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Parody of Poster Poses Harm

By The CRIMSON Staff

A wanted poster issued last week by the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) for the suspected robber of Matthews Hall has been discredited and disgraced by a fabricated redesign. The altered version of the poster includes a caricature of a black male in place of the original police sketch and mocks the criminal's alias as "Afro-American."

Had the now-infamous parody appeared in the Lampoon, we might have laughed. But given that this poster may cause real harm to the community, we must condemn the forgery of this official security measure.

Political satire is rightfully expressed through the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech, of the press and of assembly. This country and this publication are therefore respectful of all political speech, irrelevant of its content, so long as that speech and the means by which it is expressed don't overstep lawful bounds.

However, the parody of official documents in a manner which attempts to imitate their purpose is a dangerous act which does not, and should not, qualify for such constitutional protections. Such forgery undermines the ability of Harvard students to identify real bulletins and damages the credibility of the HUPD. The poster in question is realistic enough that it could provide reasonable confusion as to the identity of a potentially dangerous criminal and therefore impair the HUPD investigation. We urge removal of all fake posters and assert that they have no right to be hanging in public.

Those who contructed the wanted poster parody should recognize that their statement--whatever it was--was made in a harmful manner. They should redirect their efforts though a more positive outlet.

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