Monday, March 7, 2011

Lance spoof edition

I miss writing for the Spoof edition each year back at The Lance. There is usually a hybrid of carefully crafted humour that goes over too many people's heads, distasteful crass insults a bit too direct to be funny, and other stuff that really isn't funny at all.

But once in a while there's an article that's absolutely hilarious. It is my pleasure to present:

Last Call by Paul Breschuk


I miss writing for the Spoof edition each year back at The Lance. There is usually a hybrid of carefully crafted humour that goes over too many people's heads, distasteful crass insults a bit too direct to be funny, and other stuff that really isn't funny at all.

But once in a while there's an article that's absolutely hilarious. It is my pleasure to present:

Last Call by Paul Breschuk

After 83 years of pushing envelopes the University of Windsor's student newspaper The Lance is going out of business. Unlike other publications that have shuttered in recent years due to financial constraints, The Lance is closing because of its content.

All good things must come to an end. But no one ever said The Lance was good – literally. Many even claim that it has become, among other things, a painful symbol of campus journalism’s ineptitude and corruption. It was this growing dissatisfaction which eventually sank the long-standing publication amidst swirling rumours of homophobia, misogyny, and racism.

Tuesday of last week marked the final editorial meeting for the dejected, heavy-hearted Lance staff. The atmosphere in the CAW basement office, typically joyful and raucous, was replaced with anxious looks, long sighs, and many unanswered questions.

“I do not know where to go from here,” said Josh Kolm, sports editor for The Lance. “A lot of us are worried about how this might impact our journalism careers. How will we get hired after this?”

Kolm is not the only writer whose C.V. received a black eye after working for The Lance.

“It has always been my dream to write for Macleans. But after this, the only way they would hire me is if Bill O’Reilly suddenly became their editor-in-chief,” said Michal Tellos, a long-time Lance writer.

Despite their outward benevolence, writers like Kolm and Tellos belong to the old guard, an old boys club of campus journalism dating back to the male-only Assumption College days of Windsor’s university. While this inner fraternity did well to exclude common proletariat outsiders from gaining positions within the publication, it was even better at excluding content written by or about women and visible minorities.

Admittedly, The Lance has always been owned and run by a clan of cigar-puffing, right-leaning, rich, old, white men. Despite the female presence on the editorial board it was revealed their contributions were ignored because that's not who the complainants targeted.

In surveying the article topics, no one can deny The Lance's track record against issues such as organic farming, fair trade, and marijuana legalization. But there was an even darker side. Fermenting between the covers of The Lance was a sinister sociopolitical agenda that was soon to be exposed.

Slowly, readers began to notice the newspaper’s attempts to shape Canada with its virulent hate-speech, calling for an end to multiculturalism, black history month, and voting rights for women and Liberals. This archaic and morally corrupt ideology, which has become a cornerstone of The Lance, was finally revealed to the community by the good work of a Women’s Studies course. For their class assignment, students of fall semester’s 53-410 “Women in Protest” combed over several editions of The Lance, looking specifically for gender and racial coverage biases. What they found was startling.

After writing about their findings in pamphlets and blogs, and ultimately voicing their concerns with their classmates outside the CAW Centre on Dec. 2. The long-held dirty secret of this campus newspaper was finally exposed.

From there, the authorities took notice. Leading the way in a march to bring justice to The Lance were the Canadian Civil Liberties Union, Canadian Human Rights Commission, NAACP, and finally, the RCMP.

“At first we did not pay much attention the claims of the Women in Protest group,” said Ellen Moore of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. “I mean, the whole thing seemed fueled by class marks. Since it was for a ‘Women in Protest’ class, could that have given the students an unfair and slightly dubious incentive to find fault with the newspaper? Would they have received lower marks if they found no fault with The Lance, thus having no reason to protest for their protest-oriented class?”

Cheryl Dubois, spokesperson for the Canadian Civil Liberties Union, was also initially skeptical.

“At first glance, their analysis seemed to lack credibility,” said Dubois. “They were clearly using too small of a sample size, looking for specifically biased results, using spoof issues and old and out-dated copies of the newspaper, not presenting any specific figures or stats, using questionable analytical methods, going into the study with a prejudice against the publication, ignoring the scientific rigors of impartiality, misreading data, making substantial claims based on analytical oversights and outright mistakes, not ever explaining or even divulging any clear criteria for what makes a newspaper racist, not clearly identifying the tipping point for what is and is not an acceptable ratio of female-oriented content compared with ‘straight white guy content’, without warning holding a publication hostage to this invisible and perhaps flawed criteria, relying on a black and white numbers game to identify sexism rather than using a more nuanced and holistic approach which could allow for a diplomatic and sensible discussion, and not to mention being baited the whole time by class marks for a ‘Women in Protest’ course.”

But once Dubois and her associates actually read a copy of The Lance, the allegations quickly gained credibility.

“When we finally read The Lance we were shocked at the amount of vitriolic hatred printed against women and visible minorities,” said Moore. “How could they be printing this stuff for so long and get away with it?”

Soon after the RCMP’s involvement, The Lance was ordered to cease and desist all printing and dissemination of the newspaper after its final March 1 edition.
In case you are wondering, dear reader, the very pages you are currently holding mark the final agonizing breaths of the henceforth defunct and defamed Lance.

Finally, this now infamous behemoth of bigotry and hatred has been forever silenced.
“I’m not sure how it could have gone on for so long,” said UWindsor President, Alan Wildeman. “I guess no one ever really read The Lance. I know I never looked through it.”

A little long, but all worth it. Nice!

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