Letter: Missing theTarget

By The Daily Illini

I’ve seen the letters protesting the “I Hate Pam” decision, and they all make the same basic mistake. Ethically, it”s simply not up to A to decide whether or not B has offended C. It’s up to C. That’s how the world works. Those who were offended have the right to complain, and the paper has the right to make editorial judgments taking those complaints into consideration.

I notice all three of the letters were from male engineering undergrads. If a DI strip were to make offensive generalizations about, say, the apparent lack of basic interpersonal social skills and frightening narrowness displayed by male engineering undergrads, it wouldn’t be right for some humanities major to say, “oh, be quiet, engineers, that’s not offensive, stop whining.” A doesn’t decide whether B has offended C.

“I know a Jew who didn’t think it was offensive” doesn’t mean the same thing as “therefore it wasn’t offensive, and so no one has the right to complain.” Saying “I know Jews who make jokes about Jewish noses, so therefore I can too” is a bit like saying, “I heard one African-American call another one ‘n**’ on the street, so therefore I can too.” Don’t be that clueless; those societal norms are there for historical reasons.

I don’t think Matt Vroom was trying to make an anti-Semitic joke. But irony and racism are hard topics to juggle together, and he’s not the first to unintentionally miss the target – ask Randy Newman about how his musical parody of bigotry, “Short People,” was received. The paper is right to protect against even the appearance of bigotry, but I also hope they’ll let Vroom back in as soon as possible.

David Gehrig

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