In poor taste
I am writing this letter in response to the article “UAF announces plans for new Kameel Toi Henderson Building in honor of 59 percent female demographic” in the April 2, 2013 “Fun Star” edition.
I understand that the intent of the entire Fun Star issue was “poking fun” and “satire.” However, as a professional that has worked in the civil rights fields for more than 20 years and devoted a lifetime to promoting equality, this article crosses the line and the impact is that the article and the graphic is just plain offensive. When I pointed this out, I was reminded that it was all in fun. The response is reminiscent of the cycle of abuse where a violent act is perpetuated and then when the offender is called on the behavior, the response is something like, “I was joking and you just can’t take a joke.”
Interesting enough, just yesterday I attended the 3rd Annual International Cyber-Symposium on Alternative Dispute Resolution where the keynote speaker was Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He spoke of his grandfather’s philosophy on non-violence.
Arun Gandhi said that on a daily basis, individuals commit violence in many different ways that we don’t understand. As a child, he was challenged to examine his daily experiences and list them as physical violence or passive violence. Passive violence are the acts that hurt people without physical force and that occur through acts of discrimination, looking down on others, hating and so forth.
Arun Gandhi said passive violence generates anger and then there is a tendency to resort to physical violence to get justice. The fuel (passive violence) for physical violence is supplied by each and every one of us. I would place the offensive Fun Star article and graphic in the category of passive violence.
Arun Gandhi also said that transformation begins with the individual and with examining our daily actions and in taking measures to reduce and eventually eliminate the acts of passive violence. I would like to see what we can do to collaborate in changing the “tradition” of pitting men and women against each other and of allowing passive violence under the guise of “humor” or “satire.”
Director, UAF Diversity and Equal Opportunity