Policing HumorFri, 14th Nov '03, 11:10 am::
Once again something at Rutgers makes it to the news: Student Newspaper Accused of Bigotry. The (VERY offensive) free newspaper, The Medium, has almost always crossed the line in terms of socially acceptable free speech. On almost every page you'll find some racist, sexist, hateful comment made to someone in particular or just in general to a group of people. There's two ways to look at this paper. One is the administrative point of view that is newspapers like this promote hatred, racism, and negative stereotypes. Not surprisingly most of the faculty at Rutgers think the same, at least publicly. The other point of view, shared mostly by students and a handful of younger faculty, is that we see it clearly that we are all different. But we also realize that we are so finely assimilated that no amount of racist or sexist jokes will offend any of us because they are just that: jokes. Suffice to say, I fall in the latter category.
While flipping through the pages of The Medium, I often run across some quote made by someone, saying how all Indian students who come to US are losers with no social lives. Then the next page would have a comment educating the world as to how ugly all the Indians are. Suppose I am a new Indian professor/student who is hoping to join Rutgers and come across just that piece of comment, I would most certainly assume Rutgers is a place full of racism/hate and quite possibly would choose to not go to Rutgers. Thankfully, I did not come across The Medium before I came here. Otherwise I would have never learnt two things that Rutgers has taught me: Tolerance and taking things with a pinch of salt. Because right under the comment against Indians, will be a comment by someone else about how some other race/country/gender is full of ugly losers with no morals. In short, nobody is spared. The Medium mocks whites just as much as chinese, Indians just as much as frat boys, blacks just as much as latino pokemon lovers. There is no pattern of hate - it's just random. That is why it's funny.
It takes a mere fool to laugh at someone slipping on a banana. It takes tolerance and courage to laugh at one's own self or people, while realising it was not meant to incite violence or abuse, merely to exercise free speech and make a personal statement. Personally, I would never comment on The Medium. Mainly because I do not believe in making broad generalizations like all sorority girls are loose strumpets or all sports players are dumb and emotionless. I do not also believe all Indians are ugly social retards. And hence, when someone says that in The Medium, I am not offended, instead amused. Of course, I have the full right to be insulted and should fight whoever who said that. Right? Well that's exactly what the Taliban thought too. So did the Nazis, Al-Qaeda members, and currently the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists. They also tried (and some are still trying) to stop or at worst exterminate the ones who did not believe in their narrow self-indulgent self-worshipping ideologies.
The world is not a better place if people cannot say what they believe in, no matter how stupid, annoying, hateful they might be. If they are wrong, as in most cases the personals on The Medium are, intelligent people will just laugh at them and move on to the next joke. It is the ignorants who are offended by the anonymous generalized comments and take upon arms to curtail a channel of free speech that The Medium is. I do not agree with almost anything in The Medium. Yet I empathize with them for they have to face the spite of self-righteous administrators who think the world will be a better place if all student voice is stifled. No, The Medium is not revolutionary. No, it is not going to incite violence. No, it is not a literary piece of fine authorship. The Medium is Rutgers. It's an identity of who we are - complex beings with mixed, confused feelings. It is a place for students to vent their frustrations while trying to amuse the readers. THAT is what The Medium is, so go have a fat darrell and stop trying to kill it.