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Angry at satire? Then it’s working

By Peter Kranitz

I would like to begin by reiterating my statement from Nov. 4 about the article published in the Backdoor on Nov. 3 titled “New study finds LC actually has Athletics department.” The piece, which was a work of satire, was not intended to delegitimize or denigrate student athletes. The Pioneer Log is by and for students and is intended to represent their voices, not to offend or alienate members of the campus community.

That being said, the PioLog is also intended to inform students of issues on and around campus, and one way that this occurs is through satire. Satire is more than just a series of jokes; to paraphrase a cliche, it holds a mirror to its subject, reflecting its warts and imperfections in an exaggerated and fictionalized manner. It is intended to jolt people out of idle complacency by showing a caricature of reality and indicating aspects of it that could be improved. When executed effectively, satire elicits strong reactions; indignation and frustration come with the territory. My hope for the Backdoor is that it can harness these responses and galvanize individuals into remedying issues that affect the community.

The Backdoor article from Nov. 3 satirized the existing divide between student athletes and the rest of the non-varsity student body, an issue reported on in a factual context in the Sports section earlier this semester. The satirical piece indicated the absurdity of this divide and pointed at ways that it manifests itself around campus. Some of the jokes could admittedly be seen as offensive, but the majority of the piece consisted of reasonable criticism of the way that students at Lewis & Clark interact with each other. Given this, the backlash against the piece shows that the satire worked.

With the benefit of hindsight, I do not believe that the PioLog reacted appropriately in retracting and censoring the piece. In doing so, we attempted to silence student voices and shut down important debate about the culture of our campus. Fortunately, the article had already sparked countless conversations across the community about the divide between athletes and the rest of campus, as well as about the purpose of satire and the role of student media. The reactions and  responses we received, all of which are printed here, are multifaceted and only represent a small portion of students’ reactions. The Nov. 3 article may be the most effective piece of satire in LC’s history.

The Pioneer Log encourages feedback from the community.

Please send letters to the editor to

piolog@lclark.edu

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