The Pillory came out again. Lines were crossed, people were offended, and despicable, nasty things were printed as usual. I don’t really find the contents of the Pillory to be amusing, which means, according to the editors of the publication, I have no sense of humor. If having a sense of humor entails sophomorically repeating sexual references, mocking Jesus Christ, and ridiculing girls who have had abortions, then they are correct: I have no sense of humor.
Do you know what that means in the grand scheme of things though? Nothing. Even if everyone on campus was a stoic, humdrum, soulless conservative without a sense of humor (a spitting image of myself) the creators of the Pillory would have every right to continue with their publication. I’m not arguing that the publication of the Pillory should be disallowed, but whether it really deserves school funding.
According to William and Mary Finance Committee guidelines, the funding of a student activity receives is reliant upon “the extent to which the proposed activity is likely to foster growth and excellence among students at the College.” Yet the disclaimer on the front page of the most recent edition of the Pillory clearly states the goal of the magazine: to “torture the guilty and innocent alike.”
Later in the edition, on page six, a writer clarifies that the Pillory “seeks to offend.” As if a clarification was needed. How is a student activity that flagrantly attempts to hurt people, simultaneously categorized as one that fosters growth and excellence?
Excellence is defined as superiority, obtaining merit or surpassing goodness. If innocent people and their beliefs are desecrated for no reason, they are discouraged from striving to improve themselves. The victims are already being looked down upon for doing nothing wrong, so it seems futile for them to bother with self-improvement. When people stop trying to improve themselves, all hope for excellence or fulfilling one’s potential is lost. The Pillory’s malevolent brand of “comedy” breeds a culture of nihilism that runs counter to the very ideal of an institution of learning. Students should be encouraged to cultivate their abilities and gifts, not be torn down and disheartened.
“When asked what he thought about how the world changed in the past 2,000 years, Jesus was quoted as saying, â€˜This planet f*cking sucks. I mean…f*ck.’” Very witty. This excerpt comes from the most recent Pillory and exemplifies the level of cleverness in the magazine. When I pick up the Pillory, I feel like I’m reading something written by an eighth grader who doesn’t get enough love from his parents and feels the need to shock everybody. I’m not alone either. A few people I’ve talked to (who are even liberal, thus implying they have a sense of humor and a soul to boot) agree that it’s not necessarily witty or sophisticated, but just plain mean. This brings up question, how does the Pillory foster growth and maturity among students when it reeks of inappropriate and juvenile rhetoric?
Are the minds of the students who read the Pillory really expanded by being exposed to countless four letter words and distasteful sexual and scatological references? Since I realize that everybody has their own definition of what is mind-expanding and tactful (For example, those at a Phish concert may have a slightly different conception than that of Carl Winslow from “Family Matters”), I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the Pillory and honestly ask yourself if you think it deserves to be subsidized by an institution that supports maturity and intellect. An intelligently written, even scathing, satire is one thing, but the injudicious Pillory is about as far away from satire as the Cincinnati Bengals are from the Super Bowl.
The African Cultural Society, the Black Student Union, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, the Gay Student Union, Habitat for Humanity, Improvisational Theatre (IT), Agape Christian Fellowship, and Students for Alternatives to the Death Penalty are all groups that help to bring to this campus a sense of excellence, tolerance, and growth. The Pillory receives more funding than these groups combined.
Not only does the Pillory fail to meet the criteria the college sets for a funded student activity, but militates against those that do meet the criteria. In the last issue of the Pillory, there were articles that involved the mockery of Christianity, females, sororities and fraternities, and homosexuals. This school subsidizes a publication that actively unravels the hard work done by conscientious students to encourage the enrichment of individuals and the cooperation of the college community.
I understand the purpose of state funding towards student activities is to disseminate different ideas among the student population. The college, however, has set forth certain standards on what sort of ideas should be subsidized and disseminated. (To all of those people accusing me of censorship, I’m not talking Joe Stalin “standards.” I’m talking about a college, in the most democratic country in the world, which wants to see ideas encouraging excellence and growth.) The Pillory does not meet those standards and thus deserves to have funding cut. The first amendment clearly protects the writers for the Pillory in their right to publish what they do, using their own funds. If a college does not have the discretion, however, to stop financially sponsoring an organization that spews forth ideas counter to excellence and growth, then we as a student community are being robbed of the best possible education.
Next time you or your parents mail in a check to William and Mary, remember a part of it is going to an organization that does nothing but demean and blaspheme. I love this school and am proud to be part of such a vibrant college community, but I’d be so much prouder if I could tout that all of its financial resources, scarce they may be, pursue a goal of excellence and growth.