Take a closer look at the funny pages
The Medium, the humor and entertainment magazine at the University, has gone through several incarnations in which its content has changed consistently. It began as the campus newspaper of Livingston College in the 1970s and slowly evolved in the 1980s from one page of humorous content to an entire publication that embraced everything funny and odd about our University.
Now, we are a little different. As Tuesday’s letter, titled “Give The Medium silent treatment” implies, The Medium is now a place where free speech reigns supreme. In today’s Medium, you will see pornography, excessive bad language and speech that consistently persecutes specific groups and students of this University — all written by a small collection of Medium staff writers for no other reason than to honor and protect the First Amendment.
Oh, wait. I’m sorry. I was reading an issue from 2004, about eight years ago. Today’s Medium actually focuses a lot less on “what we can get away with” and more on “what Rutgers will find funny.” What the letter’s author seems to forget is that most of the “controversy” that has made The Medium seem like a crass and offensive publication originated from the editors, writers and readers from earlier eras — when the current editorial board was in middle school. While I cannot speak for the earlier members of our staff, I know with extreme certainty that nobody at The Medium has any resentment or hate toward any groups.
This brings us to the true ire of the letter’s author: “The Personals,” where “anonymous messages are printed like classifieds in the newspaper, allowing students to freely criticize University administration, students and national establishments.” Unlike the majority of the magazine, which the staff writes and page editors approve, University students submit all content in “The Personals.” All University students are welcome to submit personals via their University email addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we do not have or deserve the right to defend the individual students who write personals, I can tell you that editors check any published personals to make sure University student wrote them and that they do not contain any identifying information about those discussed in the submissions. Mostly, personals go in unedited because our readers are well aware of our standards and what we will publish.
And, yes, we can and will publish bad language. Most times, however, the “f-word” that is used is not the one that offends members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Sometimes words written by typical University students cross the line into “offensive” territory. But, as former Chief Justice William Rehnquist said on behalf of the unanimous court decision in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell: “at the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty — and thus a good unto itself — but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.” The students who submit personals are speaking their minds, and we have consistently found that the various members of the University community who write personals have never proven themselves to be unworthy of the privilege of seeing their words in print.
Of course, none of the arguments I have offered today, nor any of the author’s arguments are really needed. On the bottom of the second page of every issue of The Medium is a statement stating, “The Medium is a satire publication and should never be taken seriously.” We at The Medium have never taken our work seriously, nor much else for that matter. We hope the students of this University do the same, especially now that we are getting this lovely free publicity.
Jordan Gochman is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in theater and labor studies and employment relations. He is the head writer of The Medium.