Incontinent Donkey’s editor explains inclusion of incendiary material
By biconews On 1 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Judy Lin

Dear members of the community,


If only it were that simple. But it’s not, because nothing is simple anymore, least of all apologies. (I am aware this is late, and that is not my fault. The story behind the lateness is confusing and I will not point fingers. I hate pointing fingers - as much as they deserve to have fingers pointed at them - almost as much as I hate final exams and homework.)

Last month at the Ira De A. Reid House there was a meeting to discuss the reasons why last semester’s issue of the Incontinent Donkey sported a picture and two jokes that were very derogatory and offensive. The ex-chief editor attempted to explain that he’d meant it as satire, that he was sorry people didn’t see it that way, that he didn’t think that people would be offended, et cetera et cetera. And all through the meeting people kept bombarding him with scathing questions and eloquent speeches, all of which pointed to one thing: We were wrong to put the picture and the jokes in.

Which I will not contend. My own feelings towards the picture were of relative indifference. I’ve been made fun of since I was in first grade for being Oriental, and by the time I was in eighth grade I decided that if I were offended by what the bullies said, I was only perpetuating their fun and enforcing their idea that they were right and I was wrong.

The same mentality applied to the picture. As for the jokes about the handicapped, I didn’t understand them until the meeting when their significance was finally revealed to me (I am, you see, terribly naive in some respects, and people who know me know this).

Oh, I made my opinion (that the picture didn’t offend me but it might offend other people) known to the other editors, who were mostly seniors. I think if I’d felt personally offended by the picture they wouldn’t have put it in, but it’s too late to ponder the “what-ifs” of the situation as we sat in Roberts 11 scrounging through the computer files trying to compile everything we had that night. You might say I stood outside consensus. And besides, they were seniors. They had to know what they were doing, right?

Humor used to be such a simple issue. You made fun of cafeteria food, teachers you didn’t like, bad drivers and bodily emissions. Okay, so there was the oblique joke about sex and some about the dictators of the world, but they were all relatively innocuous and good at keeping eight-year-olds satisfied that they knew something “dirty.”

Now, it’s more complex. Namely, how do you cross the line when there is no line to cross? Would it have been more acceptable if we had a picture of a Klansman being drawn and quartered and a caption that had read “Warning to Non-Believers of the First Amendment”?

I don’t know. I have a gut feeling that such a picture as the one I’ve described would be more readily accepted by the community, which leads to a most interesting paradox. At Haverford, one is encouraged to speak out about one’s opinions, but if one’s opinion is in discordance with the rest of the community, one is immediately encouraged to surrender that opinion and utter an apology. But I am going to discuss inherent twists in logic even if the above statement is completely true. It is certainly true to some extent.

This apology, though, has not been wrenched from an unwilling soul. In fact, I have physics problems and about a hundred pages of reading I could have been doing in the time it took me to write this. I am sorry for having erred for being so naive as to think that seniors know more than a freshman and that the editing staff made a very idiotic decision. I hope that nobody will let this get the better of them this semester, but, at the same time, I also hope that everybody who was involved (and even those who weren’t) can come away from this issue having learned something about the community.

Judy Lin

HC ’03

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