Humor Belongs on the Back Page

Written by Hannah Adkinson

The majority of the editorials in last week’s issue of The Megaphone (Issue 10) demonstrated an unfortunate increase in the use of a sarcastic, dismissive writing style that makes light of serious issues and appears to be a poorly placed attempt at humor. As a result, four of the six editorials read like a crowd of back-page hopefuls who, assigned to tackling more serious subject matter, have used inappropriately sarcastic writing styles in an attempt to prove that they do, in fact, belong in the “Humor and Satire” section. I find these sarcasm levels inappropriate for a serious, collegiate publication that, as editors Brennan Peel and Lori Higginbotham recently noted, is a century-long Southwestern tradition that reaches a wider audience in the Georgetown community than just our campus, and helps shape outside opinion of our university.

Notable exceptions are Regan Lemley’s well-reasoned critical examination of the practice of supplying contraception to middle school students and Vickie Valadez’s provocative piece on racism at Southwestern. Valadez is a skilled satirist who produces quality writing, humorous and otherwise, and has a clear idea of the boundary between clever, witty back-page articles and the more serious tone required for a weighty editorial about the sensitive issue of race.

Unfortunately, the four remaining articles in this issue’s editorial section do not live up the impressive standard set by Valadez and Lemley. The editorials by Sam Marsh and Joshua A. Hughes, concerning wealthy Americans and liberal arts education respectively, are so fraught with contradictory statements and apparent attempts at sarcasm that their messages are lost in the chaos; even after a second reading, I was left with no clear sense of what they intended to convey.

Additionally, I felt that the photograph accompanying Caitlyn Buckley’s editorial on the recent abduction attempts—a photograph showing a female SU student “cowering under her desk”—was intended to bring humor to the issue. As a female SU student who has felt vulnerable since the attacks, I do not see the humor in a caricature of female fear and vulnerability. The issue has affected both male and female students on campus, has, as Buckley noted, decreased the overall feeling of safety, and therefore deserves a more serious treatment.

I take particular issue with the editorial “Technology will keep us together”, by Hannah Yterdal. Aside from her consistently unprofessional diction—“mommy hug”, “stupid”, “butts”, —the article is unorganized and shallow in its analysis. She glosses over the arguments she wishes to counter with an immature “blah, blah, blah” rather than taking the time to examine them in greater detail. She alludes to “these anti-development people” without providing a clear idea of to whom she refers, and gives no concrete example of this supposedly rampant ideology anywhere in her piece.

Most disturbing in Yterdal’s editorial is her bizarre side-note stating that, “English is ‘butchered’ the most by communities with little or no access” to technology and resources. She does not explain this disturbing comment any further, and the reader is left to conclude that she is referring to the “Harlem ghetto-speak” she mentioned in the previous paragraph. I found this statement very problematic and inconsistent with her previous assertion that “no matter where our language goes… it will still be beautiful.” It is clear that Yterdal does not consider the speech patterns of the lower classes to be beautiful, but rather “butchered” and worthy only of scorn. Racism—and classism, for that matter—are indeed alive and well at SU.

If The Megaphone is interested in regaining its ever-declining readership and credibility as the official student newspaper, the editors should require that the content of its opinion section be more serious and less sarcastic. If not, readers with a thirst for more thoughtful coverage will continue to turn to alternative publications such as the Kazoo, and The Megaphone will largely a remain a source of derisive laughs and disappointing journalism.

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