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I am not a student at Georgetown University, and the only thing I know about the Micah Sachs vs. Kate James flap is what I read in Courtney Rubin’s “Boystown University” (11/14). Based on what was excerpted, the parody probably was distasteful, as some of the best (and worst) parodies often are. But Rubin seemed to mourn the lack of penal consequences (sorry, couldn’t resist) by any authority against the besmirchers of a crusader for women’s rights. Whatever was said, to seek punishment rather than rebuttal clearly changes the issue to censorship.
Back in my college days, I can sadly assure the reader, Georgetown University would not have considered me for admission had I been the only applicant. That is why I cannot imagine that any part of the current student body could possibly have mistaken the exaggerated sexual exploits depicted in a humor sheet as literal.
Without question, words can hurt. Group indictments such as one might find in opinion columns on gender can cause feelings of harassment as surely as any dirty joke. Even the white male the bête blanche of the leftcan feel pain from hostile stereotypes. And if one steps into the limelight like Ms. James, she must be prepared to suffer even personal attack. Unkind parodies are ubiquitous in our age. They are the stock and trade of publications such as Spy and Mad, and TV programs like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
Fight back with words. Insult, satirize, but don’t run to the authorities and seek the punishment of the speaker who gives offense. If not for the respect of free speech as a value in itself, then for the self-interested assurance that feminist opinionwhether worthy protest or heterophobic diatribewill eventually be censored too.
Go back far enough into the days of the pedestal, and find that a lady suffering even a fraction of the public insult leveled at Kate James would surely have been vindicated by a gentleman with a dueling pistol. But with the blessings of equality come the burdens. To postmodernize Harry Truman, if you can’t stand the heat…stay in the kitchen.