I am certain that the faculty of this university’s Women’s Studies Department, as well as a great number of other members of the faculty and staff of this university, must be genuinely shocked to read a satirical column in an independent student newspaper. However, with all due respect to Professor Morris and the other members of the Political Correctness Police, lighten up (Blasting bigotry, Aug. 28).
As a Jew, I must admit that the stereotype of the Jewish American Princess is hardly flattering. Yet I am sure that we all know at least one such specimen and probably many other young women who fit the stereotype. Russ Rizzo’s piece wasn’t that funny, but it is very sad that we as an academic community seem to be losing our all-important sense of humor and sense of perspective in some of our responses to what amounts to bad humor writing.
I am also alarmed that Professor Morris has chalked up the accepting reaction of the Jewish staff of The Hatchet to a lack of pride rather than a balanced sense of humor. I am infinitely more offended by her insinuation about Jews who do not share her radical position than by any of Mr. Rizzo’s rantings. I am additionally surprised that Professor Morris was so quick to seize on Mr. Rizzo’s article as evidence of some sinister pattern of anti-Semitism aimed at Sen. Lieberman and the whole of American Jewry. I hardly suppose that she was so quick to see such a boiling conspiracy against rural Americans in the humor of Jeff Foxworthy or a similar indictment of collegians catalyzed by films such as Animal House or Road Trip.
This situation reminds me of an incident at the State University of New York at Albany. Last spring, that university planned a picnic in honor of baseball great Jackie Robinson. A group of forty students protested the use of the word picnic incorrectly asserting that the word referred to the lynching of blacks. Though the word is actually derived from a 17th century French term for an outdoor social gathering, Zaheer Mustafa, the university’s affirmative action director, asked student groups to refrain from using the word picnic. As Mustafa explained, Whether the claims are true or not, the point is the word offended.
In deference to the offended students, the University and participating student groups decided to replace the word picnic with the word outing. This action, in turn, provoked outrage among the university’s gay community. In the end, the university simply publicized the event without a noun to describe the proceedings.
Those of us in D.C. last February may also recall the dismissal of David Howard, an aide to Mayor Anthony Williams after he publicly used the word niggardly- meaning miserly or stingy – to describe some city appropriations. The mere homonymic similarity of the word to a racial slur triggered his firing, though he was eventually rehired after the national media publicized the story.
These stories would be amusing if only they were not true. Yet they are evidence of a pattern of repression of free speech in the name of preventing offense. I refuse to acquiesce to the censorship of political correctness, and I strongly encourage The Hatchet to stand by Mr. Rizzo’s satirical commentary. I call on the sensitized intellect in each of us to know a joke when we see it and to take it for what it is.
-The writer is a student in the five year BA/MA political science program.