Challenging complacency and routine

By Kris Kotarski

The Gauntlet’s March 7 cover had a picture of “Puppetry of the Penis” on it. This caused enough of an uproar that the paper was pelted with nasty letters and both the Calgary Herald and CBC Radio took enough interest to report on this event.

This column is about a penis on the cover of a newspaper and the value of routine. It could begin any number of ways, but it begins with an admission: I live in a prison of clich├ęs.

I’m a happy boy. I share a nice house in suburbia with mom and dad and I go to university to ensure a better future for myself. Like most students, I party too much and don’t study enough. Like most, I have two token extracurricular activities.

I play soccer where I stay positive and try to have fun. I write too. Writing is different–I strive for perfection and flow.

I interview athletes. Their prison is even worse.

"We’re a talented team but we have to stay focused to succeed," they say. "We can do a lot of things, but whatever we do, we can’t take Manitoba for granted."

It’s rare that I see anything different. When I do, I get scared. I don’t acknowledge different as good because it breaks my routine. I’m very human that way. Routines are not meant to be challenged.

This brings me to the penis. I wasn’t happy when I saw it–I have a five-year-old brother and I don’t want him seeing that filth.

Since when does penis puppetry warrant a cover story? Are my fellow student journalists really that desperate?

I thought about it. Why did the penis offend me? I have one. I might not be able to twist it into a hamburger but it’s there. I’m even comfortable enough to use it on a daily basis.

Nudity has never really bothered me either. Nudity is pretty natural–the goal of each half of the population is to undress the other half. This is why we have Bermuda Shorts Day and shampoo commercials. People don’t reproduce while clothed.

No, the real reason I got upset at the penis was that it caught me by surprise. It broke my routine of boring Students’ Union covers which are just as offensive as exposed genitals anyway. I saw something different and my brain said no before it even considered it.

Did the penis on the cover of the Gauntlet cause any injustice? Do people die to keep our campus penis-free?

As far as I can tell, it’s simply a break from our collective routine and the penis hardly deserves all the uproar it’s caused. After all, there’s a war on–oh wait, that’s pretty routine.

Kris Kotarski can be reached at

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