Published: Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 21:04
I am sad to see many of the complaints that have arisen following the April Fools' Day issue. I am sorry anyone was hurt by what we printed. Our intention was never to hurt, nor to encourage hurtful ideas.
That, to me, is the saddest part. We wrote to defend the very groups who felt offended by what we printed.
To say it quite simply: We're on your side.
As those who have faithfully read the Advocate this year may already know.
Since the publication of the April Fools' edition of the Advocate, this publication and members of its staff have been characterized as racist and ignorant. But the us-against-them argument developing with the students representing racial and gender equality views on one side and the Advocate on the other puts us in false dichotomy. We may disagree on how we express ourselves, but we are both interested in the same causes of social justice.
I understand that invoking the nature of satire as the reasoning for our approach has not been an adequate one to many of you who were offended by the content of that issue. But just as a way of being clear about what our attempt was, let me say a little more about satire.
Satire, as a device used by writers, is intended to skewer an establishment or an established idea, like racism. Its goal is to ridicule a powerful view and in doing so, give power to those who have little of it. Literary precedents include "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift, which we gave a nod to in the April 1 Point/Counterpoint on page four, and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. In both, views appear to be argued that are, in the course of the text, undermined by repeated demonstrations of their absurdity.
Satire can be tough to recognize. Swift enraged people when they read his essay, which suggested that rich English people purchase and eat Irish babies as a remedy for poverty in Ireland. Huck Finn was banned from school libraries for years by people who misread its message on racism.
I regret that subjects we attempted to ridicule and thereby disempower—racism, gender inequality, and ignorance—have been seen as something we perpetuated. The Advocate has pushed and continues to push its readers to explore and understand a diversity of cultures, art forms, and perspectives.
My intention since joining the Advocate's staff, and particularly since becoming its editor in chief, has been to see that this newspaper become a valuable contributor to this campus community. I have consistently worked to represent diverse issues in a respectful manner.
One of the first stories I wrote for the Advocate was a profile of a professor of Africana studies at the University of Colorado Boulder—a man who built his life as an academic out of a childhood spent in the projects in Los Angeles. When I sat down for that interview, one of the first questions I asked him was, "How do we talk about race effectively across races? What are the rules?"
And he said, there are no rules. That, in fact, to have an effective dialogue about race in America, sometimes you have to let go of racial etiquette.
Not everyone may like to hear that, or be ready to surrender the etiquette to which we've become accustomed. That's OK, too. His is just one opinion on race, and one way of expressing it.
Our country was created by individuals who dared to challenge and ridicule ideologies they viewed as absurd. And whether that's a tax on your stamps or the idea that illegal immigrants are going to drain a public health care system, the media need to be allowed to mock those ideas precisely so people see how completely absurd they are and begin to work to change them.
That is the hope, I believe. And we have nothing if we do not have hope that this press, like any free press, can participate in a dialogue—even one on sensitive issues—that may help make this country a more open and understanding one.
Editor in chief