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King Day Satire by Rice Students Angers Many

January 15, 2018

A satire in the Rice University student newspaper has angered many, including university leaders. The back page of The Rice Thresher, the paper, typically contains humor of some type. Last week's issue featured fake coupons, including one offering a "Guilt-Free MLK Day Pass." The text of the coupon said, "Hey there, white people! We know. You have a day off to celebrate someone who managed to beat your system. Don't despair -- for the low price of eternal shame you can spend these 24 hours doing something productive like beating off in a sock and wondering whatever happened to your 8th grade girlfriend. You're disgusting."

On Twitter, the university noted its disappointment in the satire, but also said that it respected the free speech rights of its students.

The newspaper published an editorial largely defending the satire and criticizing the university's response.

"The purpose of our content is not to cause any harm or offense to our readers," the editorial said. "This is often a difficult line to tread with satire, which is not meant to be comfortable for everyone. Discussion and reflection, on the contrary, are often spurred by that which may make us uncomfortable. We take our responsibility in production of satire on our last page equally to that of producing news in our first 11. We are disappointed in Rice University’s response stating that this Backpage is contrary to the values of the university and offensive. We do not ask the university to stand with our editorial content on every occasion, but we are disheartened that Rice’s administration finds a part of a Backpage intended to target issues of institutional racism and general apathy to be “contrary to the values of the university.”

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