May 23, 2006

Mao Parody Offends Chinese Students

(h/t Volokh Conspiracy) Mao=George W. Bush=George Washington=Jesus--minus the slaughter, starvation, and "Cultural Revolution" of course!:
A mob of angry Chinese students protested at Massey University yesterday after Chairman Mao was lampooned on the cover of the student newspaper.

Students likened the cover of Chaff, which this week satirises women's magazine Cosmopolitan, to the anti-Muslim cartoons circulated around the world in February.

. . .

UCOL student Xing Tang said Chaff staff are ignorant of Chinese culture.

"Chairman Mao is like Jesus to us," he said on the verge of tears.

"We pay $20,000 in fees and a Musa fee (which funds Chaff) and this is how we are treated."

Student Ronnie Cao likened the cover to the anti-Muslim cartoons.

"This is discrimination against us."

. . .

Yang Chenglin said students are proud of their Chinese culture.

"Mao gave us independence. He's no more a killer than George Washington or George W Bush.

"He is the father of China - without Mao, there is no China."

Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao, was the founder of the People's Republic of China and one of the most prominent figures in Chinese history.

He is also revered as a great spiritual leader and cultural symbol.

. . .

Tensions flared as agitated students confronted Chaff editor Edrei Valath and news editor Matt Russell.

"It was an arbitrary decision to run the cover of Mao," Mr Russell said, adding it was intended as a joke.

"We were looking for a picture of Marx or Lenin and we couldn't use Castro because he had a beard and it just didn't work. I didn't think it would offend."

Mr Valath said students are "enraged for the sake of being enraged".

"It is ironic - in China, the students would have no forum in which to complain."

He said Chinese students studying here should be made aware a good sense of humour is part of Kiwi culture.

. . .

However, Chinese Massey student Tony Song said protesters were being "too sensitive".

"It's been done to the Queen before. I'm not offended at all. I was laughing."

Massey University international office director Bruce Graham said the Chaff cover is in "extremely poor taste". However, he accepted Chaff has editorial independence.

"This shows a lack of respect. Chinese students are an important part of the university's community."

Mr Graham has suggested to Chaff an apology is required.
Perhaps someone from Castro's Cooooba will demand an apology for this following Slapstick parody:


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