Battling Moralism Through Satire and `Pluck'

AFARM Wages War Against AALARM With Art, Publicity, and (Maybe) Debate

First came AALARM, the Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality, blazing a conservative trail in Harvard's liberal jungle.

Now, for those who have heard enough of conservatives, there's AFARM--The Association for the Absence of Rabid Moralism.

The sometimes covert group recently began a publicity campaign.

Organizers said AFARM was formed last spring in response to AALARM's reaction to the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day (BGLAD), when AALARM put up posters reading, "Don't BGLAD, be AALARMed."

"AFARM itself maybe should be perceived as a silly reaction, but what we do is so serious that it's almost unspeakable," said co-founder Joshua L. Oppenheimer '96.


When asked what position he held in the organization, he said, "I don't remember what I am. I think that is my position."

The top four positions in the organization--archbishop, count, judge and duchess--are taken from the Marquis de Sade's novel 120 Years of Sodom. But AFARM is a collective group, and anyone is welcome to join.

In addition to antagonizing AALARM, AFARM is involved in performance art.

"AFARM is a highly theoretically informed, theatrical, political performance group," said Catherine A. Corman `96, the organization's duchess. Performance is not AFARM's only venue, however. The December issue of HQ featured AFARM's "plagiarized playscript" supporting gay rights.

Lately the group has tried to increase awareness by postering Eliot House with such slogans as "Old MacDonald had AFARM" and "There is no cause for AALARM."

AALARM does not agree. "It seems that AFARM is just another Harvard-sponsored homosexual hack group," said Robert K. Wasinger '94, presidential counsel to AALARM.

He mentioned AALARM's victory three years ago in a debate on homosexuality and art against the Harvard-Radcliffe Art Organization for the Advancement of Sexual Minorities (ARTS ORGASM).

"AALARM could just as easily quash AFARM in a debate. We are completely willing and hopeful that AFARM would be willing to debate us in a public setting," Wasinger said.

David M. Sollors '96, another AFARM co-founder, said "We are probably too silly to do a formal debate, but we'd be perfectly willing to do an AFARM-AALARM Jeopardy game."

Oppenheimer was unsure about the idea. "I don't think we do debates. Well, I don't know. Maybe we do. We'd have to discuss it."

Oppenheimer's views on AALARM were clearer. "We're waging general guerrilla warfare against AALARM in about as happy-go-lucky and satirical and plucky a way as you can when confronting Nazism."

AFARM has not yet been recognized by the College as an official student organization, but its leaders plan to gain the administration's recognition next semester.

The group has received approximately $500 in grants from the Office for the Arts and $300 from the Undergraduate Council.

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