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Okay, I guess this one requires a bit of explanation. I knocked around Brown U. for five or six years before finally dropping out for good (?) in...I guess it would be '96.
Skip a few years in there... In early spring of 2001, neocon racial
Horowitz includes Brown in the list for his little social
experiment/publicity stunt -- a full-page paid ad in campus papers
with the catchy title Why Racial
Reparations for Blacks Are a Bad Idea, and Racist too. Brown
responds all too
typically, with a
mob, excuse me coalition
of students stealingconfiscating all copies of a
subsequent issue of the campus paper as some sort of weird retaliation
(they call it a "protest").
After a couple days of trying to parse the tangled rhetoric explaining why what they did was a blow for freedom and justice, and that their right to never see offensive material had been violated; and after watching the school administration's typically gutless response, the following work gurgled forth from my pen in the wee small hours, and got e-mailed to the Brown Daily Herald that very day. They never responded, and I can hardly say I blame them.
To the Editor:
I read with interest in the Boston Globe, and then in the BDH, about The Coalition's decision to act decisively in protecting Brown's student population from misleading and dangerous ideas, and in teaching the BDH a much-needed lesson in the importance of respect.
This was a bold step toward a campus free of disturbing or contrary ideas and information. Now that the process has begun, it's time to take a few steps back and decide on a larger plan.
In the long term, we may wish to consider whether it is only college students who need to be shielded from rude and disrespectful thoughts, or whether perhaps everyone in the nation is in need of such protection. In the meantime, a plan-of-action is needed for giving current undergraduates the protection they so urgently need.
I'm no historian, and Brown's experts in the field are urged to correct any inaccuracies in my analysis, but my layman's understanding is that the task of protecting people from harmful information has traditionally been approached in one of two manners.
The first is called prior protection. In this system, representatives of your organization view all intended-for-publication materials before they go to press, and delete any offending passages. This method is admirably thorough, and particularly useful for blocking the dissemination of concrete information such as references to unacceptable persons or events, or the dates and times of forbidden political rallies, lectures on forbidden topics, etc.. Disadvantages include the substantial workforce involved in approving all documents by hand, and the ability of coded or subtle messages to occasionally pass unhampered.
The second, and probably more appropriate, method is protection-after-the-fact. In this approach, persons or organizations who violate the often-unwritten standards are taught the proper respect after their crime has been committed. When properly applied, most publications will soon be too respectful of the protector's concerns to even approach dangerous topics at all.
Another advantage of this method is that, whereas the former requires the support of a bureaucracy and legal code, this one works almost equally well as an arm of the administration, or as an informal citizen's group. Note, however, that such groups in this country have generally found it useful to adopt a distinctive uniform as a means of fostering "team spirit" and protecting the identities of the more delicately-positioned members of the group.
The disadvantage of this method, of course, is that the occasional malevolent or brainwashed individual will inevitably get his or her message out before being taught the value of respect. All the more important, then, for examples to be made of such reprobates so that the student population can once again feel safe.
These of course are merely the broadest outlines of the policy decisions ahead of you as the newly self-appointed protectors of student minds. I leave the details in your capable hands, and look forward, with keen and sincere interest, as you lead our University into the future.
Sebastian Banker, B'95.5
<P>Chico: Wazzat? You a-calling to retract your confession? </P> <P>Groucho: Concession </P> <P>Chico: Too much pennance? Hokay, I make-a you deal: I take it down to <em>four</em> "hail mary"s and <em>six</em> "our father"s. I promise-you not-a find a better deal anywhere. </P> <P>Groucho: Con<em>ce</em>ssion. I'm still running for president. </P> <P>Chico: Let me get-a this straight. You not-a-gonna say no hail marys. </P> <P>Groucho: No.</P> <P>Chico: You not-a-gonna say no our fathers. </P> <P>Groucho: No. </P> <P>Chico: <em>And</em> you still wanna be president of the Electrician's College. </P> <P>Groucho: Something like that. </P> <P>Chico: Can you <em>do</em> that? </P> <P>Groucho: Of course I can. </P> <P>Groucho: [aside] I can do that, can't I? </P> <P>Warren Christopher: I think so. </P> <P>Groucho: [more confidently] Of course I can. </P> <P>Chico: [aside] Can he do that?</P> <P>Zeppo: I don't think so. </P> <P>Chico: [very confidently] Jebbo says you can't-a-do that. </P> <P>Groucho: [with vast patience] Let me explain something to you. Your younger brother has no controlling leg-- I mean, your younger brother is not the boss of me. </P> <P>Chico: So you not-a-gonna confess. </P> <P>Groucho: Concede. </P> <P>Chico: Yeah, dat. Hokay, I make-a you deal: you confess, I get to be president of the Electrical Cabbage. [silence] </P> <P>Groucho:That's the deal? What's in it for me? </P> <P>Chico: You don't got to say no-a hail marys. </P> <P>Groucho: No, I don't like that deal. How about this: We split Florida fifty-fifty. </P> <P>Chico: Even-steven? </P> <P>Groucho: Even-steven. </P> <P>Chico: Fifty-fifty? </P> <P>Groucho: Fifty-fifty. </P> <P>Chico: Do I get-a Ft. Lauderdale? </P> <P>Groucho: No, but you get Disneyland. </P> <P>Chico: Well dat-a sounds pretty...Wait-a second. Who gets the expectoral cauliflower? </P> <P>Groucho: Well... I do. But I'll throw in New Hampshire, and a duck! </P> <P>Chico: At's a no good. It's from-a da wrong picture. </P> <P>Groucho: I hope you know, sir, this means war! You leave me no outlet but to sue for a deadline extension, sue for the butterfly ballot, and sue for voter discrimination. And <em>that's</em> a three-pronged outlet! Stick your tongue on that, and you'll get an electoral discharge. The columnists said there was a negative current in our campaign, and how right they were. I demand...[dramatic pause] a hand recount! </P> <P>Chico: Why, you missing one? Have you checked-a your pockets? That's-a where mine always are. </P> <P>Groucho: Well, you can keep your hands <em>out</em> of my pockets from now on. Look, I want to have the votes recounted by hand, because there were so many hanging chads. You know what a hanging chad is? </P> <P>Chico: Sho'! My uncle--"Hanging" Chad Bush--he was a judge back in Texas. </P> <P>Groucho: He was? </P> <P>Chico: Yeah, he was a famous one. He taught me everything about justice. Of course, my Aunt Trudy always said he got the nickname because he had such a-- </P> <P>Groucho:As fascinated as I am by your family history, it's your own electile dysfunction we're trying to talk about here. A manual recount is the only way we're gonna find out who the winner is here. I'm gonna sue for the right to have one. </P> <P>Chico: At's a-no fair! Machines a-got rights too, you know. You wanna put 'em all out of work? I'm a-gonna sue to stop you from suing! </P> <P>Groucho: Oh, so that's how it's gonna be, eh? Well, then I'll sue to block the injunction to ban the suit to have a hand recount! </P> <P>Chico: Oh, a tough-a-guy, eh? Well, I'm a-gonna sue to t'row out da suit to block da suit to prevent da suit to invalidate the suit to prevent da recount. Whaddaya t'ink of that, anh? </P> <P>Groucho: Sounds fair. </P> <P>Chico: It does?! [to himself] t'row out...to block...to prevent... [Aloud, again] Oh, you tink-a-you so smart, but you're just a big...big...big...[with fury]partisan! </P> <P>Groucho: Well, you don't have to get snippy.</P>
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You, Mr. L----, are the offspring of an unnatural union between a syphilitic jackal and Nancy Reagan. The overwhelming pungency of your personal aroma can be considered, in a sense, a boon, as it encourages people to remain at a distance that reduces the chance of epileptic fits and hysterical weeping when confronted with the appalling spectacle that is your face. Your sexual taste for waterfowl and household appliances is, I suppose, your own business, but your ability to be consistently rejected by members of both groups is worthy of note by conisseurs of the epically pathetic. The manual dexterity that allowed you to find the "forward" button on your copy of Eudora for Windows precious moments beford short- circuiting your keyboard with drool is conspicuously absent when you endeavor to dress yourself; though I must concede that such efforts are immeasureably preferable to the spectacle of your grotesque physique, appalling posture, and unsavory complexion unclothed. You are a philosophical conundrum, Mr. L----. Those thinkers who believed in the blessedness of fools and madmen had obviously never encountered you. On the other hand, it is uncertain whether, upon considering you, one should despair of a species that could produce such a specimen as yourself, or glory in the immense gulf between you and the oft-maligned common man. In conclusion, Mr. L----, please be so kind as to refrain from providing me with any further commercial solicitations, top-ten lists, cookie recipies, virus warnings, or any other globs of recycled electronic phlegm; no matter how urgent, hilarious, lucrative. or tasty they may appear to your malformed little mind. Yours Cordially, Sebbo
Yes, I really did send that to someone on a mailing list once. No reply though, more's the pity.