Continuing our parsing of the Record article about the QBE (Queer Bash E-mail) controversy, we read, with regards to “action,” presumably disciplinary in nature, that the College might take with respect to Pritchard and Lucien,

What that action might be is unclear, since Lucien could not be reached for comment, and Pritchard declined to comment. “I already offered my point of view,” he said, stating explicitly to the Record that he stood by his original e-mail.

Lucien and, especially, Pritchard have some important decisions. One option would be full scale apology/groveling. They’re sorry. They’ll never do it again. Alcohol might have been involved with the original e-mail, especially with Pritchard. As best I can tell, this is not the route that they are going to take.

Option 2, which might be termed the modified, limited hang-out non-apology. (Older readers will recognize the Watergate terminology.) Lucien might say, “I am sorry that Winstanley took offense at what I wrote. It was not my intention to harass him. It was not my intention that our private communication be broadcast to the larger community. In the future, I will continue to strive to adhere to the Williams standards of conduct.”

This is, obviously, not an apology at all in that Lucien is not expressing regret for the content or style of his e-mails, but only for Winstanley’s reaction to them. Moreover, he is not even admitting that his prior conduct failed to live up to the standards of the Williams community. But, it is still something. I am sure that the College administration would prefer option 1, but I suspect that they might declare victory with option 2, at least in the case of Lucien.

Option 3: Full throated opposition. Imagine that Pritchard said something like:

“I stand by the content of my original e-mail. Having been raised in a Christian home, I believe that there is a heaven and a hell and that certain people, because of the decisions that they make, are headed for the latter. Prior this controversy, I understood, because of my cultural background, the terms “faggot” and “queer” to be largely synonymous, both in terms of meaning and acceptability. It is since come to my attention that, for some people, the latter is much preferred to the former. If the Dean of the College provides me with a list of terms that are inappropriate for use on campus, either via e-mail or speech, I would be happy to adhere to it. It was not and is not my intent to harass any individual.”

“Williams make a strong claim to encouraging a diversity of viewpoints on its campus. This is an easy claim to make when all the viewpoints agree with your own. It is a much tougher to fulfill when the viewpoints expressed are ones that you find abhorrent. How Williams proceeds with a disciplinary action against me will tell us all a great deal about seriousness with which Williams undertakes its educational mission.”

Of course, I find option 3 to be highly unlikely, and not just because neither Pritchard nor Lucien appear to be that eloquent!


Print  •  Email