EDMONTON - Space Moose is in trouble up to his antlers.
The cartoon character that appears in the University of Alberta campus newspaper has caused outrage over a recent comic strip that shows him shooting at feminists.
The strip didn't appear in the newspaper the Gateway, but it was carried on the cartoonist's home page, which is on the university Website.
The cartoon depicts Space Moose encountering a women's Take Back the Night march and mowing down the women with a machine-gun. The character is eventually collared by a huge mannish woman and stuck in a cage.
Although it wasn't printed in the Gateway, the strip, created by graduate student Adam Thrasher, has prompted half a dozen complaints to the dean of students. Complainants objected that the Oct. 9 Gateway gave the Website address for that strip.
The incident is under investigation by university authorities and the student council.
"Women feel like we're being sent a message that we are neither wanted nor safe on campus", said an undergraduate arts student who didn't want her name printed.
Another woman, a graduate student in sociology, called cartoonist Thrasher a "misogynist" and said that by publishing the Website address, the newspaper is supporting violence against women.
But Thrasher says he is neither a misogynist nor violent, but simply blessed with "a sick and twisted sense of humour".
"I wasn't promoting violence; I don't agree with violence in any way. I was just showing the absurdity and irrationality of violence", said Thrasher, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering working on a thesis on the rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries.
Thrasher wasn't happy the cartoon was pulled from the newspaper.
But Gateway editor Rose Yewchuk said it would have offended some readers, although she personally finds it difficult to take Space Moose seriously.
Yewchuk said she listed the Website address as "a courtesy to fans of the cartoon and the artist".
Stewart McDonough, a Students' Union vice-president who chairs an advisory committee to the Gateway, said the newspaper staff was correct to pull the cartoon. But the Gateway, which is self-financed by advertising revenues, has an independent editorial policy that is not controlled either by student council or the faculty, he said.
Burton Smith, dean of students, said a special committee will meet today to discuss the issue, and the first item will be whether Thrasher's work should have been on the university Website.
"I don't think it's appropriate at all", Smith said.