Thursday, November 08, 2012
Must not makes jokes about bias at Tufts U
On Thursday, October 25, Tufts Stand-Up Comedy Collective hosted a show titled “Autumn Jokes.” We did not attend this event, and we are not writing to discuss the content of the show whatsoever.
Rather, we are writing to address the flyer the group used to advertise its event around campus. “DISSATISFIED WITH THE AMOUNT OF HATE SPEECH HAPPENING AT TUFTS?” the title asked, and after giving the factual information of the show, it ended by urging students to come, “TO SEE BIAS INCIDENTS IN THE MAKING.”
After almost two and a half years at Tufts, we feel that the campus climate in regard to bias incidents, and the system of reporting them, is one dominated by criticism, satirical attention and jokes. This problematic reputation trivializes the process of paying attention to and reporting bias incidents that inflict insult, pain and harm to various groups and individuals in our community.
According to the website of Students Promoting Equality, Awareness, and Compassion (SPEAC), a person should report a bias incident “if they or other members of the community have, in their opinion, been targeted on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. Such incidents may but do not always include the use of slurs, derogatory language or negative images. Incidents may include chalking, graffiti, images, written messages, the defacement or alteration of signs, posters, verbal epithets and violent acts.”
To make light of these situations is to invalidate the hurtful, dangerous, and traumatizing experiences of those whom bias incidents have targeted and continue to target in specific, unique, and truly detrimental ways.
The effect of denigrating bias incidents and their importance at Tufts is the further silencing and stigmatization of those people who are targeted by bias hate incidents and/or who would otherwise report bias incidents. This attitude toward bias incidents increases the campus’ cultural acceptance of hate speech and actions and thereby increases the amount of hateful speech and actions on campus.