The Zamboni: comic relief, not social commentary

We at The Zamboni like to push buttons.

Being part of a humor magazine, one has to expect a little contention now and then. Humor writers point out the disparaging qualities of society and become the targets of everyone and anyone who has the ability to find a cause, call it their own, and take offense in its name. We are not designed to make profound social commentary, but we do run the risk of running “politically incorrect” material. Our jokes are often crude and not meant to be taken seriously. To say that the Zamboni condones rape, however, is in total disregard of the truth.

A recent Viewpoint in the Daily accused the Zamboni of exactly that: It implied that we condone sexual assault. Referencing an article from the first issue of the magazine published this semester entitled “How to Get Kicked Out of a Club,” Samelson said a line about how to get kicked out of SSARA (the campus Student Sexual Assault Response Assistance team) was indicative of an entire publication and staff that condones rape.

The article in question was written with the exact intention of describing the inappropriate opinion when dealing with sexual assault. The title “How to Get Kicked Out of a Club” implies the phrases used in the article are exactly those one should not say. By putting a comment in the Zamboni about rape, we effectively made a comment against it.

It is often considered humorous to exploit the precise opposite tone of one’s actual belief, because that is exactly what we all find to be funny. The rest of the article takes jabs at other student groups, providing a whole laundry list of ways not to act. We even insult our own publication in the process.

When we make jokes in the Zamboni, we take the approach of treating everyone equally in the process by poking fun at a diverse set of groups. Had we elected to go after one group of people consistently, the complaint might have been reasonable.

It is important to understand that a joke does not imply approval or support for rape, as Samelson believes. Was the Zamboni to limit its subject matter to only politically correct and safe topics, we would have a rather bare publication. If every joke ever made was taken literally, condoning the behavior it suggested, well… let’s just say Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and many more of our favorite comedians would be behind bars right now.

Furthermore, the editorial staff of the Zamboni – shockingly – consists of many women. We are a group of women sensitive to the issue of sexual assault. To say directly that the Zamboni writers condone rape is absolutely ludicrous. The women who constitute Tufts University, Zamboni women included, do not condone rape. All of our editorial staff firmly stands in line with the belief that nothing rationalizes rape; for someone to think otherwise is completely unjustified.

The women of the Zamboni are a group of intelligent and independent students who, through their involvement in the publication, constantly display their excellence in a field traditionally dominated by men: comedy. Our new female Editor-in-Chief is the first in the entire history of the Zamboni, speaking volumes for her efforts and commitment in an arena foreign to the presence of two X chromosomes.

Humor is also a completely subjective entity. While some do not find the Zamboni to be humorous, it does not mean everyone else shares in this opinion. We consider ourselves fortunate to have the free reign to tackle topics of all kinds in a humorous and hopefully sometimes intelligent manner. There is great value in a school that supports creative expression in all forms, and it would be wrong to request the TCU Senate monitor the Zamboni by toying with our budget. While Samelson said it was not her intention to promote censorship, altering the budget of The Zamboni is censorship because it removes our ability to publish a magazine. Our budget is limited and allows for the cost of publication and minimal funding for recruiting new members to be part of the organization.

If you do not like what you see in The Zamboni, we encourage you to toss it in the nearest recycling bin – not the trash. You are by no means required to read an issue. You can even put it back on the pile of magazines in the campus center for another student to enjoy since our budget most certainly does not cover printing enough copies for the entire campus to read.

We ask, however, that if anyone is dissatisfied with our publication, that instead of electing to criticize us, they make a contribution in an effort to make us better. Submissions are always accepted, and we are more apt to produce a magazine that satisfies many members of the community if the actual community is willing to contribute. As a student group on campus, it is most certainly your right to be a part of our organization and involved with the process of producing the only humor magazine available to Tufts students.