Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor, 

Verbal abuse directed at the editors of The Lawrentian is nothing new. I can attest this has been a participatory campus sport for decades. 

The “All the F*ckery” rant of Nov. 13however, is a truly historic achievement when it comes to empty jargon, veiled threats, insistence on abject apologies for vague offenses, and near-total lack of stated evidence, in addition to the (not even creative) profanity sprinkled throughout, lending the impression that the authors had just discovered the glories of trying to sway an audience by yelling them into submission. One is reminded – in style, if not in substance – of a Trump rally. 

The demands reminiscent of a hostage letter also set a new standard. Here’s a translation for those who were too exhausted to make it all the way through. “You will hereby surrender all editorial independence and turn over the authorship of the newspaper to the student groups it covers. You will put everything they say on the front page, or be found guilty of unspecified ‘heinous practices’ and be branded a racist for life.” 

Obnoxious presentation aside, the authors are correct on the essential point: The Lawrentian can do a better job in recruiting and promoting marginalized voices, as well as take a more skeptical view of Sampson House discourse. This has been a necessity since those Paleolithic times when I lived on 1st floor Sage. We must make progress on this front by listening and opening our attitudes. But this editorial needs to be seen for what it is: bullying that shuts down meaningful dialogue.

Trying to say anything except pre-approved group orthodoxy at Lawrence now sounds as appealing as a mouthful of broken glass. I’m sure writing this weird editorial was exhilarating for the authors at the time, but it helps exterminate the possibility of thoughtful conversations at Lawrence, especially those of the spontaneous kind. Real learning never takes place when everyone is constantly on guard.  

The first response of the authors, in addition to more flung profanity and faux accusations, will doubtlessly be “OK, boomer.” And yeah, I get it – ageism is one of the acceptable prejudices. But please know my preferred term is “Gen Xer.” Thanks, guys! 

Tom Zoellner, ‘91 

Former Lawrentian editor 

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