described in my previous post. My response to his is offered below:

Dear Colleagues and Students

This year’s edition of Sax Appeal, the annual UCT Rag publication produced by students, has elicited widespread reaction and debate. I feel it most important that our community discuss issues like these freely and I therefore share my views with you. I welcome your views.

This year’s edition elicited an outcry from many people – including many Christians – objecting strongly to a feature on pages 84 and 85 offering possible retorts for an atheist to certain imagined questions from Christian fundamentalists contained in 10 picture comic frames. Some also objected to a Zapiro cartoon, and to other statements in the magazine.


UCT: Sax Appeal and blasphemy

The most recent issue of the University of Cape Town student publication, Sax Appeal, has caused quite some consternation among god-botherers. I’ve sent off a letter to the Cape Times, reprinted below in case of edits or non-publication

The most recent edition of Sax Appeal was certainly an embarrassment, in that it was both poorly written and edited, and also not very funny. What has caused most concern, however, is the alleged blasphemy the magazine contained.

As an atheist member of the UCT community, the material that has offended believers offends me too – simply because it was purely abusive rather than critical, and in being abusive has served only to further entrench dogmatism and intolerance on the part of religious folk, and hence to impede the progress of those who seek to promote a naturalistic worldview, free of superstition, at UCT and beyond.

A further consequence of this episode is that it has led senior members of the University’s administration to feel the need to offer grovelling apologies, where none should be necessary. Sax Appeal does not speak for the University, and the University’s administration should not be considered responsible for the actions or speech-acts of those who produced Sax Appeal.

Being offended is something we have to at some stage learn to simply live with, except (arguably) in the case of hate-speech, which this did not amount to. Instead of running to the Human Rights Commission, may I suggest that the offended parties first try to learn some lessons in tolerance from those of us who constantly have to drown out the metaphysical noise generated by the faithful?

You can read more about the controversy at Taariq’s blog, which also has links to the Cape Times articles, as well as some hyperventilating from Galilee International Ministries.