Thanks to a posting on Mike Needham’s blog, I have discovered Scattershot, “The Williams College Journal of American Politics and Society.”

Scattershot seeks to present ideas and opinions on these and other topics in an ideologically balanced publication. We expect you will disagree with much of what is written within – indeed, we can find little to agree on amongst ourselves – but that is the goal. This collision of different beliefs can hopefully improve dialogue and raise the level of political consciousness on campus.

The first issue looks to be chock full with good stuff, nicely presented. Although the articles are little too non-Williams-centric for purposes of this blog, the piece by Robert Henn ’04 entitled “Fighting Words: Hate and Speech on Campuses” seems well done and relevant. He begins:

“Why can’t you faggots keep to ur [sic] god damn selves…You’re all goin [sic] to hell.” These words, sent by a first-year student via e-mail to the social director of the Queer Student Union and then forwarded to a large potion of the student body, kicked off the latest iteration in a cycle that seems to occur here at Williams once or twice a year. The cycle usually goes like this: Something happens that a minority group on campus finds particularly offensive, which leads to a strong reaction that pulls the community into the conflict. Next follows a series of belligerent newspaper editorials and a discussion forum in which a plea for better understanding and communication between campus groups gets supplanted by opposing polemical forces, one demanding protection from the injurious scourge of bigotry, and the other defending free speech and lamenting the ever-increasing imperialism of political correctness. Like any good Greek tragedy, these little melodramas always end the same way: The discussions get nowhere, a new generation of ‘leaders’ voices the same concerns that were voiced last year, general frustration abounds and finally the upcoming midterms bury the issue as everyone goes back to the rat race.

Having participated in more than one of those melodramas myself a few years ago, I can report that this cycle has been going on for at least 20 years.

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