Faculty Senate passes a resolution condemning The Heckler

The Georgetown Heckler isn’t out of the woods yet. Following a letter from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, and two campus-wide e-mails—one from University President John DeGioia and one from Provost James O’Donnell—the Georgetown University Faculty Senate has issued some excoriating words of its own about the December incident involving Heckler articles that some students found offensive.

On Friday, January 22, the Senate passed the following resolution:

We, the Georgetown University Faculty Senate, within the framework of respect for the right to free expression, as determined by the law, and to academic freedom, as determined by the Georgetown community, unequivocally condemn the abuse of such rights. We declare it our common view that the December 12th Georgetown Heckler article, “The Hoya holds annual cross lighting ceremony in Dahlgren quad,” was such an abuse because of its use of egregiously hurtful visual and verbal images that emphasized hate and dehumanization.

We urge President DeGioia and the rest of the University community to join us in condemning this abuse and in reaffirming Georgetown’s commitment to the Cura Personalis, with its “individualized attention to the needs of the other” and its “distinct respect for his or her unique circumstances and concerns.” (Georgetown University Mission & Ministry Statement) In violating those principles, this article was an affront to our entire community, particularly its African-American members, who were the specific targets of its bigotry. Claims of innocent intent do not lessen the impact of these racist images, which rub salt in wounds still fresh in the minds of many Americans, of all races.

We further condemn the unconscionable assault on common decency made by the inclusion of a fully identified child in this article. No possible intent can justify such a disgraceful debasement of our common discourse. We urge the author and editors to apologize to President DeGioia and his family for this outrage.

The offending article is still available on the Heckler‘s website here.

Reporting by Will Sommer

Image from the Georgetown Heckler blog

19 Comments on “Faculty Senate passes a resolution condemning The Heckler

  1. See why do they condemn this but not condemn the Petraeus protesters?

  2. The revolution will not be televised, but it will be passed by the Faculty Senate.

  3. This whole spectacle has been embarrassing. Everyone’s tripping over each other in order to be the most self-righteous, and at no point have any of the offended parties seemed interested in considering the Heckler’s side of the story. None of our campus institutions have the courage to take an unpopular stance in defense of free speech and (well-written) satire. No one was “targeted” by this article. It wasn’t bigoted. It wasn’t hateful. It was satire.

    This is especially incredible considering that the article was mocking racial insensitivity. But I’m sure the irony wasn’t lost on the pompous hairdos who demanded A Swift And Appropriate Response.

  4. Glad to know we’re not the only ones passing toothless resolutions, but at least we’re not getting paid.

  5. Every faculty member involved in this should be fired. What absolute fucking nonsense.

  6. I would define a serious concern as something that makes members of the Georgetown community, who are equal to you and me, feel uncomfortable – which this article clearly did. After reading the article several times, the satire was confusing at best and to me, only accentuated serious tensions on campus.

    Racism and hate is not only a sensitive issue, but a pressing one that threatens Georgetown’s integrity. The Heckler may not have meant to derogate students on campus, but the process of writing, publishing, and defending an article that IS offensive with such nonchalance has no place here.

    http://georgetownheckler.com/wp/2009/11/op-ed-it’s-not-a-hate-crime-if-you-love-doing-it/

    http://georgetownheckler.com/wp/2009/12/thing-made-more-social-justicey-to-get-past-administration/

  7. Um. A “serious concern” is something that makes you “feel uncomfortable”? First of all, that’s a very low bar to set.

    Secondly, how on earth can an article that *mocks* racism, mocks racial insensitivity, and mocks the Hoya for both of those things be characterized as hostile to any member of the university community? Mocking racism is NOT the same thing as being racist.

    Nor was the article mocking the very serious issues of things like cross burning – instead, the article is very clearly directed AGAINST people who don’t recognize how such things could be hurtful. The article is not intended to be offensive; nor is it targeted against anyone (except dumb Hoya writers). And the *content* (which is the thing that seems to be offending people) is employed in the service of mocking those who lack sensitivity to delicate racial issues.

    And I’m sorry, but I can hardly stand to hear any more holier-than-thou remarks about how this “has no place” at Georgetown. Good satire is edgy. Its job is to toe the line, to make absurd demonstrations in order to illuminate some delicate issue that we have difficulty discussing candidly. If anything, you could argue that the Heckler’s articles are the only honest discussion of these topics that has occurred in a student publication in the last couple of years – which, I think, is a sad commentary on the state of serious, frank, and thoughtful dialogue on this campus.

    This has revealed (simultaneously) the campus’s quietly-enforced PC censorship and the intellectual laziness that such censorship engenders: whenever this sort of thing happens, everyone breathlessly discusses “the scandal,” some people (mostly the usual suspects) attend a “community forum” where everyone knows little real discussion will take place, a few Vox commenters and letter-writers tut-tut and wag their fingers and declare that “this has no place here,” but hardly anyone is willing to put their name on an editorial saying “You know what? This was a funny article. It was a well-written piece of satire. And most importantly, it says something really true about racial insensitivity at ‘The Hoya,’ and among the student body generally.”

    But that will never happen, because if anyone’s thinking of doing it, they know what the consequences will be. No one wants to be seen as the defender of an article that Responsible Hoyas – as well as the Faculty Senate, the Provost, the President, and the VP for Student Affairs – have deemed hateful, offensive, and even racist. The people who insist on these ridiculous community forums say they want dialogue. That’s hard to believe when they’re the same people who hastily issued a press release in which a GU professor (in case you’re reading this, Dr. Palacios, you’re a vicious coward) called one of our fellow Hoyas “racist.” Without, apparently, bothering to get his side of the story. That’s some dialogue.

    Everyone involved in this farce owes Jack Stuef an apology, and he should be commended for putting up with their antics with grace and patience. Georgetown has shown that it’s not open-minded, intelligent, or mature enough for a real and honest discussion of these issues, and as someone who loves this university I find that very sad.

  8. Does anyone understand this part: “We further condemn the unconscionable assault on common decency made by the inclusion of a fully identified child in this article.”

    I’m reading the article, and can’t find the name of any real people, if that’s what the resolution means.

  9. A Buried Treasure by David Benedetto

    Recently, I had the good fortune of stumbling across a Georgetown “hidden gem,” or a “buried treasure,” or a “Carefully Concealed Awesomeness,” as you may prefer. My roommate approached me one morning last week and said, as he is wont to do,

    “You know what you’d enjoy, David, The Georgetown Heckler. Because if there’s one thing I think of when I think of you, it’s Making Racist Statements. If there’s a second thing, it’s poorly made videos of naked people running across Key Bridge. But let’s focus on that first one.”

    He then showed me to a “computer,” where I looked up the Heckler on the “Internet.” My goodness, what a delightful romp! I was treated to a funny article on “racism,” and another on “cross burning.” Ha-ha! It’s a good thing we have these humorists to save us from the syndicated cartoonists. I’m looking at you, Jim Davis. Try some racism for a change–maybe THAT will improve readership!

    Jon: Oh, hi, Garfield. I’m making lasagna! Would you like some?

    Garfield: Sure, but let me finish engaging in this act of racism first.

    Nermal: Ha-ha! Racism.

    Odie: Bark!

    Pretty funny stuff, right?

    I would go so far as to say these Heckler guys do satire better than Stephen Colbert. When Colbert tells jokes about gays, I can see right through his “impression” of Bill O’Reilly. His façade is so thin, and it’s so painfully clear that he’s a tree-hugging, gay-hugging, momma-hugging liberal that it shouldn’t even be called satire! In lovely contrast, when the Heckler team does satire, they can make anyone think that they’re racists. Sometimes they’re so good at it that I think that they actually ARE racists. That’d be pretty funny, huh? Journalism infused with racism. What’ll come next? A black president? Just kidding everyone—no need to panic.

    More power to you guys!

    As I delved deeper into the “website” for the Heckler, I found some more gems! There was an informative article on making things “social justice-y.” Ho, boy. Let me tell you. If there’s one thing I enjoy over a cold bowl of Toasty-O’s at my PC in the morning, it’s a good-natured jab at the people trying to improve the world. Just think how funny late-night talk shows would be if we did this more often!

    Conan O’Brien: Mr. Shatner, you’re on our show so much. Do you do anything other than wait backstage to come on?

    William Shatner: I do, Conan. This morning throwing eggs at a local soup kitchen.

    Conan O’Brien: Ha-ha. You’re so crazy and old. But seriously, hard-boiled or soft?

    Call me a ROTFL-Copter, because the hilarity just never seems to end on the “Internet.” When I checked out some previous issues, I found a rib-tickler on hate crimes! Hey, if folk can’t get together and laugh at gay people getting hurt, what can they do? It’s just like America’s Funniest Home Videos, only instead of a dude’s genitalia connecting with a tree limb, it connects with a straight guys steel-toed boot.

    It’s not like the gay people are hurt by hate crimes. They’re gay. In addition to meaning “Person who wants to erode the morals of straight society” it means “happy.” How could a happy person be upset about hate crimes. Seriously.

    Heckler, you fulfill all my comedy needs. Why, I even found a video of a naked man running across Key Bridge! Imagine my delight!

    I just want to commend the Heckler on its fine taste in humor and recommend it to all of my friends. I know it’s a busy time of year for everyone, but a great way to relieve some stress is to log on to the ol’ “series of tubes” and laugh at some racism. ‘Cos man, if there’s one thing that’s acceptable, it’s joking about hate.

  10. @ / / /: I find it hard to believe you have a problem with “call[ing] one of our fellow Hoyas ‘racist.’” People throw that accusation around all the time, including at writers for the hoya they’ve never met (since they were conveniently anonymous), and no one seems to care about those students being targeted for being racist.

    As for the rest of your post, the point that got made at the forum is that Jack Steuf co-opted symbols of an extremely painful history that doesn’t belong to him to try to “edgily” prove a point he’s already flogged to death. I actually agree that the public censure of Jack should end since I don’t think it adds anything to the debate, but people have a problem with the article and you don’t get to tell them not to.

    Also, get over it. No one listens to the Faculty Senate anyway.

  11. I agree with what /// says. And (s)he’s right – I don’t want to be publicly known as the defender of the Heckler or these articles. Too much guilt by implication.

    What this entire argument seems to boil down to is the following:

    The Manufactured Outrage Crew: OMG this article is racist because it is meant to be humorous and uses the KKK and cross burning YOU CANNOT JOKE ABOUT THAT STUFF

    Opposing views: Actually, there are countless examples of such satire out there, produced by professional political cartoonists and the like. It takes 10 seconds to Google this. Remember all those cartoons that showed Trent Lott or Michael Richards as Klansmen or compare various events to lynching? Satire is meant to be provocative, and if some people are discomfited by it, then that’s the price we pay in a free society for having thought-provoking expression.

    The Manufactured Outrage Crew: …RACIST!

    In some ways, this reminds me of the whole debate over “should we try to kill/ban the ‘N’ word or ‘queer” vs. “should we try to reclaim it and remove its hurtful power.” Guess which side has won that argument.

  12. “As for the rest of your post, the point that got made at the forum is that Jack Steuf co-opted symbols of an extremely painful history that doesn’t belong to him to try to “edgily” prove a point he’s already flogged to death.”

    Um, history doesn’t “belong” to anyone.

  13. “Also, get over it. No one listens to the Faculty Senate anyway.”

    Fair enough – but this:

    ” / / /: I find it hard to believe you have a problem with “call[ing] one of our fellow Hoyas ‘racist.’””

    No, I really do, and I think a lot of other people do as well. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to talk about difficult topics (which is vital at a university, of all places) when the whole dialogue process BEGINS with an accusation of racism. That accusation tends to shut everyone up and kill any prospect for frank discussion, because everyone becomes terrified of being labeled a racist because they didn’t agree with the Outrage Crew. Now, of course, there are actual racists out there, and we shouldn’t overlook racism when we encounter it. But if we say we want a campus dialogue, we must realize that the urge to feel morally satisfied could, at the very least, be delayed until tempers have cooled and an actual discussion has taken place.

    Jack Stuef was never given the benefit of that dialogue process, despite the very pious declarations of his attackers. He had been called racist in a fairly widely-disseminated press release before the community forum took place, and like I said before, it’s incredible that he agreed to so patiently and politely discuss the issue with people who were obviously more interested in attacking him than understanding his piece or talking to him about it.

    It’s actually really troubling to me that a member of the university faculty couldn’t be bothered to get the whole story before calling a GU student racist. What does that say about the school’s commitment to intellectual openness and engagement? What does it say about the faculty’s loyalty to the student body (instead of their loyalty towards feeling self-satisfied and enjoying a few minutes of easy moral superiority?)

    And for a campus obsessed with producing the next generation of Important People, what does it say about our generation’s ability to get beyond the destructive, pointless, shallow shout-fests that pass for discussion of racial issues in our society? If you don’t think there’s a link between how these events play out on major college campuses and how they will one day play out in society, I don’t really know what to tell you.

  14. I will defend the Heckler’s article. Those of you who insist on being “offended” by everything should get a life. You sound pathetic and ignorant.

  15. AND ANOTHER THING. We need to remove all copies of “Huckleberry Finn” and references to it from Lauinger and Georgetown’s curriculum because its depiction of racist images and liberal use of the word “nigger” rub salt in the wounds still fresh in the minds of many Americans who prefer their bigotry remain out of sight and therefore out of mind.

  16. This whole thing is a hilarious farce in and of itself.
    The more you laugh at something, the less meaning it has.
    People here need to get off their high horses and just GET HIGH. Seriously. Smoke a bowl. You need to RELAX.

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