Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A violent parody 

The parody newspaper is a staple of college campuses (and the origin of National Lampoon.) The use of satire is typically respected in academia, such as Moo or the Microcosmographia Academica. Students use it often, sometimes with hilarious intent. Their humor being a little coarser and less guarded, it gets them into some hot water from time to time.

But Colorado College seems to have gone mad by calling one such parody "violat[ed] the student code of conduct policy on violence" even though the violence was "implied". To understand the parody, you need to see first the original, and then the parody. (Both link to a landing page first from FIRE -- be warned that the .pdfs linked use language typical of college parody pages, so use good judgment when and where to view.)

It appears the college took exception to a reference to the range of a sniper rifle and to the parody of a discussion of "packing" with "chainsaw etiquette." CC President Richard Celeste is somehow taking the view that public apologies are not sanctions (as reported in Inside Higher Ed):
Colorado College values and fosters freedom of expression, and in discussions with students regarding �The Monthly Bag,� has encouraged further dialogue about freedom of speech issues on campus. The students involved in creating this publication were found to have violated the college community�s standards, but they were not sanctioned or punished. Instead, they were urged to engage the college community in more inclusive dialogue, debate and discussion on freedom of speech, and through a letter to the editor of the student newspaper and other actions, they are doing so.
Such forward thinking: If you "imply violence" you are "urged to engage the college community in more inclusive dialogue." About what? The College's own statement on Freedom of Expression says:
As a private institution, Colorado College is a voluntary association of persons invited to membership with the understanding that they will respect the principles, which governs the college. Freedom of thought and expression is essential to any institution of higher learning. Uncensored speech - which does not include a right to harass, injure, or silence others - is essential in an academic community and will be vigorously defended. Members of the college community should understand those standards of civility, consideration, and tolerance must shape our interactions with each other. Infringing upon the expression of views, either by interfering with a speaker or by defacing or removing properly posted or distributed notices or materials, will not be tolerated.
Emphasis added. Which document, Rag or Bag, harasses, injures, or silences, President Celeste?