Jack O'Lantern Offers Public Apology to Dartmouth Community
To the Editor:
Over the past few weeks, several issues regarding pieces printed in the Jack-O-Lantern humor magazine have risen to prominence on campus. As the editorial board of the magazine, we feel it is important and necessary to address certain things in a public forum.
We have done a great disservice to the Dartmouth community. Through several egregious editorial decisions, we have clearly displayed an atrocious insensitivity towards many denominations of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. Such actions are unacceptable, and although it is impossible to make amends which will undo the pain and hurt which we have caused, it is nevertheless necessary to speak to the issue as it stands right now.
As a magazine, we have been striving to publish diverse and intelligent forms of humor. Although the Jack-O-Lantern has a proud tradition of such, it has fallen off course of late. With recent issues, we have tried to move away from the lewd bathroom humor that had become the magazine's mainstay, and expand into publishing pieces which tackle greater issues, such as stereotypes and hate speech.
Regrettably, we failed to do so in a careful and responsible manner. Discussing race relations and bigotry is never easy. It is a tender area for some people, and addressing it in a flippant and callous manner cannot lead to any sort of intellectual discourse, but merely to grief, anguish, and emotional suffering.
We recognize that the intentions do not always match the effect of our words. The point of one article in question, the "Dartmouth Review Dictionary," was to display the absurdity of the Review's subtle racism. We hoped to accomplish this by showing that taking words with specific, non-racially-oriented definitions, and twisting them to fit a racist ideology is in fact as reprehensible as twisting news events to represent a similar ideology. We feel that at the very least, the Review tends to print certain events or quotes out of context, in order to portray either minorities, homosexuals, or women's rights groups in a negative light. With our definitions, we tried to show that, whether or not the surface context of a statement could be shown to be sexist/racist/homophobic, the underlying message of hatred was the same. In doing this, however, we never considered that the harsh terms we used to lampoon the Review would be hurtful to people, despite the context in which we used them.
As individuals, we deeply regret the pain that we have caused many members of our community. As a magazine, we accept the responsibility for the effects the articles we publish have on our readers.
Entering the Dartmouth community does not mean that you leave your past behind. Each one of us has a lifetime of experiences which contribute to our personal identity, and who we are goes beyond the niches we fill during our time in Hanover. It is foolish to suppose that entrance to this community indicates an abandonment of our pasts. Further, every person, as an individual, bears with them a tremendous amount of emotional baggage drawn from their life experiences. As members of a community, we failed to keep this in mind, and as a result, unintentionally hurt people in a very personal way.
It is one thing to write a satire on sensitive issues and present it to friends, with an accompanying explanation stating the intentions and pointing our the subtle nuances used to effect a point. It is another thing entirely to blankly present such an article without any explicit context, and further to distribute a magazine containing such an article to a community consisting not just of individuals who are aware that such pursuits are consistent with the aims of the publication, but also to freshmen and prospective students who have no background knowledge with which to frame the information contained within.
As for the article entitled "Eskimo Pick-up Lines," we can say nothing in our defense but that we were ignorant. As before, we had absolutely no intent to insult any particular culture; we were simply thoughtless and careless. We were wrong.
We made mistakes. Though we stand by our intentions to initiate discussion on the evils of bigotry, we were mistaken in our judgment to print the offensive material which we ran. We take responsibility for the fact that our actions have repercussions which go well beyond any intended effect. We apologize to all the individuals who were hurt by our carelessness, and to the community which was weakened by our insensitivity.
When humor makes people cry, rather than laugh, something has gone horribly wrong. Although we are certain that we will make mistakes in the future, we are committed to ensuring that those mistakes do not come at the expense of others, that this insensitivity on our part can be used as a learning experience for all, and that someday the Jack-O-Lantern can regain the trust and respect of the Dartmouth community. Thank you for reading.