Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blessed Are the Easily Offended

Yesterday, my college paper, the Daily Universe, censored "Dilbert". I remembered the strip from a couple months back, and upon checking the date of the strip noticed that it was a rerun from mid-January. I'm sure that the strip was censored the day before (the whole series is being cut - they did the same thing today). The offending strip that the paper did not run:

If you are acquainted with the Easily Offended, you know that they have a problem with ambiguity. I'm not sure if it's a developmental problem or a lack of exposure to varied sources, but they see no difference between a reference to something and making fun of it. Naturally, yesterday's strip involving "Hay-soos", a quirky co-worker whose request for help echoes something Biblical, is a prime target. When most people read this strip, they get the joke: this guy is gonna die, Asok the intern is plainly thinking. The foreshadowing is clear. Asok is terrified at a dangerous situation.

The Easily Offended re-read the strip a couple times before they get it, but even then they haven't "gotten" it. They get as far as the religious reference, narrow their eyes and pick up their pens. Our college paper apparently decided to humor their stupidity rather than to do the right thing and ignore it. Dang it - we do not negotiate with Stu-peds! (I even read an angry letter in The Oregonian claiming that this strip is offensive to Hispanics. Sigh. . .)

Experience has shown that everytime I fire off a self-righteous letter to the editor it gets published. Today was no exception:


If you're going to censor "Dilbert," then at least have the foresight to use a strip that's more than a couple months old - one that most of us won't remember. Censorship works best when the people don't know that it's happening.

An even better idea: stop trying to protect us from innocuous stuff that only a small minority of students will take issue with. I'm all in favor of censoring the strip on account of the quality of its jokes, which haven't been funny for years, but today's strip wasn't anything near offensive enough to justify the swap - apparently switched with another strip you still had lying around.

Elk Ridge

I'm pleased, both at my unusually-punchy writing and the fact that the paper did not feel a need to introduce grammatical errors into my letter (they allowed "Big Brother" to be hyphenated in the last letter), in fact fixing a couple of errors in the original missive. That's why we have editors.

Anyway, in a campus where professors frequently blur out the curse words on important historical slides, I'm not surprised that something like this happened. Not surprised, but still frustrated.

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