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“Fourplay” Actually Just Self-Righteous Intellectual Masturbation

When the Emerald premiered its cleverly-titled “Fourplay” section, I distinctly recall catching a telling whiff of the musky aroma of desperation and intellectual stagnancy. The naughty innuendo, the perky layout, the “tailored-to-my lifestyle” features were all a clarion cry for help, asking, no, begging us to not skip straight to the sudoku after laughing off the latest commentary drivel. Well, thanks to Fourplay Columnist Carrie Packwood Freeman’s newly premiered column “The Ethics Behind:…” we are now graced by uninformed yet wholly self-satisfied musings on the ethical failings of others instead of the usual parade of AP news brief regurgitation. Normally this would come as good news to a Commentator Editor with an unquenchable thirst for more Spew content, except that for her first column, Ms. Packwood Freeman has decided to tackle the ethical issues of printing religious cartoons, and in the process utterly conflates Commentator content with that of the Insurgent, which makes for great holier-than-thou lecturing, but ultimately creates media ethics issues of its own.

In the very first paragraph of her column, Ms. Packwood Freeman assigns identical intentions to the Insurgent’s “Aroused Jesus” cartoons and our own publication of the Jyllands-Posten’s Muhammed cartoons, saying that “The intent of both… was to push the envelope and be overtly sacrilegious, demonstrating that religion, which has some harmful social consequences, does not deserve a special status that makes it immune to satire or criticism.” While this was certainly the general intent of the Insurgents project, and possibly that of the Jyllands-Posten’s cartoonists, had Ms. Packwood Freeman taken a moment to read the editorial accompanying our publication of the Muhammed cartoons, she would have realized that our intent was, in fact, unambiguously more than simple provocation. Here’s what she missed:

First, what prompted us to print the cartoons was not the controversy itself, nor any affinity with the unnecessary inflammation of religious unrest, but rather the fact that two student editors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne’s Daily Illini were suspended for printing the cartoons, making the issue one that required soul-searching by any self-respecting college publication. After editorial discussion and reflection, the decision was made to print the cartoons in an act of solidarity with those whose free expression was limited by taking on the issue.

Second, our editorial touches only briefly on the religiously provocative nature of the cartoons, and even then, the issue for us was always a question of free expression rather than making any kind of “statement” on religions place in society. We did admit that “the publication you hold in your hands is designed to provoke– that cat has long been out of the bag and is now feral, roaming the hillsides.” Without getting into the ethical issues of colorful metaphor, we made it clear that the religious critique had been made (and the resulting riots had taken place), and that our intention was to comment on the larger debate which was then raging around the world regarding the balance between state, religion and press.

Third, although our position was clearly a defense of open society and free expression, we were careful to point out the fact that the experiment of creating an open society was “an excruciating, ongoing struggle with itself” which we firmly see ourselves as a part of. Referencing Malcolm X’s vision of Islam as “a brotherhood of humankind in which all are welcome, regardless of race or socio-economic class, humbly experiencing their humanity in one another’s presence,” we go on to say that “(this) Islam is as much a legacy of Muhammed as is the insensate violence that grabs the headlines– and it is up for debate which Islam future historians will remember as the true one.”

Sadly, this endless blog post would not have been at all necessary had Ms. Packwood Freeman taken a moment to actually read our page and a half editorial. Apparently, there was little self-reflection on the part of Ms. Packwood Freeman as to the consequences of writing a column which criticizes the ethical practices of others, as she should surely have realized that everyone loves to see the holier-than-thou fail miserably at meeting the standards they so eagerly apply to others. As Editor-In-Chief of the Commentator for the 2006-07 school year, let me be the first to welcome Ms. Packwood Freeman to the campus debate, and let her know that if she is to be the ethical sage for our public discourse fishbowl, she had best bring her “A” game each and every week… and failing that, to at least read what she happens to be criticizing.

Welcome to the jungle Carrie, I get the feeling it’s gonna be a long year!

  1. Niedermeyer says:

    UPDATE : The Emerald has printed our official response to Packwood Freemans column… Stay tuned for her next column “The ethics behind writing an ethics column.”

  2. Niedermeyer says:

    Seriously Neums, I\’ve been to busy hacking your sidekick to figure out when the next ODE party-party is to put out an issue… so yeah, if you think I have anything better to do than shoot down that pathetically pedantic hack-job of an ethics lecture you are so wrong.

    Oh, and don\’t be so bitter… the ODE website will get a comment someday. Try more podcasts, people don\’t like to read.

  3. Ian says:

    Seriously Ted, there are bigger fish to fry

    Maybe. But when a piece as poorly reasoned and clearly ignorant as Freeman’s is printed in the Emerald and directed towards us, it warrants a response.

    Honestly, if I were you I’d just be embarrassed.

  4. Miles Rost says:

    I should buy a hamburger and leave it on Freeman’s desk. Imagine her horror and the screaming that would come from that office.

  5. Neums says:

    Man you guys have a lot of time on your hands! So that means we expect the first issue right on schedule for sometime in the first three months? I can’t wait!

    Seriously Ted, there are bigger fish to fry – like infiltrating a BBQ and reporting on the quality of my toilet paper. Only the best 3 ply for my guests.

  6. Andy says:

    Wow that’s fucking bullshit – apparently when they join the emerald they are assimilated in to the collective and their individual right to freedom of speech must be forfeit for the “greater good.”

    Sound like what Pira Kelly was rambling about – collectives and you can’t talk to us individually blah blah. That was before I told her she was dumb.

  7. Ian says:

    One more thing:

    It’ll be interesting to see if the ODE’s new Editor-in-Chief actually allows his columnists to defend their insipid garbage on our blog when we attack them. ODE staffers were apparantly forbidden from posting last year (indeed, one staffer was even fired after they criticized a particularly stupid sports column) and it was unfortunate– I’m sure Jessica Derleth could have told us all about her lessons in diversity and Ben Lenet could have told us THE TRUTH about Barbara Boxer.

  8. Ian says:

    Also, at the risk of sounding dickish, did people even read the fucking cover for our Comics Kill! issue? I mean, I know the Photoshop was crappy, but the title and subtitle spoke directly to the idiotic uproar that followed both the Muhammed and Aroused Jesus cartoons.

  9. Ian says:

    As far as I’m concerned, Freeman’s column was a new low for ODE commentary. At least Slater and Shakra’s columns were… imaginative. Either she didn’t read our issue or is illterate and simply dictated her column to someone.

    Perhaps the campus publications should develop their own codes of ethics to help guide them in editorial decisions, considering all the moral claimants involved, so that they can continue to challenge students\’ beliefs without totally alienating or harming them.

    If someone’s religious beliefs were actually harmed by either the comics in the Commentator or Insurgent, then they didn’t truly believe in the first place. In fact, our commentary didn’t criticize or question the central belief structure of Islam in any way. It did criticize people who were misusing a religion in order to further themselves and forment anger… we argue against this sort of thing all the time– just look at anything we’ve ever printed about Bill Donohue or Pat Robertson. So I suppose that if you believe that religion should be used to incite people to violence that we could’ve possibly harmed your beliefs–but it’s not likely.

    I can only assume that she’s speaking to the comics (COMICS!), which were printed in full context. Not understanding the concept of context is going to really hurt her in the long run.

    Try the Spew section here. (The source article, which is absolutely marvellous, is halfway down this page.)

    Oh my. Any thought of being hard-up for ODE Spew material next year just disappeared. Thankfully, a disaster for the ODE means a plentiful harvest for the OC.

  10. Tyler says:

    I haven’t used my gladstone account for the past two terms because I was taking time off from school (one term left and I’m taking two off … I know, it doesn’t make much sense unless you understand my financial predicament).

    Cheers. And a happy return this weekend.

  11. Timothy says:

    Tyler: What the hell is your email address, man? I can’t seem to locate it.

  12. Tyler says:

    Man, I forgot that she wrote that uber shit for the Weekly. And she’s a graduate student in journalism …

  13. Niedermeyer says:

    “So while these alternative campus publications see it as their ethical obligation to publish viewpoints that are in the minority, something necessary for diversity, for the sake of fairness, their publishers should give some care and consideration to student feedback, especially when it is numerous and intense, so that not all decisions about media content are made by publishers alone.”

    From Packwood Freemans column… because the only reason she’s preaching from an ivory tower is the public clamour for more uninformed ethics lectures in the pages of the Daily Emerald.

    Oh shit, I just wasted good Spew on the blog… oh well, my guess is that Slaters heir apparent will keep us stocked up all year long.

  14. Andy says:

    oops nevermind wrong carrie!

  15. Andy says:

    Carrie is a nut case! They hired her?? She was “discussion” leader for womens and gender studies 101 and she has a few good friends within the asuo. Wow, this is great.

  16. Olly says:

    Try the Spew section here. (The source article, which is absolutely marvellous, is halfway down this page.)

  17. Timothy says:

    Wait wait wait… that name rings a bell. Why? It’s disconcerting.

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