Letters to the Editor 1/28

By Letter to the Editor

Opinions Column

To the Editor,

Oliver Bateman’s Valentine’s Day… Opinions Column

To the Editor,

Oliver Bateman’s Valentine’s Day piece: What began as an allegation of bad taste has become — according to one student’s Facebook wall — a campaign to “twist the knife” to ruin Bateman’s career. This furor is about a column that allegedly encourages sexual assault. How so? Bateman caricatures college dating life: wooing a girl with a pizza, two cases of beer, a goatee and a scalp massage. No sex occurs, no sex is intimated, no sex is advised. “Date rape” is an absurd conclusion.

You see, this is how real damage happens. These are the social and rhetorical strategies that marginalize, that shut people up: equivocation, name-calling, vicious backchannels. When “let’s start a conversation” becomes “let’s distort and destroy,” possible progress ends. Dialogue stops. Witch hunts begin. And no, these people are not radical outliers. Though Campus Women’s Organization has stepped back and is encouraging allies not to personally insult Oliver, its original letter was an ad hominem attack: “We wonder if Bateman has taken the time to get to know any women as individuals.”

What’s worse, these straw-men battles undercut legitimate causes. Advocacy groups stop looking forward and content themselves with ritualistic passion plays. Finding big targets on which to pin “sexist” or “oppressor” is a tired tradition. The most recent CWO publication on the matter is a lengthy, patronizing essay on how “real” progressives admit their wrongs. No one is talking about issues, just the social theater surrounding them. We need true dialogue, debate, education. Not grandstanding and moralizing.

Erik Hinton

School of Arts & Sciences Alumnus

Former Pitt News Managing Editor

To the Editor,

Regarding Oliver Bateman’s column “After MLK Day, now time to seduce ‘sweetie,’” no one is trying to crush the genre of satire beneath  their heel. No one is certainly trying to say a man (presumably) can’t be progressive or feminist. I think the Campus Women’s Organization had it right on the money with its first response: Even anti-oppression folks can hurt the communities they stand in solidarity with. What needs to happen is for those folks to sit down, shut up and listen.

Rape should never be a punchline, period. It should never be a punchline in good satire, and it should never be a punchline in a piece that didn’t fulfill its intended genre.

Bateman owes those communities a genuine apology, and then healing can start.

And if you think feminism is silly or that CWO is too sensitive, look at the locked-up comments on that thread. The commenters called me stupid, called CWO stupid, equated our collective “stupidities” with cultural genocide, stamped their feet and decided that date rape wasn’t rape, that waiting for someone to imbibe before propositioning them wasn’t rape and said that rape culture isn’t a relevant or important issue.

There’s still a lot of work to be done.

Adriana Massi

Swarthmore College

Greek probation

To the Editor,

I find it reprehensible that The Pitt News featured three separate pieces Wednesday (“Greeks question probation,” “Pitt should set clearer penalties,” “Letter to the editor”) discussing the social probation within the Greek community which, as the editorial clearly states, includes only 10 percent of the student population. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the students who are not Greek affiliates simply don’t care to read about the terrible injustices suffered by these students whose elected leaders made a mistake. Whether or not the punishment fits the crime is not something I am qualified to comment on, but neither is it something I want to see plastered on every other page of my student newspaper. I find it ridiculous that The Pitt News even publishes letters to the editor with such ludicrous statements as “Dean Kathy Humphrey…[is] forgetting the good Greeks do for this campus and trying to get rid of us.” It’s a shame so many of the smaller (yet no less philanthropic or high-acheiving) campus organizations struggling to find recognition among the University community — that would be elated by exposure from The Pitt News — don’t ever get the opportunity because of the monopoly held by the all-important Greeks. The fact that Tuesday’s presidential State of the Union address was not once mentioned is further evidence of this newspaper’s increasing irrelevance among a diverse student body thirsting for actual news, both local and national.

Natalie Truty

School of Arts & Sciences