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Georgetown U. humor magazine defends satirical article

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By Daniel de Vise
Friday, December 18, 2009

The editor of a humor publication at Georgetown University said Thursday that its editorial staff had decided not to take down from its Web site a satirical article that school leaders have condemned as racist.

An article in the December issue of the Georgetown Heckler portrays the staff of the Hoya, the student newspaper, donning white hoods and burning a cross in the manner of the Ku Klux Klan. The piece also describes students "hanging dark, human-shaped piƱatas" from trees.

The piece is meant to mock the Hoya for its April Fool's edition last spring. That issue, which included an article encouraging interracial sex, prompted a sit-in at the newspaper's offices.

But the Heckler's treatment did not sit well with some students and faculty members. Todd A. Olson, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement, "We condemn these attempts at humor," and he called the article "deeply hurtful and potentially destructive to the fabric of our campus community."

Jack Stuef, editor of the Heckler, attended a forum Tuesday to answer complaints. But he said the publication's core staff of about six was "all of one mind" that the article should not be taken down.

The intent of the satire was "to mock or criticize, in a darkly ironic way, the latent racist sentiments that were shown by the Hoya in the April issue," he said.

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