When a bunch of white dudes get caught being racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic (or in this case, all of the above) and the public responds with justified outrage, you can usually count on one of two responses: You are stifling my free speech or It was just a joke! The brothers at Theta Tau, the engineering fraternity at Syracuse University, chose the latter route.
On Friday, the fraternity released a statement insisting that while they weren’t trying “to make excuses for the content of the video,” they wanted to explain that it was part of a skit that was supposed to be a “satirical” roast of one of the brothers, who is a conservative Republican (emphasis added):
Each semester our new members are given the opportunity to write and act out a skit, in order to roast the active brothers. This event was never intended to be centered around racism or hate. This year, one of these brothers is a conservative Republican, and the new members roasted him by playing the part of a racist conservative character. It was a satirical sketch of an uneducated, racist, homophobic, misogynist, sexist, ableist, and intolerant person. The young man playing the part of this character nor the young man being roasted do not hold any of the horrible views espoused as a part of that sketch. We would like to believe that the new members seen in the video laughing at the horrible things being said were not laughing in concurrence with these beliefs, but in fact the opposite—that racism, sexism and homophobia are so wrong that they are laughable. None of the satire was said or done in malice.
Earlier this week, Theta Tau became the fourth fraternity to be suspended at Syracuse this year after videos from their private Facebook page, which showed the brothers using racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic slurs, surfaced online. The Daily Orange, the university’s student newspaper, published the videos in which one brother is seen taking an “oath” stating:
“I solemnly swear to always have hatred in my heart for niggers, spics and most importantly the fuckin’ kikes.”
Except for the dubious claim in the frat’s response that the conservative member supposedly being parodied is not racist, their explanation may be well and true. (Although there’s a good chance that young college men who identify as Republicans in the age in which Donald Trump is the party’s standard bearer are probably racist.) Either way, the fact that the “satire” defense is being trotted out yet again is tedious. It’s 2018 and we’ve put the “Is ironic racism still actual racist?” question to bed a million years ago. The answer: IT IS!!!