Inside our pages: April Fool’s has long history

The reviews are in. Some were disgusted, some were insulted but the overwhelming majority of our readers who contacted us have taken the April Fool’s issue of The Snatchet in the spirit it was delivered. We were crude, impolite and crass, but we just wanted to make you laugh.

Some of the most frequent questions we get about the issue are: How can you get away with that? Why do you have to be so profane? Who’s idea was it? Put simply: Independence makes The Hatchet fully responsible for its own actions; we are not as creative as Bill Cosby; and I don’t know.

The April Fool’s issue has a long tradition. In the 1960s and ’70s it was annually called The Tomahawk. The 1965 issue ran a front-page story about the University banning drinking on campus (ironic). In 1974, The Tomahawk ran a joke ad for a University president: “Persons must . meet with at (sic) least one student leader during tenure at university, plan the demolition of at least three townhouses and implement master plan featuring architectural atrocities.”

In 1988, The GW Whack It ran a staff editorial titled “GW sucks” alongside a profanity-packed letter from “George Carlin.” The lead story was about University President Lloyd Elliott giving birth to a baby. The 1991 Fake-It ran a photo of University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg with a caption reading, “Money, money, money. Being able to say I run a multimillion dollar corporation.” And that was all before the paper’s independence in 1993.

Many readers have asked why we change names in articles, because they make it hard to figure out who is being ridiculed. The obvious answer is that it is added legal protection from any libel suits that might arise. But we also do it because the issue is not meant to be a collection of personal attacks. We hope that changing names makes it a little easier for people to take and have found that few students covered in the issue are caught off guard.

After helping to put out four joke issues at The Hatchet, I realize there will always be critics with good reasons why such “filth” should not be printed. But then the readers who enjoy the break from serious news, and even people who get a laugh out of a public jab at themselves, give their approval with laughs in class.

I ask readers who are alarmed at such inflammatory content to put the April Fool’s issue in context of its long history and the dependable, serious journalism we deliver twice weekly during the school year. If it didn’t cheat a chuckle out of you, then consider the job unfinished for next year’s staff.

-The writer, a senior majoring in journalism, is Hatchet editor in chief.

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