The Gateway
Tuesday, January 13

Thrasher fined for insensitivity

Reprimanded for "failing to treat women with respect"

by Dan Lazin

Space Moose has been kicked in the nads again, and this time he isn't finding it pleasurable.

Adam Thrasher, creator of the controversial comic strip Space Moose, has been charged with discrimination under the Non-Academic Code of Student Behaviour.

A December 15 letter from U of A discipline officer Gretchen Hess to appeals coordinator Joanne McKinnon alleges that Thrasher violated the Code by publishing his "Clobberin' Time" strip on his University-provided web site.

The letter sets forth two penalties for Thrasher: a contribution of $200 worth of food to the Graduate Students' Association Food Bank, and a written reprimand. The reprimand reads, "We reprimand Mr. Thrasher for failing to treat women with dignity and respect. In future, Mr. Thrasher should be more sensitive to some members of his reading audience in his depiction of issues."

Thrasher does not intend to make the $200 restitution, but will instead seek legal advice from Student Legal Services. Although the SLS Civil Law office did not open until yesterday, Thrasher has until January 20 to appeal the judgment.

While Thrasher indicated displeasure with how the administration has handled the issue, he does not plan to terminate his studies at the U of A. "I am still very pleased with the scientific community I am a part of, but the administration needs to grow a spine."

On October 9, a notice appeared in The Gateway that while the offending strip had been censored, it was available at Thrasher's homepage, which The Gateway provided an address for. The strip depicts Space Moose and his associate Billy the Bionic Badger shooting female protesters at a Take Back the Night rally.

In the letter, Hess states that nine female complainants approached Campus Security Services about the matter.

"In talking with the complainants," Hess writes, "we were struck by their descriptions of the fear they experienced in the aftermath of the publishing of Mr. Thrasher's "Clobbering Time" [sic] cartoon on the website. Each individually changed her behaviours due to the fear she experienced."

Thrasher's defense is that the strip was intended to criticize the perpetuation of the "gender war" that he feels women-only marches like Take Back the Night enhance. Because male involvement in such rallies is discouraged, Thrasher feels that unthinking men may be incited to further hatred towards women.

In response to this defense, Hess argues that the intent of the strip is not clearly visible. She states that "'intent' is not as germane as 'effect,'" and that it is the effect of the cartoon for which Thrasher is being prosecuted.

The Space Moose website is no longer available through the University's servers. Thrasher was prevented from publishing his cartoons there following the incident, and has since moved the site to a private Edmonton server.