Sax Appeal – Gone too far?

Every year, the UCT RAG committee publishes a comical satire that ridicules political figures, religious groups, sensitive animal lovers and many more. Copies of Sax Appeal are distributed across Cape Town by UCT students around mid-Feb, and all proceeds go towards SHAWCO, a student-run charity organisation. The 2009 publication, however, contained an article that sparked fury and outrage amongst Christians, and ignited a heated debate over the prudency and morality of the publication.

Article in question:

pg 1

pg 1



The last frame on page 1 caused a significant amount of controversy. Even non-Christians thought it to be excessively harsh. Protestors termed it as a personal attack on Christians. They demanded a formal apology from UCT RAG, and the Vice-Chancellor, as well as disciplinary actions for the editorial team.

To quote my EBM lecturer from last year:

Originally Posted by Jacque Rousseau

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?

My reason for quoting Mr R was because he summarised my sentiments more eloquently than I ever could. This also ties in nicely with my previous post on the ethics of humour. Sax Appeal is meant to be satirical and controvertial. The intent is not ill-conceived. If the editorial team was to remove all sensitive/offensive material, the entire magazine would be nothing but a skeleton.

One Comment

  1. Those who know me will know that I have absolutely no problems laughing at just about any humour, even when it pokes fun at me (in this case, I’m a deeply Christian). However, in this case… I don’t get it; the whole thing is just way over the top with random abuse. Of course, even if I sometimes feel like it would be a great idea, bad humour is not a good reason to ban a publication, so aside from being an epic failure, I don’t see anything wrong with this.

    I’d like to offer all the people whining about the article a sip from the cup:


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