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Offensive Tone Has No Place on the Page



On November 9, The Crimson ran an opinion piece by Edward F. Mulkerin III under the headline "Nothing to Complain About." The article attacked, with striking vehemence, the now-defunct proposal to grant 29 Garden St. residents priority in the housing lottery. I'm writing not to join the debate over housing, but to criticize the tone of Mulkerin's piece, and to suggest that The Crimson apply a stricter standard in the future to decide what it prints on its opinion page.

The problem is not what Mulkerin said (he had his points) but rather the sneering and insulting tone he chose. He called his opponents "malcontents" and twice termed their proposal "ludicrous." He labeled them a "moronic Garden appeasement movement," a "pity party" and advised us to ignore their "whining." He dragged out his sarcasm, that verbal hidden dagger, in referring to the "cruel fate" and the "alleged suffering" of the Garden Streeters. He even managed a gratuitous insult against blameless Thayer Hall.

This kind of abuse doesn't belong on the opinion page of a newspaper. I'm not suggesting that The Crimson censor ideas--the paper should try to promote a lively and sometimes heated clash of views. But Mulkerin's piece represented less a view than an attitude--an attitude, I gather, of arrogant disdain and self-conscious display, of a writer carried off by what he can get away with in print.

Some issues, it's true, call for passion and vehemence. But preferential housing for Garden St. residents is not among them. If Mulkerin adopted his insulting tone for effect, then it was poor effect indeed. Andy J. Liu '96

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