Satire can be a powerful thing. Pointing out the absurdities allows us to look at a situation from another angle.
But when people are hurt, or when situations where people were hurt are trivialized, then there’s a problem.
A good example of satire is The Onion. The satirical newspaper looks like a serious news source upon first glance – the stories are written in the standard news style, as if someone took a journalism class or two.
Closer inspection reveals the paper is a farce. Past headlines include “NASA Launches David Bowie concept mission,” “Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian,” and “Number of Songs GOP Candidates Can Use Down to Four.”
Boston University’s independent student newspaper, The Daily Free Press, received backlash for its Disney-themed April Fools’ edition released on Monday.
Sexual assault has become a charged topic on campus after the arrests of two hockey players, as well as sexual assault incidents in dorms and a possible episode of sorority hazing in March. Students, alumni, faculty and staff were not amused by the top story on this issue, which made light of sexual assault.
The article referenced ‘‘seven frat dwarves” who were arrested after they allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted a female Boston University student, identified as the ‘‘fairest of them all.’’
The response from B.U. alumni and students has been overwhelming. Though the April Fools’ stories weren’t posted online, news about the issue spread through Facebook and Twitter.
A statement on the paper’s website responded to the uproar, saying the ‘‘aim was to publish satirical material about Boston University as a whole, and [they] did not intend to perpetuate harmful stereotypes or inappropriately make light of serious issues. … We aim to learn from our mistakes and to move forward.’’
The Beacon is definitely not perfect. But I haven’t seen a college newspaper that is perfect, and even some “real” newspapers make me wonder if anyone copy edits the articles. Making mistakes is part of how journalism majors learn the trade. The staff of the Daily Free Press, however, appears to have more to learn about how to properly execute a parody.
I’m happy to say this year’s edition of The Bacon has serious thought put into it. Hopefully, the campus community enjoys our take on the small absurdities we see.