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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Chicken and asparagus

Published: April 28, 2006
Section: Opinions

This is it. My last column for the Hoot. I've been dithering between, on the one hand, writing one more meaningless piece of senseless flack and, on the other, picking a bone with an issue I think is actually worth writing about in a senseful and flackless fashion. I have decided to do both: write about a serious issue sensefully, and put some flack on the side, kind of like overcooked asparagus that's not supposed to be eaten, just looked at and admired for its hideous poultry-decorating abilities. We'll start with the side dish.

The reason I started doing this, week in, week out, is that Ari Teman 05, founder and publisher of the Indi in 2002, stopped publishing the Indi in 2003. I wrote humor columns for the Indi during that year, humor columns that were actually labeled “humor” columns, the result being that nobody ever sent me any hate mail for making fun of snails, dental hygiene, and how it all relates to general chemistry lab.

Indeed, under the label of “humor,” nobody actually believed me when I said something stupid, like, “I don't know what the purpose of a fire extinguisher is.” By the way, thank you to all those wonderful people who flooded my mailbox that week. You know who you are. Without you, I would never have written this paragraph. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

So the Indi shut down when I was a mere freshman. A writer gets frustrated when he has no outlet. Especially a writer of senseless flack. It's like everything turns into a slurry and you're so saturated with meaningless ideas that you can't write down and you suffer a humorous breakdown. The next year and a half was a blur. I remember getting rejected and moving to New York for 5 months, and that's about it. But then Igor Pedan, co-founder of the Hoot, who I have never actually met personally, sent out an email about this new newspaper. I asked him if he needed a humor columnist.

He said sure. So I sent in my first article, “Student Government Body Goes to the Weight Room,” a piece actually left over from my Indi days that never got published. In it, I expounded on the importance of Student Government, in particular the coveted position of Secretary of Hamster Affairs.

And here we are, 18 months later. We've discussed so many meaningless things, such as academic nudists, spiked turkeys, diabetic baboons, dental hygiene for snails, nuclear potatoes. The list goes on. And then it stops. What was the point of all this? Let me tell you.

I have only one goal in life. It is my dream of dreams. I want to make exorbitant sums of money because I want my future dog to have an endless supply of those artificial chewing bones made of $100 bill paper mach. So I figured, if I could just manage to put together a large enough portfolio, I may be able to either get a job at a paper or put everything together into a book about college life which I would title Diabetic Baboons, Relationships, and other Hazards of College Life, but end up titling Life of a College Humorist instead in order not to freak out prospective publishing companies by betraying any potentially concealable mental imbalances. My previous escapade, a book I wrote called Free Will and the Men's Bathroom, never worked out, but maybe this would.

I know what you're thinking, but hey, dogs are people, too. Speaking of dogs and artificial chewing bones made of $100 bills, I will now leave the senseless flack aside and pick that bone. WARNING: THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS EMPLOY EXTREME HYPERBOLE IN ORDER TO MAKE A POINT. DO NOT TAKE ME LITERALLY.

In the March 24th edition of the Hoot, a racist poem entitled “I Hate You Thugs” was published in which a certain culture was degraded, mocked, and otherwise spit on pitilessly with that greenish kind of phlegm you get when you have contracted some sort of deadly Africanized killer monkey disease. In a letter to the editor in last week's issue, a commentator writes that the poem advocated “racial superiority.”

The Posse, a respected minority group on campus, has created a kind of forum in which all feelings of frustration and doom can be scrawled on large sheets of paper in the Shapiro Campus Center, in order that all attacked in the poem can wallow in their own crapulence and complain about how racist this campus is, as evidenced by this white supremacist composition that was clearly and indisputably inspired by David Duke.


Look guys, and especially those responsible for those sheets of paper in Shapiro Campus Center, the title of the poem was “I Hate You Thugs.” It seems, from the title, that the author hates thugs. He doesn't like how they act, or dress, or blast base in Cadillacs, or ride small midget-sized bicycles. Quite frankly, neither do I. I don't like hip hop either. In fact, whenever I go to the gym and hear all kinds of disgusting sexually explicit music from Jammin 94.5, I turn off my brain. Because the music is “black?” No, because it's sexually explicit. And damnit I should be able to write a poem about this without being accused of advocating racial superiority theory.

True, insofar as the forum is an open dialogue, it is respectable, and I commend Posse for allowing differing opinions in the forum. But when push comes to shove, the whole idea brings attention to your obsession with capitalizing on imaginary hate. By acting how they have, Posse has furthered the stereotype it is trying to squelch. I am a case in point. When I read the poem, I was thinking about “thugs” I knew. I was thinking of kids in my high school that acted this way. I went to a religious Jewish Day School. Everyone was white and Jewish. Yes, there are Jewish thugs, too, and I don't like how my people can sometimes act thuggishly. But if Posse, in the name of the African American community, wants to suddenly take upon themselves the exclusive right to thuggery, then they are the ones bringing race into the picture where it doesn't belong. This is the essence of racism. I wouldn't have equated the poem with black culture if not for this forum.

I was here during the infamous Dusty Baker incident in which the N-word was alluded to in the Justice. I remember the embarrassing aftermath. Quite frankly it was scary.

People almost beating down the doors of the Justice office shouting “What do we want? NO JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!” Now the Hoot is under fire. For what?
You know as well as I do that the author of that article three years ago was not a racist. Nobody involved was. Not the author, not the editors, not Stephen Heyman. I dare anyone who reads this article and is offended by it to tell me otherwise. Were they insensitive? Perhaps irresponsible? Yes. But they were not racist. It was an excuse- an excuse to get angry and to feel self-righteous. Yes, the insensitivity deserved a response. But what happened next was completely absurd. It's the same here, except here the supposed racism wasn't even handed to you on a platter with a juicy medium-rare N-word. Here you had to make it up yourselves.

Some of you say you are sick of the hate on this campus. I say you love it, because even when it doesn't exist you give it the life it doesn't deserve. Now a poet is labeled a racist. Labeling somebody a racist is just too good an opportunity to pass up. Now a poet is blackballed for who knows how long. By the way, Nathan, your Magic Master piece was awesome.

Heh, I bet “blackballed” is a racist word, too. I'll be waiting for the forum in Shapiro.