Monday, April 4, 2016

Vile, Puerile, Slander of the Worst Sort

No, I'm not writing about this....

Or this....

Or even this....

Actually, I'm writing about the Campus Voice the student newspaper of SUNY Delhi which I once was editor in chief of back in the early 90's. Don't be too impressed by the title, I acquired it by being willing to show up on a regular basis and do a lot of typing. We were a small paper in a small town servicing a two year college where nothing news-worthy ever happened. It was rumored that we would print anything and some of the pieces, especially a two-column story about new change machines in the student dormitories, pretty much proves it.

One story I never wrote about was how every other week or so the Voice would receive a letter with no return address post-marked from Binghamton, NY that always contained photocopies of some of the nastiest most fetid racist, sexist, anti-Semitic propaganda you could possibly imagine.

There were never any instructions included, no little notes in demented scrawl asking to be published. They just kept sending it to us like clockwork and I kept shredding them without question. We had no policies on the matter. The question of publishing any of it was never discussed. I mean we only had three solid staff members. Mike was black, Greg was Jewish, and I'm a red head. I was never bullied in K-12 possibly because nearly every after-school special produced during the 1980's had someone like me playing the role of the guy who laughs maniacally after stuffing the hero in his locker, and the one thing you don't do is pick on the guy who has been typecast by Hollywood to be the high school locker stuffer. Yes, I do know a thing or two about negative stereotypes.

Okay. Once a guy tried to bully me in the 7th grade. Don't worry, he survived.

Shredd. Shredd. Shredd.

Still, I often wondered what our miserable mystery man was thinking by sending us this crap. Was it a group of people? The Klan? Neo-Nazies? Was it some Charles Manson wanna-be hoping to change the world by inciting a race riot? Was it someone who had once been beaten up by black people and was now doing this as a form of revenge? Could it have been sent by someone who was actually Black or Jewish and wanted to remind us that racism was alive and well in America's heartland? Could it have even been secretly sent by our paid supervisor who was often just as dismayed by Delhi's lack of news as anyone else?

I don't know and never will.

Shredd. Shredd. Shredd.

What I do often wonder about is whether I made the right decision by choosing not to write about it. Sure it would have been sensational. It could have sparked fires of interest and conversation all across campus - far more than any squibb about new change machines installed in the dorms - but would it have actually done the world any good? Would it have helped end racism forever or just given people more reason to distrust those who do not look like oneself?

Bad things happen. Make no doubt about it and I feel for anyone victimized by them, but we have been reporting on bad things since the dawn of time and those bad things just seem to keep on happening. At this point I feel obliged to say something uplifting about all the good that can come from bringing light to corruption, but in our apocalypse-obsessed world run by car-wreck fascination I'm no longer sure I can do that.

Maybe that is why I never went into journalism after college.


  1. I agree. Writing about this stuff, even getting angry about it, really doesn't change that much. Change starts with positive interactions, face to face. Act good, be positive, help others, give an example ... the hard stuff, right? Writing never reaches those in need of an education (or a punch in the face, for that matter), but it's different out there in the wild ... Yeah, sorry about the preaching. I write about funny elf games, not about politics and hope to support a positive culture that way, one roll of the dice at the time. 'Nuff said ...

    1. Ah, don't mention it. I can't stand politics either, or even journalism for that matter. But at the time newspapers just seemed to have such a bright future ahead of them :-)