Columnist orders bias investigation
Daily Targum columnist Aaron Marcus filed a bias complaint against The Medium, a weekly satirical newspaper that targets the University community, after the paper ran a column under his name last Wednesday.
The piece, titled, ““What About All the Good Things Hitler Did?” was featured in the annual “The Daily Medium” issue, a spoof of The Daily Targum.
Marcus, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the column, which ran with his photo, name and column title, “Marcus My Words,” was meant to promote anti-Semitism on his behalf.
“It’s one thing to write a mock article, and The Medium is known for being offensive and being a satirical newspaper, but it’s another thing to take my name, the picture and title of my column and attribute something so horrific to me,” Marcus said.
The Jewish student, whose pro-Israel messages have created dialogue, debate and controversy in the Targum opinions section, said the special April Fool’s issue — which has a very similar design template to The Daily Targum — fooled a friend, who asked Marcus if he penned the column.
Marcus then filed a bias complaint with the University Thursday morning, which prompted University President Richard L. McCormick to issue a statement about The Medium’s column.
“No individual student should be subject to such a vicious, provocative and hurtful piece, regardless of whether First Amendment protections apply to such expression,” McCormick said in the statement. “The Medium’s article was particularly despicable in light of Mr. Marcus’ Jewish faith.”
Marcus said he has filed the bias complaint because the column pretended to promote anti-Semitism under his name, while upsetting the Jewish community on campus.
“Almost every other Jewish person on campus I’ve spoken to is offended by it,” Marcus said. “Satire is something funny. Bias is when you do something like praising Adolf Hitler and [put] someone else’s words for what you’re actually spewing.”
The University is investigating the bias incident as per the University’ anti-bias policies, McCormick said in the statement.
Marcus said he is reviewing other options, including legal action, but is not completely committed to filing a lawsuit.
Amy DiMaria, The Medium’s editor-in-chief, said the column was meant as satire and should not have been interpreted as anti-Semitic.
The publication chose Marcus because he is largely recognized within the University community because of his column, said DiMaria, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
“We do it every year, impersonate a Targum columnist as part of ‘The Daily Medium,’” she said. “We chose [Marcus] … based on [his] distinctive writing style that would be easy to parody.”
DiMaria said no one has contacted The Medium so far regarding the investigation into Marcus’ complaint. She said The Medium has never dealt with any formal complaints.
“Even given the subject matter, it’s surprising it’s being taken so seriously,” DiMaria said. “Everyone knows who we are, and we print everything as satire. We’re not out to get anyone or be malicious.”
The column was particularly disheartening to Marcus because of his family’s history.
“The Medium has a right to freedom of speech, but they don’t have the right to impersonate me by printing an anti-Semitic diatribe that praises Adolf Hitler,” he said. “I’m a Jew. My grandparents lost many family members in the Holocaust. This is way over the line.”
Marcus said The Medium was able to print such the piece because the University does not adequately protect Jewish students on campus.
“The University has not taken a firm enough position that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated,” he said. “When push comes to shove, the University has not taken the rights of Jewish students seriously.”