Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I read an article last week the The Daily Princetonian about another Princeton publication, the Nassau Weekly, which published "a list of 'Top 10 Holocaust movies I've never seen but would like to,' which angered some students. It was called "undeniably offensive" by an associate dean, and it probably was, but I was surprised that they were talking about possible disciplinary sanctions. It was apparently meant to be funny, and it apparently failed. I think they should apologize if people were offended, but I'd be kind of disappointed if Princeton decided to actually take disciplinary action. It's interesting -- because if the students who wrote it weren't Jewish, and it wasn't clear they were going for humor rather than hate, I guess my reaction might be different even if the words on the page weren't any different. That feels like a bad thing.

There's a post here, on a blog by another Harvard Law student, that talks about it too, and about how the negative reaction is probably enough punishment -- the authors are appropriately shamed, and the free market has taken care of it. I wouldn't have thought about it in those terms, but I guess it makes sense, and I guess I agree with that. There are some interesting comments on the linked post that go back and forth about free speech a bit. I'd be a little concerned about stuff that crosses the line in student publications being subject to punishment when the intent is clearly to be funny, even if it fails to be funny at all. That said, I may have a vested interest in a policy like that, because even though I feel like I'm fairly careful, I know there's stuff I write that crosses lines, and sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's just not, and sometimes it's a risk. Public shaming seems better than expulsion when the risk fails. In any case, I won't be writing a list of the top ten Holocaust movies I'd like to see, at least not anytime soon.