Censorship, Delta Kappa Epsilon - Alpha Sigma, Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh University Feminist Society, Edinburgh University Student Newspaper, Feminism, Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Liberty, Rape
Leaked Editorial Minutes Reveal the Student Newspaper’s Shocking Discussions of Censorship, Smears, Defamation and Harassment.
Leaked minutes reveal that the Edinburgh University Student Newspaper conspired to depict the Edinburgh chapter of the American-based Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity as rapists and a danger to the public.
The meeting reportedly took place on University property in the Teviot Debating Hall. The minutes, whose authenticity has been confirmed, detail the exchanges between several editors.
One said, “we’ll publish the transcript of a completely normal boorish conversation between some drunken students; the sort which our readers have and hear every day. But if we give it the melodramatic headline “content warning: rape” and add enough references to “rape threats,” hopefully our readers will be so gormless that they’ll fail to recognise how unremarkable and harmless the conversation is.”
The second editor queried, however, whether printing out Roy Chubby Brown calibre jokes about raping feminists and a female EUSA official having a penis might backfire. Supposing that their readers were nonplussed or even mildly amused by the jokes. The first editor conceded that they needed to reprint these students’ drunken jokes – on the front page and in full! – because simply reporting that some drunken boys were immature wouldn’t in itself carry much force. But, he added, putting the headline “content warning: rape” in black should inform confused readers that they were supposed to take the story Very Seriously Indeed.
A third editor worried whether implying that some loutish students were rapists might be defamatory. “Don’t worry,” he was reassured, “we won’t name the boys. Hopefully national papers such as the Record and the Mirror will take the risk and identify them, even publishing photographs of their faces alongside ominous allusions to “rape threats” and “raping feminists.” In this way the students’ employment prospects will be ruined for years, merely for cracking a few jokes!”
The editors anticipated that once the ball was rolling, the students might face disciplinary or even police action, for their words alone.
Following Tychy’s publication of these minutes, there was outrage across the entire university. The Edinburgh University Feminist Society said on their Facebook page: “We don’t agree with the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity’s abhorrent misogynistic and transphobic words, but we defend to the death their right to say them. EUSA’s Vice President Societies and Activities (VPSA) Eve Livingston paraphrased Karl Marx to insist that freedom of expression was like a rose, and that one had to just put up with the thorns.
Our Editorial Responsibilities.
Writing about such blatant, explicit censorship presents clear problems for Tychy and, after much deliberation, we agreed on the headline in its current form. In this way we give people the choice of whether or not to engage with the contents of the article, without diminishing or diluting the serious subject matter that the article addresses.
Whether those who have experienced censorship in nations such as China and Egypt are helped by trigger and content warnings is much disputed. Avoiding triggering material may do more harm than good in terms of recovery for survivors. But what content warnings provide are choice, autonomy and a nod of respect to people’s boundaries.