SCU’s Brian Kesten plans student forum on Heckler, campus satire

Picture 3From the December Heckler

“Why is the only context for discussing race found in humor or satire at Georgetown? Why does so much satire at Georgetown target victims of hate crimes, discrimination, sexual assault or injustice?”

Those questions will be the subject of a forum to be held tomorrow night in the ICC at 8:30 p.m., which Student Commission on Unity Founder Brian Kesten (COL ’10) has organized in response to the latest issue of the satirical student-run Georgetown Hecklerwhich lampooned The Hoya in light of its controversial 2009 April Fools’ Issue, the Black Student Alliance—and other campus satire. Here’s the Facebook event.

“Possible topics may include: articulating the problem, discussing what should change,  deciding what we should do now and next semester,” the event description said.

In addition to the articles mentioned above, Kesten provided links to two other Heckler articles: “It’s not a hate crime if you love doing it,” a satirical op-ed by a fictional bigoted student, and “Take Back the Night concedes to Georgetown Cuddler in Solemn Surrender Ceremony,” which references the suspected serial sex offender known as the “Georgetown Cuddler” and Take Back the Night, an annual sexual assault awareness rally at Georgetown.

Kesten and many SCU members were involved in the overwhelming student response to the 2009 Hoya April Fools’ Issue, which many students charged contained stereotypes and content offensive to minorities and made light of sexual assault.

30 Comments on “SCU’s Brian Kesten plans student forum on Heckler, campus satire

  1. Jesus, Kresten should lighten up and stop being offended by every single thing. That Heckler article was hilarious, one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. There is no problem, nothing should change, the Heckler should continue being hilarious next semester. There. No need for some dumb forum.

  2. I’m pretty sure The Heckler is satirizing the hate crimes themselves, rather than the victims. Satirizing the crimes is one way to deal with them. Satire seems to be how we deal with a lot of things we find offensive or problematic, these days.

    And in case no one knows, last spring, one of the editors of The Heckler used the blog to explain the difference between satire and whatever junk The Hoya published.

  3. Agreed. The fact that an article satirizing the Hoya’s April Fools should garner the same reaction as the original Hoya article is ridiculous. Apparently SCUnity fails to see the irony of protesting a Heckler article targeting the very same article and environment they themselves originally protested against.

    From Wikipedia:
    “Satire often professes to approve (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist actually wishes to attack.”

  4. I’m sure that meeting will be awesome, especially with a bunch of humorless, angry people who are too slow to understand the nature of satire or the intent of the Heckler’s particular pieces. Oh, and it involves the tempestuous issue of campus race relations?! Sign me up!

  5. Why is the only context for discussing race found in humor or satire at Georgetown?
    ***Not true. There are a variety of panels, discussions, open mics that address these issues. The reason why satire gets so much attention is because it is often misconstrued, misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. The article was making fun of the way that racist tendencies are institutionalized on our campus, and no one does anything about it.

    Why does so much satire at Georgetown target victims of hate crimes, discrimination, sexual assault or injustice?”
    ***The satire is not targeted at the victims, but rather at the university, which does not protect them. If anything, The Heckler’s articles have been the most effective in calling-out the school for allowing the Cuddler attacks to continue, for not paying enough attention to LGBT attacks, etc.

  6. clearly kesten is engaging in performance satire, becoming a caricature of himself, to highlight the absurdity of protesting a satirical newspaper satirizing a real newspaper that failed at satire and triggered his earlier protests.

    it’s so totally meta!!

  7. The real irony here is that the Heckler has, in many ways, been the biggest crusader against the blatant racism of this campus. Like it or not, Georgetown has major segregation issues. The Hoya in its pitiful attempt at humor/satire succeeded only at bringing to light the fact that the white privileged class at this school has absolutely no respect for minorities. On the other hand, The Heckler, as a satire magazine, has done a great job of pushing the boundaries and calling out those who are to blame for their racist and completely inexcusable behavior. You want to take a quote out of context and call it racist? Be my guest, but don’t waste my time making news out of being upset by satirical pieces you don’t even spend enough time trying to figure out.

  8. +how dare somebody use satire to make fun of the general racial ignorance and intolerance demonstrated by the hoyas staff and generally by many members of the campus community? its totally inappropriate+

    + signs for those who dont understand the concept of satire

  9. All of you all have opinions and that’s great. But there’s a difference between people who hide behind internet comments and people who are adult enough to voice them in public. I look forward to seeing some of you at the forum. Or maybe not.

  10. Kesten et al need to remove the rods from their rear ends, grow up, and find something better to complain about. Aren’t student groups banned from meeting during finals anyway?

  11. Jheanelle: I will not be at the forum because my time will be better spent studying for my finals than trying to convince you that The Heckler isn’t the problem on campus.

    I was all up in arms about The Hoya thing, and I’m a liberal democrat and I’m pretty hyper-sensitive to racism, anti-semitism, sexism, ageism, pickone-ism. I spent more time complaining about the stereotypes in Disney movies than I spend enjoying the music. But I honestly think this is an over-reaction.

    Since you’ve *already decided* that The Heckler is “[targeting] victims of hate crimes, discrimination, sexual assault or injustice,” I don’t know why you can expect ANYONE who has commented on this page to show up.

  12. I totally agree with M. Rick Adams’ thoughtful and sophisticated satire is nothing short of compelling:

    “In a way, homos and I have a lot in common. Some people look down on them for sucking dicks all the time, but they love doing that. They couldn’t live if they didn’t have a dick in their mouths every five seconds. And I couldn’t live if they weren’t walking around alone all the time for me to beat into a bloody puree.”

    I don’t know how anyone could confuse the satire intended here? He is obviously maligning the lack of administrative pushback and the muted student response to the hate crimes on campus. Clearly, he is a master of satire. I wish I could write as eloquently. The imagery is fantastic. Bravo Rick bravo! You’re really making a difference.

    Note: Poorly done satire is often offensive (see: Rick Adams). If anything can be justified in the name of satire, people will inevitably try to justify patently offensive garbage (again, see: Rick Adams). It’s not funny, and its barely satire.

  13. the whole point is that the piece is making fun of the homophobe/assaulter and not homosexuals. thats why its different than the hoya, which was explicitly making fun of minorities.

  14. Oh please. These people do not understand that The Heckler was in fact supporting their issues with the Hoya and race relations in general. Satire is an effective way to show the absurdity of what is happening. It’s too bad that Kesten and that crowd are proving that very fact by making a mockery of themselves in protesting it.

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  16. To say that the Heckler is “supporting our issues” is the furthest one could possibly get from the truth. At first, the article looks to be supporting the claims of the minority community last semester that the Hoya was practicing racial discrimination. I’ll give you that point. However, this article in isolation is still much too horrific to ever think it would be appropriate to publish. As my roommate read it aloud to me, she had to stop at a point because it was physically sickening to read those words aloud. To us, this article was the equivalent to graphically making fun of the Holocaust, or 9/11. It simply should not occur.

    When placed in the context of the Heckler’s other work and the history of racial issues and campus publications in recent years, the article(s) become even more offensive, as it becomes blatantly obvious that the Heckler is not making fun of the Hoya for being racist; rather, it is making fun of Georgetown’s concerned students who care about racial inclusiveness and basic human dignity for “overreacting” to various issues of intolerance on campus. Thus, the claim that we are taking quotes “out of context” is completely false. When I did my research to discover the proper context, this is what I found:

    http://georgetownheckler.com/blog/2009/12/08/hoya-rugby-times-racism-watch-day-97/
    Notice that his count down is not days since the Hoya has been racist (which would be directed at the Hoya), but days since the Hoya has been protested for being racist (which is directed at the protesters). This makes it clear that the real issue he is picking at is the social activism of Black students. He is basically arguing that we complain too much and overreact to situations, and he clearly wrote this article to have us react and to further prove his point. However, what he is failing to understand is that there is a history of intolerance that we constantly have to fight behind our reactions. We refuse to be marginalized and discriminated against just because you have a lack of understanding surrounding races and issues outside of your own identity.

    http://georgetownheckler.com/wp/2009/12/black-student-alliance-asks-that-no-racial-misunderstanding-happen-on-campus-while-theyre-hanging-out-at-howard-for-the-weekend/
    If the first article was confusing in terms of who was truly being victimized, this makes it quite clear. He is poking fun at the Black community for always protesting and reacting to incidents of discrimination, and this trivializes all the issues for which we have been fighting so hard. It is truly disrespectful and has no place in a paper that is endorsed by Georgetown University.

    Finally, looking at the general work of the Heckler, including its many homophobic articles that include things like “God hates fags” and threatens violence against gay individuals, it becomes clear that the writers have some kind of vendetta against traditionally marginalized groups which they are trying to express through “journalism.” We all go to Georgetown University. We’re quite intelligent. It’s not that we don’t understand satire; in fact there are several English majors leading the current fight. We simply refuse to allow Georgetown students with clear agendas against minority and homosexual students to make bigoted remarks under the guise of “satire.” I don’t care what you call it, racism is racism, and if I were a prospective student of a minority race, I would be disgusted by the Heckler’s articles to the point that I would probably reconsider coming here, simply because the university’s name is on such an offensive publication. Because I am a proud senior, however, I want to make sure Georgetown is a welcoming place for all those who are to come after me. For this reason, I must stand up.

    And one other thing – trying to put the focus on Brian Kesten is completely unwarranted, and is meant to attack our movement by trivializing our concerns and claiming that “Brian Kesten et al” complain about everything. The reality is, as many of you have pointed out, Georgetown can be an incredibly segregated and racially intolerant place at times. There are many student leaders on campus who actively fight daily to change this culture of Georgetown to a more inclusive one, more respectful of human dignity. Brian Kesten is one of these people – he is not a caricature or a figurehead to shoot down. He is one of many committed individuals such as the leaders of MEChA, NAACP, AASA, BSA, PRIDE, Solidarity, United Feminists, etc., who are unwilling to put up with bigotry and discrimination on our campus. Stop trying to make this about one person – it shows your ignorance to what’s really going on.

  17. Yeah…I’m extremely sick of being lectured about how racist and horrible our campus is. Like don’t get me wrong, I thought the Hoya’s April Fool Edition crossed the line, but Ellie Gunderson, please stop finding “causes” to get behind and do something productive with your life. You people go to one of the best universities in the country, show some pride and some appreciation for it please. Social activism is one thing, but making an issue where there isn’t one is quite another. The Heckler was clearly making fun of the Hoya for being racist. Now if a lampooned drawing of a KKK member makes you “physically ill”, then please grow up. Horrible things have been done to various peoples throughout history, but that doesn’t give anyone license to be this sensitive. Brian Kesten is the last in a very long line of individuals who seek to foment discord and disunity for their own egos. I can’t stand him, or what he’s doing to this campus.

  18. Ellie, your attempt to research the context, while appreciated, ultimately fell short of actually understanding what is happening here. The continued posts that Jack has made indicating the number of days since The Hoya has been protested is pointed directly at The Hoya for its racist and inappropriate behavior. You can find a full explanation of his reaction to The Hoya’s April Fools issue here: http://georgetownheckler.blogspot.com/2009/04/hoya-gets-theirs.html. It’s actually quite well written and very clear what his stance is.

    In terms of the research you did on the site, I can assure you that you are again misunderstanding things. The article about hate crimes is not inciting violence against homosexuals. In fact, it’s point is the opposite. The character whose mouth this is coming out of comes across as insane and sociopathic, rather than glorified. Anyone that reads that as encouraging hate crimes is as ignorant as the character it’s supposed to be coming from.

    And as for the article about the Hoya, that too is clearly directed at the racism of the Hoya. The article about black students comes directly out of a completely inappropriate response heard more than once after The Hoya’s April Fools issue, which was that this was bound to happen because there are no black staff writers for The Hoya (or at least there weren’t at the time of the April Fools issue). The insinuation that white people can’t stop being racist when minorities are not around is the subject of the BSA article, not that their claims of racism are absurd or sensationalist. Furthermore, I think it points to the self-segregation that has occurred on campus. There used to be a facebook group called “I Party At Howard” created by black students who said they preferred partying at Howard to Georgetown.

    Making fun of the holocaust may be an inappropriate target for satire, but a satirical op-ed by a holocaust denier exposing the ludicrousness of his position could be an excellent satirical piece, even though out of context it would provide horrifying soundbites.

    Quite honestly, the idea that the Heckler, a satirical campus magazine, could have any vested interest in attacking minorities is beyond any need for rebuttal. I find the ultimate irony of this whole situation to be the growing intolerance of people who claim to champion tolerance and equality. If you don’t find it funny, then that’s fine. But don’t twist something to support your cause, when, again ironically, you’re attacking people already in your own camp.

  19. georgetown must be in dire straits if it has students who don’t understand how to correctly interpret satire.

  20. Let us also be clear that the Georgetown Hecker, though it is produced by students and alumni of the University, is not in any way endorsed or affiliated with the University. It is not distributed on University property, and does not make use of any University trademarks in its name. Indeed, in the About section of the Heckler site (http://georgetownheckler.com/wp/about/), the publication makes it clear that “The Georgetown Heckler is not affiliated with Georgetown University.”

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  22. Personal attacks on people you disagree with, including assertions that they don’t understand satire, are not valid defenses of the article in question and do not serve to further your argument at all.

  23. For one thing, I think its ridiculous that people still think The Hoya is racist. The Hoya tried to publish a satirical piece, just like the Heckler (Granted, it’s not in The Hoya’s mission on campus to do such a thing). Yet so many people comment on this blaming The Hoya and defending the Heckler. It just doesn’t make sense.

    I understand that this is a polarizing issue, but you can’t be on both sides at once. You’re either someone who believes that these types of articles are hateful and should not be published or you feel that free speech is an argument to be made here.

    But please, try to be intelligent Georgetown students and realize that you can’t defend The Heckler without defending The Hoya when you’re comparing apples to apples.

  24. @BS – you’re kidding, right? that, or your critical reading capabilities are sorely lacking. the crucial difference between the hoya’s “satire” and the heckler’s is the subject of each. the hoya’s piece (so many were offensive, but let’s pick one – how about “interracial loving”) chose to satirize brian kesten, and by extension, interracial relationships, in effect saying that these were two things to be ridiculed. the heckler, on the other hand, was making fun of the hoya’s obliviousness to the racist implications of what they satirized. satirical form does not take off the table scrutiny of the piece, nor does it exonerate the author from its contentions. the issue is not that the hoya attempted satire (which they shouldn’t), or that it was poorly done (which it was). the issue is what they chose to satire (interracial relations and brian kesten, who works to promote diversity on campus) and the ultimate point that came out of the satire, namely that these things were silly.

    This is a polarizing issue because of morons like you, who choose to generalize and insist that people take sides, rather than actually think critically and contextualize individual issues. please, try to be intelligent.

  25. Horrible people that do this type of stuff. Immature…find another way to get attention Heckler folks…

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