A student newspaper in the US has been forced to apologize for publishing a cartoon which seemed to encourage violence against gay people.
The comic strip which appeared in the Arizona Daily Wildcat features a father telling his son: 'If you ever tell me you're gay...I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off of a bridge.'
To which the child joked: 'Well I guess that's what they call a Fruit Roll-Up!'
The editors of the newspaper and the cartoon's author have now issued an official apology after a petition of over 4,600 signatures was launched, calling for those responsible to be fired for 'condoning violence and homophobia'.
'The Arizona Daily Wildcat does screw up, and acknowledging its mistakes and oversights is critical to its accountability,' read the publication's apology.
Author of the cartoon and University of Arizona student, DC Parsons, also said sorry on the newspaper's website, insisting it was 'only a joke'.
'The comic was not intended to offend. The desired end means of my work is solely humorous,' he wrote in response to an outraged reader.
He added that the story was based on an experience from his childhood.
Parsons said: 'My father is a devout conservative from a previous generation, and I believe he was simply distraught from the fact that I had learned (from “The Simpsons”) what homosexuality was at such a young age.
'I have always used humor as a coping mechanism, much like society does when addressing social taboos. I do not condone these things; I simply don’t ignore them.
'I do sincerely apologize and sympathize with anyone who may be offended by my comics (I am often similarly offended by “Ralph and Chuck”), but keep in mind it is only a joke and what’s worse than a joke is a society that selectively ignores its problems.'