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Issue #63

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Features:

Top Ten Hacks of 2004 Election - Matt Taibbi

MEMRI Problems: Was Kerry's Election Bid Lost in Translation?- Chris Riordan

Pick of the Litter: Bottom-Feeding all the Way to the Top

Redwoods Evil, Must Be Destroyed: Bush Wants Some Wood- Kit Smith

Too Cool for School: City Honors Censorship - Al Uthman

Tortures - R - Us - Christopher Lord


Faux-tures:

New Hotel on Baltic Ave: Boon or Burden? - Ian Murphy

10 Tips For Coping with your Dysfunctional Family this Thanksgiving

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Matchbook Romance/Midtown Show - Chris Meister

Goo Goo Dolls DVD - Seamus Gallivan

Elliot Smith CD- Michael Gildea

Odd Couple CD - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills could Make Playoffs--in the NFC - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

Beast Comix - Ian Murphy

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley





Issue #62

Features:

O Buffalo: Why Move When we can Secede? - Al Uthman

Love or Four Hour Erections: The Choice is Clear - Matt Taibbi

The Falsification and Death Administration: FDA Approval may be Hazardous to your Health - Kit Smith

Meaning of Tripe: Countdown to the Beast's Ten Worst Presidential Election Campaign Hacks of 2004- Matt Taibbi

10 Ultra-Cynical Ways to Beat the Republicans

The Big Rig: This Election was Worse than 2000 - William Rivers Pitt

The Smoldering Fuel Rods of Environmental Justice - Chris Meister


Faux-tures:

The BEAST Interview With God

Who Voted Bush? - A BEAST Quiz

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movies:

Kino Korner

Sports:

Wide Right: O Captain my Captain - Ronnie Roscoe









Issue #61

Features:

Voting Guide of FEAR

Top 10 Reasons to be TERRIFIED This Halloween - Al Uthman

Onward Christian Assholes: Some Folks Just Can't Wait for the Apocalypse - Matt Taibbi

A Talk With Sam Hoyt - Eric Gauchat

Give 'em Enough Pink Ribbon to Hang Themselves: Breast Cancer? Chemical Firm Supplies Cause & Cure - Kit Smith


Faux-tures:

Our Election Campaign Sponsors

The BEAST Scary Election Fun Page!

Over 60 Million Killed in Huge Fucking Flu Epidemic - Josh Righter



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




Entertainment:

Movies:

Kino Korner

Music:

Album Reviews: Interpol, Mos Def

Sports:

Wide Right: Going Double-Negative - Ronnie Roscoe







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2004 The Beast

Too Cool for School
City Honors: Preparing Students for a Post-constitutional World

by Al Uthman

In the decomposing cesspool of Buffalo's public schools, City Honors has long been regarded as something of a gem. In fact, it is widely regarded as the best school the city has to offer, with the brightest kids around.

Matt Evola and David Hughes are two of those kids, seniors at City Honors this year. While most high school seniors are content to coast through their final year, these two decided to do something creative. Bored stiff with their school newspaper, they endeavored to make their own. They anonymously wrote, edited, and printed their paper, the Liberator, entirely on their own time and without using any school resources, and it was a hit with their classmates. It was harsh, funny, opinionated, and actually pretty well written. They made fun of fellow students, the "official" school paper, and, of course, the faculty at City Honors.

I have to say, the biggest surprise of this story, for me, is the fact that the Liberator is really a pretty great paper, especially for a couple of 17-year-olds. In my perusal of its three existing issues, I found myself cracking up more than a few times. There's even some decent political ranting. In fact, I'd have to say the tone and content of the Liberator resembles no other paper so much as…this one.

Not too surprisingly, by the third issue, they were in deep shit.

Why? Well, their most obvious mistake was putting themselves on the back cover of issue 3, thus enabling their stereotypically oppressive and hypocritical principal, Dr. Cathy Battaglia, to identify them. As the highest authority figure in their societal microcosm, Bataglia was a natural target of vehement derision in the Liberator. While she insists to the young editors that their criticism of her is not the reason for it, she has suspended both of them for a week, despite what Matt and David say is a total lack of outrage on the part of their fellow students. In fact, a considerable number of students assembled in protest of the suspensions and signed petitions to the effect that they supported the Liberator's right to exist, along with the First Amendment.

So why were they suspended? "They refused to tell us exactly what we were in trouble for, but seditious libel, harassment, and defamation were all charges they used verbally," says Evola.

Seditious libel? Let me tell you something about the antiquated charge of seditious libel. According to Professor David McHam of the Unversity of Houston, "in effect, any comment about the government that could be construed to have the bad tendency of lowering it in the public esteem or of disturbing the peace was seditious libel." Truth was not a defense against the charge. In fact, McHam says, "the theory was that the truth of a libel made it even worse because it was more provocative, thereby increasing the tendency to breach the peace or hold the government up to ridicule. What grew out of this was the saying, 'The greater the truth, the greater the libel.'"

Seditious libel hasn't been a realistic charge since the late 18th century. When it was, it was used to censor the press, to stifle coverage of government wrongdoing. The sheer ugliness of leveling such a charge against these high school kids is outweighed only by the total silliness of it.

That's probably why it didn't pass the vetting process. "On paper we were suspended for harassment and defamation of individuals," Evola told me. "When I asked who, I was told it didn't matter."

What did these kids do to incur such serious charges? They made fun of people. A couple of students, a few members of the faculty. Some of the stuff is a little over the top, but clearly meant in jest.

Dr. Battaglia, however, is pretty damn serious about it. Attempts to contact her were unsuccessful-she didn't return my calls. I did manage to talk to School District Spokesman Andrew Maddigan, though. Maddigan indicated that the Superintendent was in full support of Battaglia's decision to punish the kids.

Ironically, the justification he gave me was based on a school commitment to "diversity and tolerance and respect for difference." It would seem, however, that this tolerance and respect for difference doesn't extend to Evola and Hughes. Apparently, their tendency to curse and make fun negates the faculty's obligation to respect or tolerate their differences.

Maddigan championed the parents' point of view-that is , the parents of the kids that the Liberator has singled out for ridicule. "If your kid is made fun of, you'd want it to stop."

Then, of course, Maddigan raised the specter of Columbine. Not that the Liberator staff were possible school shooters, but that the students they mocked in their paper might lose it and unleash a hailstorm of hot lead on City Honors. It's a hell of an image, but it's simply unreasonable. You could use a justification like that to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything. For instance, you could stop kids from dating, on the off chance that someone might flip out and kill someone for dumping them, cheating on them, or just not putting out.

Here at the Beast, we know a little something about this attitude. Not a week goes by around here that we don't get an angry letter from someone that includes a variation of the phrase, "I'm all for free speech, but…"

We've said it before, but it bears repetition: there is nothing in the constitution regarding a right to not be offended. Good manners kill comedy; they strangle it dead. Just look at Bob Saget.

Take, for example, the illustration in the third issue of the Liberator of a Puerto Rican teacher running a foot race with a burrito dangling from a stick in front of him. Sure, it's an offensive stereotype-unless you have a sense of humor. In fact, the only thing that makes this picture funny is just how offensive it is. It is absurd; the very thought of taking this seriously makes me laugh. The teacher himself laughed it off, according to Evola and Hughes.

How do you make this joke innocuous? You don't. Removing the offensive component leaves you with no joke at all, just a teacher standing there. That's the thing about comedy; it has no friends. If you're going to be funny, really funny, you have to forget about people's feelings; you have to discard them as you would a toilet paper tube. The Beast has been accused of racism, homophobia, misogyny, you name it, just because we believe in picking on every target available with equal vigor. The irony is that we, like these kids, are really the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.

To me, there was only one issue: "The thing is, none of the stuff in this paper would be illegal or punishable in the real world. So the only thing at issue here is whether, because these kids are minors, or handing this paper out on school grounds, they're subject to a different set of rules than the rest of us."

"Absolutely," Maddigan replied, "because state education law does allow for publications printed off premises to be distributed, but we are allowed to regulate it."

Technically, this is true, in that the school is allowed to set rules about when and how the paper is distributed, but can they simply ban it? Furthermore, can they actually punish the kids who made it, just for making it?

Not according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has picked up the Liberator's cause. They see this as a clear First Amendment issue, and plan to go to the wall for the kids. According to them, the Liberator constitutes protected speech, even if it were a KKK quarterly.

They'll be on hand on Wednesday, when Matt and David will attend a hearing regarding their suspension. The Beast will provide an update on the situation as soon as new facts come to light.

As for the fledgling underground journalists, they're surprisingly undaunted: "We're working on the next one already," Matt says. "And hopefully using the time off to make a website."

That's the spirit, guys. If the college thing doesn't work out, we're always looking for help around here.



 

.. This Issue ...........Home............. Contact........Archives

The Top 10 Hacks of the 2004 Election

Matt Taibbi

10 - GEORGE WILL, NEWSWEEK: Will uses big words and pompous literary references to dress up what are basically the brutish and vulgar thinking patterns of a non-union meat-packing plant owner. He is a pig in a lace hat.


MEMRI Problems

Chris Riordan

Stranded from intellect and worthwhile rhetoric in Utica, NY for the last few months, I have made a habit of visiting political discussion boards online for a dose of informed bantering and arguing. I tend to gravitate towards conservative cyber communities because I generally prefer arguing to agreeing.


Pick of the Litter

Pat Ragpicker

It's 4am on a winter night, and I'm parked on a dead end street near Kaisertown. It’s a secluded corner of the city I found by driving around aimlessly. I'm new to town, and penniless after buying my van with $700 I squirreled away the last time I got a paycheck. That was 7 months ago. Over those months, I managed to live off a few hundred bucks while sleeping in a warehouse closet and helping some friends make a TV show to try selling to a network.


Redwoods Evil, Must be Destroyed

Kit Smith

Nature is a bad and inconvenient thing. It must be stopped. That's why so many of us environmental scientists voted for Bush. He recognizes that endangered species are tasty, that Yellowstone is the most awesome place for snowmobiling in the whole world, and that those horrible California Redwoods are home to Satan himself.


Too Cool for School

Al Uthman

In the decomposing cesspool of Buffalo's public schools, City Honors has long been regarded as something of a gem. In fact, it is widely regarded as the best school the city has to offer, with the brightest kids around.


Tortures-R-Us

Christopher Lord

Iraqis wondering what the next phase of the Republicans' invasion of their country will bring should consider El Aguacate airstrip in Honduras. In 2001, 185 bodies were dug up there: the victims were the 'terrorists' and 'enemies of democracy' of the day.


Buffalo in Briefs

Code Red - Everybody’s freaking out about Giambra’s proposed “red budget,” which would scale spending down to mandated minimums, and basically reduce Buffalo to some anarchic Escape From New York-style war zone within a year or two. People are understandably up in arms about the possible loss of branch libraries, the philharmonic and all arts funding (although we wouldn’t mind saying goodbye to that monumentally depressing animal Abu Ghraib we call a zoo), as well as a staggering reduction in nearly every other service, except high-level patronage jobs, of course.


Kino Korner

Michael Gildea

It’s amazing how pissed some parents will get if they see you drinking Remy Martin in a theater during a kids’ movie. Throw the three PCP-laced joints you smoked in the parking lot while disdainfully watching sports bar patrons with a hooker who promised you an express elevator to hell-of-a-night ahead into the equation, and you’ve got a recipe for ugliness, my friends.


[sic] - Letters

...The latter part of this summer and early fall espessially, I have noticed that your special brand of witty, in-your-face journalism has rubbed off on some other publications (ARE THEY SCARED? or ENVIOUS?) ARTvoice had a couple of weeks ago a cover wich depicted a puppetmaster type "pulling the strings"...Almost thought it was the new BEAST for a moment. ALTpress put out a cover story in their last issue about the finer points of rioting, WHAT!! are they just that desperate that they will use an old idea you guys used months ago? how boringly un-origional. And then finally this newest issue of ARTvoice with giambra depicted in an alice in wonderland spoof cover.....once again, thought it could be the new issue of the BEAST...




O Buffalo

Al Uthman

It's time to face some unpleasant facts, Buffalo. This country may not be the best place for us anymore. On November 2nd, we all bore witness to a terrible turning point in our history; a bad lifestyle choice, if you will. We had the chance to reject the increasing madness of our nation's leadership, their blind march to pointless war and craven desire to take advantage of us in every manner conceivable, and we blew it. America has spoken, and it said "duh."


Love or 4-Hour Erections

Matt Taibbi

...If history is any guide, the DLC will spend the next four years trying to find a pious bomb-thrower to put up as the nominee- unless, of course, the poll numbers in a few years' time show that Barack Obama is good-looking, black and charming enough to get the party over the hump using the same basic playbook that worked so swimmingly this time.


10 Ultra-cynical Ways to Beat the Republicans

Why did the Democrats lose? At least in part, it's because they thought that being right would actually work in their favor. Let's face it, logic doesn't mean squat in politics. People say there's too much cynicism in politics today, but we think there really isn't enough. Cynicism works. The Republican Party has embraced it, and it has worked wonders for them. The Democrats have made some progress in this area, but they are still lagging badly. If there's any hope for the blue states, they must learn the lessons of Machiavelli and Rove. To help them along, the BEAST offers these suggestions.


The Falsification & Death Administration

Kit Smith

The staff at the Food and Drug Administration may not actively hate you and want you to die, but a study of the agency's sordid history suggests that they don't really care if you live either. Lucky for us, drug companies are kind, conscientious, and self-regulating. For example, in late September Merck and Co, makers of Vioxx, agreed to voluntarily recall their famous drug, now that a new study suggests it may put people at increased risk for heart attack. Isn't that nice of them? How thoughtful…. Unless four years doesn't qualify as "new" to you.


The Smoldering Fuel Rods of Environmental Justice

Chris Meister

Mercurial weather put an electricity in the late October air in West Valley last weekend. Or perhaps that electricity came from the blazing fires of dissent? A nuclear waste processing plant, AKA the West Valley Demonstration Project, was the arena for a pre-Halloween protest-fest that drew a whopping…20 people.


The BEAST Interview With God

Feeling dejected and withdrawn over the stupidity of our fellow countrymen in reelecting George W. Bush, our thoughts turned first to suicide, then alcohol. Once we calmed down and sobered up a bit, we had no choice but to go to the source to ask the tough questions about the election, the future of our country and the world.