To whom it may concern,
The Lewis & Clark student body’s reaction to Mo Macsai-Goren’s most recent Backdoor article can be accurately summed up as an instance of shooting the messenger. The article operates under the (unfortunately true) assumption that student athletes and our athletic department as a whole are undervalued by the students of Lewis & Clark, and that there is a division within the student body between athletes and non-athletes. To provide commentary on this phenomenon in a satirical manner, its existence is portrayed as virtually undetectable in the article. To my deep disappointment, most students did not understand this notion and interpreted the article as the conception of aforementioned divide and an attack on student athletes as people. This is absolutely false; in no way is the article’s objective commentary a direct reflection of personal opinion. It is the duty of a satirist to adopt a new perspective in order to expose the follies of society; Mo’s article is no exception. As both a student athlete and a Backdoor contributor, I am concerned by such an inflamed response to what should have been a constructive dialogue on the role of athletics within the LC student body.
Mo Macsai-Goren quotes Blaze Looshin as follows:
“‘I really just can’t believe it,’ Blaze Looshin ’21 said. ‘Do they … do they play other teams? Why have I never been to a game? Do they have games?’”
It is important to note that Blaze Looshin is a fictitious freshman whose nonexistent knowledge of the athletics department serves to demonstrate the shortcomings by non-athletes in showing both acknowledgement and support of athletics.
It is understandable to see how the commentary could be misconstrued as offensive. There is some light jousting with the stereotypes of student athletes, but this jousting is the nature of satire, and most of said stereotypes were not untrue (I’m proud of my white socks, and you should be too). However, the final line addressing athletics’ official statement as “a monosyllabic grunt” is indeed derogatory to athletics as a whole because it draws upon the stereotype that athletes are somehow less intelligent than non-athletes. As a student athlete, I was offended by this statement, and found it to be unproductive in the greater dialogue of exploring the role of athletics at LC. However, such a ridiculous statement is quite obviously in jest and is easily negated by the fact that Lewis & Clark is a Division III school, meaning that academics are emphasized, and athletes don’t receive scholarships to participate; we do so solely for the love of the sport.
It would be constructive to explore why this adverse reaction happened in the first place. It appears that the divide between athletes and non-athletes at LC needs to be addressed. Perhaps non-athletes feel shortchanged because they think athletes receive special privileges; perhaps athletes feel frustrated that their hard work isn’t being viewed as valid. Squabbling over a joke isn’t going to fix this, but mutual understanding, constructive discourse and open-mindedness will.
As much as I want to dismiss this issue as a simple misunderstanding, it feels invalidating and insulting as a satire writer to watch this saga unfurl. I am hurt by the fact that so many students were so willing to denounce the article in its entirety, launching petty ad hominem attacks towards my editor and the PioLog, in junction with the appalling reality that some students didn’t even know it was satire. Satire’s beauty lies in its ability to grapple with ideas that can be difficult to approach, and cast issues in a different light. When this medium is compromised by ignorance and uninformed opposition, our work is essentially meaningless and the enlightenment we strive for will never be realized. I genuinely hope that the outcomes of this issue lead to more students understanding the Backdoor’s role in campus discourse.
Lauren Keegan ’20