The Editor's Soapbox

Two of my favorite people right now are the men who have insulted me the most in the past week.

The first is George Lee Liddle, III, editor in chief of the illustrious Koala. The second is former Guardian editor in chief and current California Review pundit Ben Boychuk.

In an Oct. 18 letter to the editor, Liddle said I have “”puerile opinions.”” In a piece in the California Review, UCSD’s conservative publication, Boychuk all but called me a “”half-wit.”” And while I bristle at the barbs, I’m also grateful for them.

They piss me off. I like being pissed off.

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I also like criticism, and while I prefer that it be slightly more constructive and specific than, say, “”blow me,”” I’ll take what I can get. And I won’t let a few potshots distract me from the legitimate points being made.

So I am now going to climb up on the soapbox and respond to my detractors.

Dear George,

(Can I call you George? I’ll assume I can skip some formalities with someone who likened me to a “”6-year-old”” calling him a “”poopy-head.”” I would never call you a “”poopy-head,”” by the way.)

Thank you for your letter. It made me laugh at a time when I needed to be distracted from falling grades and new wrinkles in my love life.

Don’t think I’m trivializing your letter by complimenting its humor. Your letter was surprisingly well-aimed.

I should clear up a misunderstanding evident in your letter. The Guardian’s editorial criticizing The Koala’s publication of bigoted jokes never advocated censorship or the withdrawal of student funds from your publication.

What it did do was say that you crossed a line from funny to shameful and suggested you consider some restraint in the future. The Guardian is not, as you claimed in your response, trying “”to stop The Koala from continuing to be heard.””

But what’s a little misrepresentation among friends? You hit on something intriguing in your letter.

You wrote to the Guardian, “”When [student] organizations allow The Koala to print material that makes fun of white people, fat people, handicapped people, etc. and only take action when members of a particular ethnic group are made fun of in The Koala, I call that racism.””

I agree that it’s completely ridiculous that everyone is getting their panties in a bunch over The Koala only now, when you guys have been offending the hell out of UCSD for years. If “”cum-guzzling drag queen”” (see the “”Special Sungod Pornstar”” issue of last spring) isn’t hate speech, then what is?

Do I think what you print is offensive? Sure. Am I breaking out my torch to set alight The Koala office and string up your senior staff in the eucalyptus grove? Hell no.

Personally, I think when you come to a university like ours, you accept that your funds are going to be used to foster the free and open expression of people who don’t agree with you and, in fact, make your stomach turn. Obviously some disagree, as we saw last year during Anti-Zionism Week and are seeing again now.

I don’t know what the solution to all this brouhaha is. I didn’t know when I sat on the editorial board that puzzled over what stance to take on the developing Koala controversy.

I do know that I, for one, am occasionally uncomfortable with what I find funny. I’ve been known to laugh hysterically at a clever but unquestionably racist joke, and then go red and squirm. I know I’m supposed to thunder down from the heavens against such “”hate speech.”” But if it’s funny, and I know that I don’t actually think Mexican kids get “”my bike”” for Christmas, is it still wrong?

Are we bigoted because we find bigotry amusing? Or is humor the best way to diffuse such tension and point out how ridiculous it is?

These questions aren’t rhetorical: I want responses from anyone and everyone. I want debate. I want people to get pissed off. When people are pissed off, they act up and things get changed. I like change.

Once again, George, thanks. You’ve got me thinking, which is something I never expected from The Koala.

Sincerely yours.

To Mr. Boychuck:

You graduated seven years ago. Stop reading the Guardian. Stop picking on our writers.

Your demand for a more balanced opinion section at the Guardian is justified. However, if you want an intelligent, conservative voice to be heard on a campus you’re not even affiliated with anymore, give the space you so pointlessly consumed in the California Review to someone with something more to do than hurl hollow insults at liberals.

Or send your College Republican friends to the Guardian office. We’d love to hire them — if they write better than you do, that is.

And if you’d care to stop belittling my intelligence long enough to give me some constructive criticism on my section, e-mail me at [email protected].

Or you could just kiss my ass.

Cordially yours.

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