Monday, October 19, 2009

Spoofing the First Amendment

Generally, I have a good idea of how to make fun of a situation in which most people are offended. But I must say I am stumped.

Last week the JTA reported that The Pamphlette, a student run humor magazine at Reed College in Oregon had to apologize after this headline: “LC students kill Jewish people.” The article started:
"In what is being called a 'tragic, but all too predictable' event, the staff of The Leaphlette, a student humor publication at Lewis & Clark College, have been accused of rounding up and gassing all of the Jews on their Portland, OR, campus."

Yeah so this is strange right?

The story behind it was about an overreaction to another somewhat less offensive satirical take on Anne Frank done by the publication that some folks at Lewis & Clark’s above mentioned The Leaphlette enabled “real genocide.”

While not that funny, it does prove a very good point…college students are idealistic numb-sculls who live in a world where nothing they do actually matters until it interferes with donorsthe First Amendment is powerful and must be respected. It also proves that when you are fighting those who satirize for a line on their resumea living you must be prepared to be hit back.

The only funny thing here is that the president of the Reed College didn’t stand up for his students’ right to publish very stupid, ill-informed and inflammatory statements. This wasn’t the student paper, it was a humor rag. Students, faculty and staff didn’t think this really happened. Nor do they think it should happen. Satire is intended to make you think.

Being offended is part of the deal of the First Amendment.

While this is in extremely poor taste, there is nothing wrong with this situation.

1 comment:

Larry K said...

How about looking at this not as a First Amendment issue but as a derech eretz issue?

Students at an elite college should be grown up enough to know the difference between what is funny and what is grossly offensive. (Yes, sometimes funny and gross can come together, but this does not appear to be one of those times.)

The Onion seems to handle this kind of humor to make people laugh instead of to cry. Hey, Reed kids -- maybe you should hire Herman Zwiebel.