Johns Hopkins News-Letter Issues "Sincere Apology" For "Satirical" ArticleS

The editors of the Johns Hopkins News-Letter have issued an apology for a piece titled "Local Bison Bear All At Psi Kappa Psi Lingerave," noting that it "was deliberately written as a satirical piece."

Taken as a satire, we had hoped the article would be accepted for what it is, a criticism of a depthless, flawed and real culture of thought that persists in the minds of many students. For many, the article achieved no such purpose. It served only as a tool to fan the flames of insecurity. It is on these grounds that The News-Letter issues its sincere apology.

I also find this statement a bit interesting:

Opinion articles do not represent the opinion of the newspaper and are labeled as such. That said, it is the responsibility of the editors to make sure that the speech promoted is not hateful. On this occasion, we failed.

considering that the author of said Opinion piece is, in fact, a Managing Editor of the publication.

Though we apologize for the harm the article did, we will not apologize for the intent of the article. No person should be subject to insult and harassment because of his appearance. In this vein, it is shocking that students still stigmatize one another on artificial grounds. One would have to look very hard to find a person at Hopkins who has not heard critical and vicious comments about a fellow student's body type. Many people dismiss these statements as jokes of minor consequence; still others embrace these views themselves. All the while, those who are on the other side of these comments internalize them. Beaten up by the inhumanity of words, many even try to conform to some artificial standard of beauty propagated by a superficial mass. We perceived the article in question to tackle this issue. We thought that it put a mirror to the face of perpetrators of mean speech. We thought that these people would look searchingly into themselves and reconsider passing hateful judgment.

I'm not entirely surprised that the "it was satire" explanation/apology was issued, though I am surprised that anyone at the paper could actually read that piece and think that the language and tone of the piece conveyed any type of humor or satirical intent whatsoever. There was also no disclaimer on the piece, and, though the editors claim they stand behind "the intent" of the article, it has since been removed from the site. The apology, it should be noted, is only applied to the "Bison" piece, which depicted "fat chicks" at frat parties as "mammoths" and "hippo," amongst other things. Another piece we discussed earlier this morning, "Banging Under The Influence: The Ups and Downs," is still up on the site, though the comments on the piece, which were up earlier today, have since been disabled.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming this was just a giant satirical attempt gone wrong, it's frustrating that nobody on staff recognized that what the author considered to be "obscenely grandiose writing" isn't too far off from the type of nasty comments that women are faced with regularly in society. When your "satire" reads as a devastatingly realistic depiction of the type of language, judgment, and campus culture that many women have to face on a regular basis, as opposed to an indictment of misogyny, sexism, and cruelty, it's a little hard for people to laugh. It's not as funny when you're on the other side, and the "joke" happens to be the same backwards bullshit you're forced to deal with in your everyday life.

The editors claim that they wanted to mock that cruel and misogynist culture and open a discussion about it, and I hope, if nothing else, that this entire incident does, in fact, open campus discussions regarding the power of words and the sad realities that allegedly led this editor to pen the piece in the first place. Sadly, you won't be able to have that discussion under this apology post: the comments have been disabled.

From The News-Letter Editorial Board [JHU News-Letter]

Earlier: Johns Hopkins Student Paper Would Like Women To Know How Fat And Terrible They Are