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Carnegie Mellon paper runs racist comic on April Fools Day
by dannyp Friday, Apr. 02, 2004 at 8:20 PM
dannyp@indypgh.org

The Natrat, Carnegie Mellon's April Fools' issue, contained racist and other offensive content.

Carnegie Mellon pape...
natrat.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x200

The April 1st edition of the Tartan (entitled The Natrat, Tartan backwards), Carnegie Mellon's student owned and operated newspaper, contained a lot of controversial text and images.

The most controversial and universally offensive item was a comic in which an extremely old and tired anti-black racist joke was repeated. It is interesting to note that many people refer to the offensive event as using the term "nigger" yet the more offensive content, in this author's opinion, is the text that celebrates the killing of African Americans.

The editor in chief of the Tartan, Alex Meseguer, has issued an apology that is visible from The Tartan's mainpage. He claims that he did not see the comic before publication, and having talked to him in person and being a fairly good judge in character, this reporter believes he is telling the truth. When Meseguer was alerted to the issue, he voluntarily ordered the recall of all Natrat copies that were distributed around the campus area.

But alas, an apology and retraction are not enough to heal all wounds. Local brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi, an historically black fraternity, have arranged for a "protest rally" at the fence for Saturday entitled "WE WILL BE HEARD." The event is expected to have extensive media coverage, and Meseguer is expected to be in attendance.

The Tartan receives no funding from the University, but is dependent on Student Government for providing office space as well as, resuming next year, an annual budget. Student Government sources have reported to be weighing a response.

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Alex Should Step Down
by Danya Steele, Oxford University Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 11:15 AM
MissBizzNizz@hotmail.com

A friend of mine now studying at CMU alerted me to this issue, yesterday. I believe Alex is lying, and that not only should he step down from his post, but the entire paper should go through exensive revision and censure.

This is coming from an undergraduate who is active in youth media -- an editor-in-chief, a journalist, an international correspondent -- and again, I strongly doubt Alex is being genuine.

If he is, he has some MAAAAJOR explaining to do.


-Danya

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Correction
by Sean McGarril Saturday, Apr. 03, 2004 at 5:00 PM
smm2@andrew.cmu.edu

One minor correction that majorly impacts the scope of the controversy: because of a $90,000 deficit, the Tartan is in fact seeking funding from the Student Senate. This money would at least partially come from fees paid by every student who attends the university. In addition, the Tartan actually did received funding from the Senate for the April Fool's issue- to the tune of $2,500. These funds ensured that 6000 copies could be printed, thereby allowing nearly every student to own a copy. See the following website for more information: http://www.tcpulse.com/2004/03/19/news/senate318/.

While the incident on its own was deplorable, I am appalled to learn that my own money in any way contributed to it. I urge every CMU student who reads this to campaign against a university funded Tartan. Mistake or not, there is ABSOLUTELY no excuse for the material printed. I will not stand to see my hard earned tuition money (and not everyone at this school is being funded by Mom and Dad) in any way associated with an institution managed by individuals so inept as to allow what happened Thursday.

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Morons
by Adam Sunday, Apr. 04, 2004 at 7:46 AM
tomjoad@guerrillaunderground.com

Who would think this is a good idea to print, or even funny for that matter? Unfortunately, even if the chief editor was not aware and a quick change was made before print, it is still his/her responsibility to make sure things like that can't happen. Perhaps the individuals responsible have never been called a "nigger." I'm not for censorship, but I am for common sense - My common sense tells me to stop reading the Tartan.

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The Natrat
by Hurricane Sunday, Apr. 04, 2004 at 9:51 AM
hurricanec4me@comcast.net

Bob Rost along with the complete Tartan editorial staff needs to be fired and jailed. Evidently, comments and pictures depicting murder, mutilation and racist remarks have been common over the years at Carnegie Mellons Tartan. Therefore, this only spells one thing, the KKK. The KKK and similar groups are running rampant in the Pittsburgh area. These hate groups are infiltrating the grade shools, middle shools, high schools and universities/colleges all over Pittsburgh. I am originally from Pittsburgh and I know how secretly these groups can infiltrate and express their feelings freely once given the chance. Carnegie Mellon students and faculty have every right to press charges against these individuals and make sure that no stone is unturned. No one has the right to draw, write and print articles of this nature. They should keep their racist and hate related remarks to themselves. Eventually, their own hate will eat them alive.

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BS
by Urban Guerrilla Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 8:13 AM

While the cartoon is completely disgraceful and offensive, suggesting CMU is rife with the KKK and its supporters is ridiculous. You may have lived in pgh at one time and experienced racism and I believe you, but aside from the occasional KKK rally that takes place (draws about 30 people max.) there is no active clan presence in pgh. get your facts straight before you slander a major city like that.

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BS
by Urban Guerrilla Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 8:14 AM

While the cartoon is completely disgraceful and offensive, suggesting CMU is rife with the KKK and its supporters is ridiculous. You may have lived in pgh at one time and experienced racism and I believe you, but aside from the occasional KKK rally that takes place (draws about 30 people max.) there is no active clan presence in pgh. get your facts straight before you slander a major city and university like that.

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The "N" Word
by Ruben Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 1:11 PM

The "N" word is not a racist term. The "N" word is a commonly used and accepted term in today's society. You can hear the "N" word spoken several hundred times throughout the day on any urban radio station. You will hear it used as a common greeting and term of endearment. It is difficult for anyone to claim that using the "N" word is racist when the world uses the term so frequently and casually in popular culture, modern music and regular discussion. African American society has promoted the use of this term through popular ethnic music and literature. The term has even evolved to a certain "W" word which refers to white folk trying to be "cool" and part of teh "N"crowd. So the "N" word has lost it's racist connotations of 200 years ago. The "C" word (a derogatory reference to a woman) is more offensive in modern society than the "N" word. Maybe someday the "C" word will go the way of he "N" word if modern music and culture use the "C" word in the manner in which the "B" word has been used in casual pop culture reference to women. It used to be offensive to refer to a woman with the "B" word or even the "H" word, but now these are popular accepted terms that women even use to refer to each other. But I digress. The fact remains that he "N" word can no longer be claimed to be a racist reference when it has achieve such acepted and common usage, especially among the culture that would be expected to find it offensive.

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about rights...
by him Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 2:09 PM

In response to Hurricane's comments, I would first like to say that I do not condone what happened and think it was a terribly stupid thing for the paper to do. I also think racism and hatred are some of the things that are tearing this world apart. But at the same time, I feel people who act quickly, without the facts and on impulse, also inflict as much damage. To say that these people should be "jailed" is over the line. If these people inflicted physical or financial harm, there may be some sort of case for that type of action, but let's not forget that whether or not you take offense to something is your own decision. I can "decide" to take offense to what you said in your post, whatever it may be. Just because I am offended does that make it worthy of incarceration? Or to say that since I am only one person compared to many black people who took offense to the comic (and I am sure that not all black people took offense at that), that their opinions are more important that mine? How many people must someone offend for it to be worthy of them to be in jail? Suffice to say, there are far better ways for this to be resolved then sending people to jail, and to think that this is an offense worthy of jail time is inconcievable. This country was found on providing freedoms to its citizens, first and foremost is freedom of speech and freedom of opinion. To say that "no one has the right to draw, write and print articles of this nature" violates the foundations of belief within this country. (An argument on whether or not we're recieving those freedoms is best left for another time, the point still stands.) I may not agree with the KKK, whose influence in Pittsburgh is most likely exaggerated in Hurricane's post, but they sure as hell have a right to feel the way they do and say what they have to say. It's when they cross the lines of simply speaking that their actions can no longer be tolerated. The point is, watch yourself before you jump to conclusions and to understand that while you may not agree with someone, you MUST respect their right to have that opinion. Also, on another point, the only people that really have the right to make changes on the paper are those who pay for it, the students. They must take into consideration that this paper represents them as a body, for better or worse, and it is up to them to keep their voice in check.

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Aidem Explains
by H. Mart Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 3:57 PM

Unfortunately the cartoon showed up late before it went to press. I wasn't there when the final copy was sent to print. The editorial board discussed this cartoon, but understood, in the spirit of April Fool's Day, that the cartoon dialogue was to read "I was just out driving and I ran over some PGH IMC EDITOR on his bike." The jocular response was supposed to be "Doing your part to protect free speech I see.", drawing humor at the expense of the IMC Editors who somehow feel that their judgment as to what we can see and what me must be protected from is some divine right bestowed upon only them that are smarter than the rest of us.

Unfortunately, the Black Bloc of the Collective stole the layouts while these were on the way to the press and changed the cartoon. Please direct all complaints to the Computer Learning Lab. First Doctor Evil stole my mojo, and now these slaves to singular leftist thought and intellectual oppression stole our paper.

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Natrat's poor taste is protected
by Kristina Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 6:38 PM

I am a CMU student and I feel that that comic was in very poor taste. I feel that someone should have noticed that it was pushing the envelope too far and that people were going to get offended. However, all this talk of the KKK and demands that the students responsible step down is one and only one thing, and that is bullshit. The first amendment protects freedom of speech, regardless of whether that speech is considerate and tasteful or not. This is the paramount issue here. Yes, some kids did something stupid that they shouldn't have done. Why do we need to crucify them? They have the right to say what they want. One instance of a racial slur does not constitute hate speech. The situation is bad and the students involved have been shamed; the Tartan is falling apart. You can go after blood if you want it, but you will accomplish nothing.

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Tartan *is* racist
by Pete W Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 9:23 PM

The issue isn't about the "N" word. Niggers, Wiggers, Chinks, Jews. Whatever. The issue is about the killing of a specific ethnic group. How about if the comic read "I hit a Texan on his pickup" or if it read "I hit a redneck on his sister"? Does that really change the discrimating nature of the comic? The line divides between racist joke and a racist remark is the body which it is told from. Having worked on the Tartan for 3 years, I can tell you there are no Niggers on the Tartan.

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A note on free speech
by Sean McGarril Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 at 11:24 PM
smm2@andrew.cmu.edu

Now that the initial shock of this incident is passed and we've all had time to digest, I think this will ultimately become an issue not of racism, but of free speech. There have been talks of a new Tartan production process with basically a censoring revisory board, tempered by promises of "free speech panels", whatever those are. Essentially, the stupidity of a few individuals may have cost CMU students their first amendment rights.

The author of those cartoons has as much a right to express his opinions in print as I do to think he's an ignorant jackass for them. The whole history of reform in this country, including women's sufferage and the civil rights movement, depends on the freedom of assembly, of speech and of the press. Great men and women have given their lives to protect these rights, and they are all-inclusive whether we like it or not. We cannot condemn someone for their beliefs, however misguided we feel they are, but instead must exercise our own rights to achieve victory over ignorance and intolerance. By allowing printed material to be screened by a review panel, we cede our own rights to ensure an end to controversy. But controversy is what affects change in both government and society. Was it not once controversial for a woman to run for public office? Or for an African-American to vote? Just as gay marriage is generating controversy now?

Now, while our artist friend is indeed allowed his opinion, and to voice it in public, print it and hold rallies supporting it, a problem arises when considering the forum with which he chose to publish it. Though an "independant" media source (and I have already established in a previous post that we students did pay for this issue), the Tartan claims to be the "voice of Carnegie Mellon". For as long as they wish to claim some representation of the student body, there are certain things they can and cannot say simply because they do not represent the students or the school in an appropriate way. This sort of censoring must be done at the managerial level within the paper. The editors must be held responsible for what is printed and must do their job to insure its content is appropriate to speak for CMU. If the Tartan still wants to print material that is racist, they are entitled to, but they must remove all university affiliations and certainly cannot receive funding. In fact, I hope they do just that. I'll never have to buy another roll of toilet paper again.

Finally, I must say that in light of this incident I could easily be embarrassed by my association with this school. On the contrary though I'm more proud than ever to be a student here. The reaction by the campus community, both black and otherwise, has been swift, passionate and overwhelming. I choose to associate myself with the individuals who have stood up and used their rights to fight back and voice their anger. While intolerant attitudes like those expressed Thursday are still very real, and very much a part of this country, I've seen literally hundreds of fellow students in the past days who feel just as passionate as I do that such intolerance can and will be silenced forever. Hopefully, the manner in which this incident will be delt with in the coming weeks will not negatively impact the rights essential to our own campaign for justice.

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Asshole Explains
by F. Reeper Tuesday, Apr. 06, 2004 at 2:48 AM

Unfortunately the cartoon showed up late before it went to press. I wasn't there when the final copy was sent to print. The editorial board discussed this cartoon, but understood, in the spirit of April Fool's Day, that the cartoon dialogue was to read "I was just out driving and I ran over some FREEPER on his bike." The jocular response was supposed to be "Just One?", drawing humor at the expense of the FREEPERS at IMC.

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I shouldn't stay away so long
by The Whate Tuesday, Apr. 06, 2004 at 3:39 PM

Oh this is great !!! More proof that the hallowed halls of academia are populated by (or produce) (non-)functional idiots. The funniest thing about that cartoon is that it was stupid, ignorant and NOT FUNNY AT ALL, but (now here is the REALLY funny part) the dolts over at the NatRat thought that this was funny. Oh man, they are the joke here. So everyone go ahead and have a good laugh (at the NatRat guys), drop your torches, go have a beer and just forget about these imbeciles. No one will ever take such idiots seriously (unless you go around making a big stink about this as if it was meanignful at all). Hey, just because these guys are idiots with a third grade sense of humor does not mean all of pittsburgh is overrun with the KKK (as someone tried to say above). However, as someone else said above, the whole "N" word thing really does not qualify as racist in modern America. Now if that is the discussion that you want to have (whether the "N" word is now acceptable based upon it's widespread popular usage) then that may actually be worthwhile debate.

Until then, no need to make any NatRat step down. They will each have to bare the burden of their respective stupidity and childish sense of humor like a scarlet "I" (for "imbecile") on their varsity sweater.

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I was laughing so hard ...
by The Whale Tuesday, Apr. 06, 2004 at 3:42 PM

at those buttheads at the NatRat that I misspelled my own name. The above post was by me .. The Whale. I have no idea who "The Whate" is. Maybe he works for the NatRat.

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Duh
by George Wallace Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 5:31 AM

I thought y'all pointy-headed Carnegie Mellon types was smarter than this. Even if you're prone to racial prejudice, you can't just put it in the paper for everybody to see.

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Copyright Infringement
by T. Paine Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 6:56 AM

As offensive as the strip is, there is a real violation of Law in it's production. The artwork is taken from a syndicated comic "Pearls Before Swine" by Stephan Pastis.
Ths author has not given his permission to use his work, particularly not for something of this nature.
I know this to be true, because I personally informed him.
Now the editors and the "artist" can explain how they came to steal someone else's legitimate work for their shameful and derogatory exhibition.

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Maybe Not
by T. Payne Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 7:06 AM

The Natrat is a satire print (no matter what you may think of the content). It is likely not a copyright infringement but is a fair use as a satire.

I am more interested in hearing the explanations as to what the hell the "artist" was thinkng. It is kind of humorous though, that everyone keeps calling this cartoonist and "artist". Sorry, but that wasn't art. I have seen better drawing by grade schoolers. I guess they are letting anyone into CMU these days. Say goodbye to my alumni contribution.

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Limitations on Fair Use
by T. Paine Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 7:25 AM

The concept of fair use of copyrighted material applies if the 'original' material is the subject of parody or satire.
This is clearly not the case here, where the material was merely a vehicle for expressing an unrelated idea.
Futhermore, Bob Rost claimed that he "drew' the strip, and he clearly did not, but merely altered the text and signed it with a psuedonym. This is still only a supplementary issue compared to the controversy over the text.

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Unreal...
by VandyStudent Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 9:19 AM

I happen to think that's the funniest cartoon I've ever seen published in a campus paper. Not because of the content, obviously, but because of the context. The fact that anyone ever thought it was a good idea to publish that is, imho, hilarious black humor (no pun intended).

Last year our school's humor paper published an edition inteded to mimic our school's main paper, with the cover story being an obituary for our chancellor but the rest of the articles being obvious fakes (Ultimate Frisbee Team Credits Winning Streak to Decrease in Pot Smoking). Students were crying, the whole campus was confused as all hell, and it wasn't even April 1st. Now THAT'S how you run a good prank.

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The ART ain't the problem!!!
by Ryan N. Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 9:21 AM

This was mentioned before ... but some of you aren't reading carefully.

THE NATRAT DIDN'T DRAW THIS!!!
THEY SWIPED THE ART FROM A RESPECTABLE CARTOON STRIP, CHANGED THE CONTEXT OF THE STRIP BY ERASING "THE ITTY BITTY WORDS" INSIDE THE COMIC BALLOONS AND REPLACING THEM WITH THAT OFFENSIVE "JOKE".

The art was swiped from "Pearls Before Swine," an extremely funny strip by Stephan Pastis that I recommend checking out:

http://www.comics.com/comics/pearls/index.html

Don't use this forum to bash the art of a cartoonist who had nothing to do with the NATRAT other than being unlucky enough to have his artwork stolen by it!

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Parody, April Fool's , difficult reading
by Tom Blancato Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 10:24 AM
tblan@telerama.com 412-606-4734

I guess I'll take the difficult position here. I am reminded of the "thing" that was done in Shadyside, about a year or a little more ago. Someone posted short, "tasteful" (please NOTE THE QUOTATION MARKS, trigger happy "moralists", and you can note these quotation marks as well) messages on the doors of Shadyside establishments reading something like "Please, no more than two people of color in the store at a time". Now, I found this sublime and definitely anti-racist. Yet reactions were so dumb-headed that it made my head spin. Trigger-happy, indeed, people jumped on these gestures as nothing but some kind of anti-black message, when clearly they were messages meant to show up subtle racism. (There are so many triggers, so many guns...) I imagined it was maybe put up by someone of color who felt too "watched" or suspected when entering a Shadyside store. My reaction was "right ON, that's fucking BRILLIANT". In any case, I felt sure that the reaction to the action (I guess it was a kind of action) was quite often quite naive, missing its subtlety, it's really strong, anti-racist jibe against a certain, well, whiteness.

Now, as to the Tartan, if one were running an "April Fool's" edition, what would it mean to fool someone with a cartoon? Well how about a cartoon that shows a message, gesture, comedic faux pas, etc.? What if this is what the writer of the cartoon had in mind? For example, what if the April Fools addition had the headline: "CMU Sets off Small Nuclear Explosives in Contest, Loading Coasting Cars with Nuclear Explosives and Weighing with Depleted Uranium". Clearly, such practices, like racism, would be obscene (just as depleted uranium is when it actually used), and could further appear to make light of government contracts that are often taken very seriously by peace activsts/protestors. Yet were such protestors to take such parody as *actual endorsement of nuclear weaponry, depleted uraniusm , etc.*, this would appear to be something of a mis-reading. Like the Shadyside example. Now, I, for one, find this issue of misreading itself rather important, perhaps in some ways as important as these other difficult issues (racism, depleated uraniam as the example I have conjured). So what would it mean to look at a cartoon and find the most obscene, racist trash? Why, that's terrible! Right?

Now, having said this, I look at the cartoon and can "get" this sense of paroday, of April fooling, though, presumably, one can or must not full around with racism and the "n" word. To some extent I do tend to agree with it; i.e., the joke just doesn't work. Yet neither does the reaction that does not at least minimally forward this simple point: April fool's articles show inappropriate material a mean of deliberate provocation. The reaction that fails to grasp this appears to me to border on the "Smith and Wesson" mentality if it can not at least broach the possibility that this is meant to be an example of what comics are NOT acceptable.

Let me take this a bit further: Murder as a joke? Imagine, if you dare, a headline from an imaginary issue of "The Onion": "Medical Establishment Recommends Eating Ill Family Members". Of couse this would be meant to be a kind of joke. To someone with an ill family member, this could be kind of not so funny to imagine. As a headline, it could border, however, on a kind of Modest Proposal *a la* Swift...

Was this what the writers had in mind? Have they stated this? Or did they use the April fool edition to write the comic they meant in a straight-forward sense. Can this question be asked, in the horizon of reaction against any use of the N-word? Iterestingly enough, how does one actually do an April fool's *comic*? Since comics are *already* variously meant to provoke through a certain difficult counterfactuality, disruption of usual protocols of propriety, etc., how could you do a parody comic strip? What if one did a comic strip that pandered to the worst? That would be terrible! Wait...april fools! That's the point. Was it? Did it really backfire that badly? I am reserving, at least in myself, that it is meaningful and appropriate to at least ask this question. If this seems like the reaching tack of a defense lawyer ("your honor, my clients meant only to parody racism, which is to say, to denigrate it, and the use of the n-word and murder of blacks, through deliberate distortion of the comic medium"), so be it.

As I see how weighted this issue is, and, again, as I see how those in Righteous Judgment stand ready to Have Their Way with Wrongdoers, well I'll say that I am very, very tempted to post this very post, to emphasize this very position. Not because I endorse racism. And if I must make it clear (and something tells me that I fucing *better*), I am not endorsing racism, I do so before a Smith and Wesson with which I have all too much familiarity and feel a certain pride in taking this difficult tack. The tack, like that of the sailboat that moves seemingly backward, going back and forth, yet perhaps moving forward against winds in some backward direction, is perhaps a good symbol for the parody, and for questioning in the face of politics that are, indeed, quite weighted, but perhaps, indeed, quite simplistic, and often in fact moving backward while filled with the apparent air of forward progress...

For my deepest belief is that work on racism is in fact quite poor, racial disparity perdures in terrible ways, and in the end, and the beginning, I believe this has everything to do with whether and how our politics, our political reactions, the reactionism of progressive politics, its terms, level of thought, rules of evidence, etc., are up the task of providing and developing what can really ameliorate.

I sense something is wrong with how this went down. If the writers of the comic meant it in the straightforward sense, in the words of Rosanne Rosannadanna, "never mind". But if, on the other hand, the comic was just *bad* or maybe even interesting parody (i.e., "Gee, what if CMU really DID run comics like this?"), I question this sort of possible lynching. I will state this again for clarity and emphasis: I am pushing this difficult point precisely because I believe that current progressive positions regarding racism are themselves failing terribly, and this may in fact have to do with a certain constitutive situation obtaining in the current and prevailing political, activist registers.

What is happening in the prisons today, for example, cries out precisely for activism and social awareness that gets well beyond the vigilanteism that is on guard against use of the n-word. I know how the comic looks. I most deeply believe that what happens today is in fact too concerned with how things look and is not making progress. I am not one bit assured by the robust reaction at CMU that racism is being Decisively Confronted.

Regards, and of course, Fire Away,

Tom Blancato


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Nigga What?
by Jacque Simpson Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 2:43 PM

It's only a joke. Nigga please. Chill! I'm black, so what? Ain't there racism everyday here up in yer life? There is in mine. Get over it already.

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Proper perspective
by Joe Reader Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 3:04 PM

Yes, the comic was stupid and offensive. The editor should resign. But this is not a corporate newspaper. This is a student newspaper, which gets 100% turnover of staff every 3-4 years. To suggest the paper be forevermore shut down or placed under control of an advisory board is ridiculous. The people who screwed up will be gone in a couple of years. Take your wrath out on them, but leave the student newspaper alone. Smarter people will replace them automatically.

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WTF?
by B. Hubertan Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 3:28 PM

The word NIGGER is used everyday. Get over it, there's this thing called the first amendment, it allows you to say anything you want to, be it in bad taste or good. You can hold hands and sing about world peace, you can also hold a KKK rally and talk about how you all hate niggers, jews, chincs, whatever. Its your right. BTW, anyone thinking i'm some prissy white kid...

I AM BLACK, I COME FROM A BLACK FAMILY, I HAVE ENCOUNTERED RASICM IN MY LIFE. THOSE PEOPLE THAT CHOOSE TO HATE OTHERS BASED ON SKIN COLOR ARE IGNORANT, FEEL BAD FOR THEM INSTEAD OF GOING APE-SHIT OVER SOMETHING THAT GETS JOKED ABOUT EVERY DAMN DAY.

Thanks!

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Yeah, here's the F
by Chiggers Can't Be Boozers Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 4:22 PM

Hey man, the 'N' word isn't even used everyday as part of any racist conspiracies. It is used everday by everyone of us referring to each other. How the hell anyone who wasn't a cotton picker in the 1940's can still be offended by 'N*****' is ridiculous. Turn on the radio. you got blacks and white (wigga's) talking and singin about "their N****'s". (I'll not spell it out for you all just in case someone get's all up about "the word', probably some self-righteous white trying to protect us all because we need their white pity to console their white guilt).

That other dude is right on, we can't have it both ways man. It kind of fits that the word has evolved to acceptance. It kinda sticks it in the face of the crackers who think it is some sort of slight and is some way to keep us down. It is a badge of honor and acceptance man. "That's right, I'm a N**** and you ain't and never fuckin will be. So dream all you want you cracker bastard cause you ain't never swinging the bad black whip like this N-man. that's right, lock up the woman folk, cause they may not come home after they meet the new N**** in town."

yeah, that's right. They wish we were still afraid of words. Besides, racism is everywhere. I'll bet those white rednecks at the paper even face racism. It can't be fun getting called "cracker" and "redneck" and hearing all those jokes about "screwin yer sister" and ... oh, what, those aren't jokes.

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Pretty damn uncreative bunch
by Art? Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 4:34 PM

Pretty damn uncreati...
pearls2008133640324.gif, image/gif, 600x202

Here's the REAL cartoon. We're "Fair and Balanced" here at IMC. You decide.

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Analysis from the artist
by Neil Halelamien Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2004 at 5:36 PM
nsh2@andrew

The artist of the comic has an analysis here:
http://bobrost.com/comics/pearlanalysis/

I also have a scan of the entire comic here:
http://lucca.res.cmu.edu/media/racism-comic.jpg

For whatever it's worth, I thought the comic was funny in an incredibly messed-up and demented way, just as it was intended to be. My sincerest apologies if that makes me a racist.

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Should show all
by Alumnus Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004 at 5:43 AM

You probably should show the whole comic in context. It looks worse without the other panels.

Poor judgment, regardless.

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Are you kidding me?
by Danielle Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004 at 9:38 AM

Arguing that the "N" word is no longer racially offensive due to its use in popular culture is ridiculous. That is like saying being called a "bitch" shouldn't hurt my feelings because it is used on prime time sitcoms, which traditionally have the strictest media content standards. There is a tremendous difference between urban radio stations playing songs with the "N" word (side note: some argue that there is a discernable difference between the African-American community's use of "nigga" versus "nigger") and a university newspaper at an overwhelmingly white school.

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Sticks and Stones...
by JASper Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004 at 10:04 AM
Shenandoah Valley

Jesus Christ, people. Get over it. Nobody gets hurt by hearing the words nigger or bitch or anything else for that matter. If you're so damned sensitive that it's hurts you, turn off your television and radio and don't read ANYTHING.

Assholes.

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Re: Parody, April Fool's , difficult readin
by educated reader Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004 at 10:26 AM

Broadly speaking, there are four different reactions to this comic strip:

1 - Those insightful enough to comprehend its subtle (possibly nebulous) parody based humor probably had a good chuckle.

2 - Those who could not understand the exact nature of the humor (but were intelligent enough to realize that it was an April Fool's comic, and that they simply did not "get it") dismissed the joke as being too cerebral and left it at that.

3 - Those who genuinely took the joke as an effort to promote racist ideas (but realized that it was a student paper and that it would not be productive to call for firings and suspensions of student staff with high turnover) were angry but left it at that.

4 - Those who genuinely took the joke as an effort to promote racist ideas (and are quick to point out the wrong doings of others, despite their seeming lack of intellect to discern which doings are actually wrong) brought out their righteous complaints to newspapers, websites, "the fence," etc. and created a large controversy, which, in the end, only served to highlight their inability to comprehend subtle arguments that they would probably agree with, could they figure them out.

Ask yourself which category you fell into and which you wished you had fallen into.

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re: Parody, April Fool's
by educated reader Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004 at 10:29 AM

Broadly speaking, there are four different reactions to this comic strip:

1 - Those insightful enough to comprehend its subtle (possibly nebulous) parody based humor probably had a good chuckle.

2 - Those who could not understand the exact nature of the humor (but were intelligent enough to realize that it was an April Fool's comic, and that they simply did not "get it") dismissed the joke as being too cerebral and left it at that.

3 - Those who genuinely took the joke as an effort to promote racist ideas (but realized that it was a student paper and that it would not be productive to call for firings and suspensions of student staff with high turnover) were angry but left it at that.

4 - Those who genuinely took the joke as an effort to promote racist ideas (and are quick to point out the wrong doings of others, despite their seeming lack of intellect to discern which doings are actually wrong) brought out their righteous complaints to newspapers, websites, "the fence," etc. and created a large controversy, which, in the end, only served to highlight their inability to comprehend subtle arguments that they would probably agree with, could they figure them out.

Ask yourself which category you fell into and which you wished you had fallen into.

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you missed one
by passerby Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 9:33 AM

educated reader, you left out a category:
5) Those who feel that though the artist/newspaper may not have been intentionally racist, their poor judgement resulted in a severely offensive comment and that sort of poor judgement, or unconscious racism, should not be ignored or even taken lightly.

The artist has stated that he apologizes for any offense, and because I like to believe the best about people, I'm going to assume his intentions were to make a joke and give people a laugh. The convoluted explanation he links to tries to explain his motives - whatever. I think the majority of offended readers don't care about his motives - they care that we're still in a situation where 1) this kind of attempt at humor is seen as legitimate and 2) when there is an outraged response in an effort to correct that perception, we're chided for 'not getting it'. We do. And we wish more people did.

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About the "N" Word
by Jen Washington Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 9:52 AM

About the author who has declared the "N" word to be no longer offensive...

Sir, you are wrong. The "N" word, when used by non-blacks, continues to be extremely offensive as so clearly demonstrated by the uproar over this cartoon. I have no idea of your color or ethnicity, but I can assure you as a black woman that the "N" word is undeniably and uncontrovertibly offensive. Period.

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Then, Jen
by No More "N" Word Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 11:53 AM

Please direct your complaints to every urban radio station, every rap artist, and every WHITE rap poser out there to stop using the "N" word so flagrantly. Just because you may or may not identify yourself with or as "a person of color" does not give you exclusive rights to any word in the vocabulary. It is hypocritical and ignorant to presume that the word has no offense when spoken by one person and not another WITHOUT ANY REGARD FOR CONTEXT.

Language is an ever evolving part of the world culture. Words that were once used commonly, die off. Words that saw limited usage, gain popularity. New words develop. The implication of some words changes. The description of an act of oral sex can, in a few short years, go from being discussed far and wide in every situation in society, to being cause for removing Howard Stern from the airwaves. The terms "bitch" and "whore" (or "Ho") are common and accepted terms in our culture for referring to women. These terms were very offensive at one time, just like the "N" word once was.

Maybe, just maybe, if we stopped referring to ourselves with such offensive and vulgar terms, then the rest of society would likewise learn to respect us too. Our art and cultural dialogue is wrought with images of our own self-DISrespect. If this is what we accept as our high cultural art forms in society, and as our unique cultural language, then how do we expect the world to see us. We, as african Americans, may have relinquished our right to claim outrage at the use of the "N" word be virtue of our own casual embrace of the "N" word.

This is one of the reasons that I do not believe that the writer of the comic strip committed any great offense. The other reason is that I think that everyone is reading the comic entirely out of context. For some context, consider that the comic was part of the April Fools Day issue and was included in and among other comics intended to be offensive only for presenting for ridicule the ignorance of the racist in society (represented by the rat in the strip). It does not appear that the racist dialogue - that which repeated the offensive joke about a disregard for the life of the black man/woman - was presented for purposes of promoting a racist philosophy. It was presented to demonstrate the ignorance of the philosophy. That racist joke takes many forms (such as, "only one", or "It's okay, you missed but I got him with the door", and others we have all probably heard), but when it is told for purposes of getting a laugh at the literal punch-line of the joke, then it could be called racist and offensive. But in this situation it was not presented for those purposes.

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N word, Copyright Problems...
by Tom Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 5:28 PM

Ruben, the N word IS racist especially when ended with "er". There's really

no need to expand on this. If you want to test whether the word is racist,

stand in a room of black people and yell out that you ran over a "N" on his

bike. Make sure to enunciate the "er" at the end. STFU.

T.Paine, the parody exception will most likely leave the author protected:

"In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular [*577]

case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --
"(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a

commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
"(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
"(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the

copyrighted work as a whole; and
"(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the

copyrighted work."
Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569, 576-577 (1994). (Citing 17 U.S.C.

§ 107 (1988 ed. and Supp. IV).)

Without having to write a legal memo for you, I'll quickly sum up the four

points
1) It is true that if the parody "has no critical bearing on the substance or

style of the original composition... the claim to fairness in borrowing from

another's work diminishes accordingly." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 580. However,

in deciding that 2 Live Crew's parody song, the Cambell Court takes into

account that "the words of 2 Live Crew's song copy the original's first line,

but then 'quickly degenerate into a play on words, substituting predictable

lyrics with shocking ones . . . [that] derisively demonstrate how bland and

banal the Orbison song seems to them.'" Id. at 582. (Citing the district

court decision, 754 F. Supp. 1150.) The style in which Rost copies the

original is very similar: it is conversational humor that uses the same

characters, and even uses similar dialogue and situations as the original

work, changing phrases like "You're a Moron" into "You're a fucking idiot"...

just see http://bobrost.com/comics/pearlanalysis/ to see the parallels. (And

I think it's funny that the pig whips out his penis to the surveyor,

especially because in the original, the surveyor is actually asking the pig

whether he's interested in being an organ donor.... HA!) Furthermore, The

cartoon is non-commercial, which gives more leeway towards finding the work

as a fair use parody.

2) The nature of the work, "however, is not much help in this case, or ever

likely to help much in separating the fair use sheep from the infringing

goats in a parody case, since parodies almost invariably copy publicly known,

expressive works." Id. at 586. In other words, this criteria is irrelevant.

3) You stated "Futhermore, Bob Rost claimed that he "drew' the strip, and he

clearly did not, but merely altered the text and signed it with a psuedonym."

When compared to the strip that "Art?" posted on this board, the goat's not

in the first frame, the mouse's head is turned the other way for the last

frame, so there goes that. The copying is not exact; it uses the characters,

some of the situations, and plays on the dialogue, but again, look at http

://bobrost.com/comics/pearlanalysis/ to see exactly how Rost intertwines the

original cartoon into his own.

4) I have no clue how much the original artist is making now, but one thing's

for certain: a lot more people have now heard of "Pearls Before Swine," and

it is doubtful that anyone holds Stephan Pastis or the original comic

responsible for Rost's comic strip. The market value will increase from the

publicity if anything.

There are no copyright problems here.

add your comments


N word, Copyright Problems...
by Tom Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 5:29 PM

Ruben, the N word IS racist especially when ended with "er". There's really no need to expand on this. If you want to test whether the word is racist, stand in a room of black people and yell out that you ran over a "N" on his bike. Make sure to enunciate the "er" at the end. STFU.


T.Paine, the parody exception will most likely leave the author protected:

"In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --
"(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
"(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
"(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
"(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."
Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569, 576-577 (1994). (Citing 17 U.S.C.

§ 107 (1988 ed. and Supp. IV).)

Without having to write a legal memo for you, I'll quickly sum up the four points
1) It is true that if the parody "has no critical bearing on the substance or style of the original composition... the claim to fairness in borrowing from another's work diminishes accordingly." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 580. However, in deciding that 2 Live Crew's parody song, the Cambell Court takes into account that "the words of 2 Live Crew's song copy the original's first line, but then 'quickly degenerate into a play on words, substituting predictable lyrics with shocking ones . . . [that] derisively demonstrate how bland and banal the Orbison song seems to them.'" Id. at 582. (Citing the district court decision, 754 F. Supp. 1150.) The style in which Rost copies the original is very similar: it is conversational humor that uses the same characters, and even uses similar dialogue and situations as the original work, changing phrases like "You're a Moron" into "You're a fucking idiot"... just see http://bobrost.com/comics/pearlanalysis/ to see the parallels. (And I think it's funny that the pig whips out his penis to the surveyor, especially because in the original, the surveyor is actually asking the pig whether he's interested in being an organ donor.... HA!) Furthermore, The cartoon is non-commercial, which gives more leeway towards finding the work as a fair use parody.

2) The nature of the work, "however, is not much help in this case, or ever likely to help much in separating the fair use sheep from the infringing goats in a parody case, since parodies almost invariably copy publicly known, expressive works." Id. at 586. In other words, this criteria is irrelevant.

3) You stated "Futhermore, Bob Rost claimed that he "drew' the strip, and he clearly did not, but merely altered the text and signed it with a psuedonym." When compared to the strip that "Art?" posted on this board, the goat's not in the first frame, the mouse's head is turned the other way for the last frame, so there goes that. The copying is not exact; it uses the characters, some of the situations, and plays on the dialogue, but again, look at http://bobrost.com/comics/pearlanalysis/ to see exactly how Rost intertwines the original cartoon into his own.

4) I have no clue how much the original artist is making now, but one thing's for certain: a lot more people have now heard of "Pearls Before Swine," and it is doubtful that anyone holds Stephan Pastis or the original comic responsible for Rost's comic strip. The market value will increase from the publicity if anything.

There are no copyright problems here.

add your comments


But...
by Tom Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 5:34 PM

I do think that it's pretty messed up for a newspaper to print that cartoon. I mean I thought it was kinda funny not because i'm racist, but because of the balls required to print that. Wow.

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it was funny!
by George K. Saturday, Apr. 10, 2004 at 8:13 AM
vine_swinger_chuckie@yahoo.com

The cartoon was funny BECAUSE people were so offended at something so pointedly non-politically correct that (*gasp*) how could anyone in their (PC) right mind have printed it? My god, should not they have known better? CMU needs a journalistic oversight board now, doesn't it?
I am not sure that the author and the editor grasp the dark satire that this piece represents. It has simultaneously re-opened the ugly past of racial hatred while unmasking the present vile "PC" hate machine, that is vilifying the author, the editor, the school, Pittsburgh, and many other people and instituions not even connected with the incident.
The strip served its' intended purpose by highlighting both areas.

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Everyone's a Little Bit Racist
by Rob Saturday, Apr. 10, 2004 at 9:23 PM

In case anyone is still taking this issue seriously, you might check out one of CMU's excellent drama grads on Broadway, Natalie Venetia Belcon, in the hit play "Avenue Q". She is a black woman playing Gary Coleman (don't ask...) in this hilarious puppet based show that spoofs every minority, gays, and political correctness.

Natalie sings the song "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", a clip of which can be found here: http://switchboard.real.com/player/email.html?PV=6.0.12&&title=Avenue%20Q&link=http%3A%2F%2Faristaassociatedlabels.com%2Fmedia%2Favenue%5Fq%2Faudio%2F05%5Feveryones%5Fa%5Flittle%5Fbit%5Fracist%5F30%5F128.ram

You'll have to buy the score or see the play for all the words, which puts this whole ridiculous argument about the so-called n-word in a different perspective.

And just for the record, the Tartan has always been offensive, not only on April 1 but the other 364 as well. The editors suffer from the same intellectual narcissism as they did 30 years ago when I was a student. Big deal.

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Huh???
by Janus Monday, Apr. 12, 2004 at 8:16 PM

Now, it's one thing to shoot off a joke like that at a party but to actually PUBLISH IT!?!?!? How the hell did that happen??

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but
by Tim Tuesday, Apr. 13, 2004 at 12:34 PM

Well, if it is so offensive, why do most blacks use it in everyday life?

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Unbelievable
by Nina Friday, Apr. 16, 2004 at 6:34 AM
Ninasooz@yahoo.com

I think the most upsetting aspect of this whole thing is the impulsion behind this publication. That a university student would do this or think this could possibly be funny is so sad and it breaks my heart.

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Sheltered elitists
by Real life Friday, Apr. 16, 2004 at 7:02 AM

What can you expect from snot-nosed little punks whose parents can afford five-figures for them to pull this kind of shit? Then they act surprised when called on it.

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What is an Impulsion?
by Prodigal Yunzer Tuesday, Apr. 27, 2004 at 6:56 AM

As a resident of the deep south for 20+ years, on returning to Pittsburgh I must say that the little old lady in Charleston South Carolina had it right about Yankees and race relations. She said "We don't care how close they live to us, as long as they don't get too uppity. You Yankees don't care how uppity they get, as long as they don't live too close to you." Anyone from Pittsburgh lecturing anyone else on race relations is a joke. Every other city has blacks in the Democrat machine. The women and blacks in Pittsburgh are ignored by the Democrats. I think the ipulsion behind that is the abonishment of patriarchalization.

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I guess its even
by That N****a Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2004 at 6:06 AM

I dont know if anyone is still reading this but I watch the Chapelle Show and I guess the newspaper was trying to even the score

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The "N" Word...
by JASper Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004 at 4:47 PM
Shenandoah Valley, VA

Christ, I am so tired of the "N" word, the "F" word, the "B" word, the "C" word, etc., etc., etc.

Use the fucking words you overly sensitive bunch of assholes.

Keep this in mind, our alphabet only has 26 letters. I don't see why you dumbasses feel the need to say the letter instead of the God damned words. Grow the hell up and get over it already! Just get over it!!!

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Carnegie Mellon sucks
by Tina Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2005 at 9:34 AM

I'm a junior at Carnegie Mellon so it's too late for me to escape. But this is advice for the highschoolers: don't enroll at Carnegie Mellon University!

CMU is a living hell. Aweful weather, aweful people, aweful professors, aweful social life; it's basically a microcosm of depressed rich people.

Even if you are rich, you won't be rich after completing tenure at CMU. That's because tuition costs more than $30,000 per year, plus you are required to sign up for meal plans, on-campus housing and student activities. Everyone pays at least $40,000 per year to attend.

The average undergraduate salary is actually $29,000. The public stats are biased by the school because they only attribute for the science and technology fields, but not the architechture, arts, humanities, information systems and other miscellaneous majors.

Do a search for yourself and look for posts from current students like me. We all hate the school, and are always amazed how many new freshman fall into the trap every year.

Don't come to CMU; it's the last place on earth you want to be.

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CMU's Not That Bad
by Scott Friday, Jul. 01, 2005 at 6:45 PM

Well, then the obvious solution would be to only come here if you're a techincal major. It's what we're best at, anyways.

Not to mention that just about any other private school would have the same price as CMU, the only way it's going to be cheaper is if you go to a public one.

Also, I've talked with a few friends about the whole Natrat thing and we still don't get why people got so pissed about it. It seems that because most people subscribe to the "Everything's funny until it's about me." philosophy the staff just managed to hit a broad enough spectrum to raise the ire of enough people to get them in trouble for something that, individually, wouldn't have caused nearly as much of a fuss.

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Second.
by Kristina Monday, Aug. 01, 2005 at 11:33 AM

I second the comment that CMU is not all that bad. Anyone who is considering going to CMU has to do a lot of research to find out if it is the right place, because for a lot of people it is 'right on' as a choice in university. The problem that I found with people who hate(d) CMU is that they are somewhat close-minded and haven't bothered to discover what the school has to offer, they stay hidden within their tight social cicles, complain and are only subject to the rigorous curriculums and apparent indiscrepancies between the majors and colleges. CMU's problem is that it is trying to be a 'unified' university when really it is just a comglomerate of numerous amazing schools. Sometimes that causes some people anger.
If you enjoy knowing or being a person that is passionate about their work, if you enjoy hearing opera rehearsals on your way to an engineering class and if you are ready to recognize that secret nerd inside, then CMU is the place for you.
If you go and don't like it, get off your high complaining horse and transfer, CMU could be better off if it parted with more 'passive victims' between its walls.

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Second.
by Kristina Monday, Aug. 01, 2005 at 11:34 AM

I second the comment that CMU is not all that bad. Anyone who is considering going to CMU has to do a lot of research to find out if it is the right place, because for a lot of people it is 'right on' as a choice in university. The problem that I found with people who hate(d) CMU is that they are somewhat close-minded and haven't bothered to discover what the school has to offer, they stay hidden within their tight social cicles, complain and are only subject to the rigorous curriculums and apparent indiscrepancies between the majors and colleges. CMU's problem is that it is trying to be a 'unified' university when really it is just a comglomerate of numerous amazing schools. Sometimes that causes some people anger.
If you enjoy knowing or being a person that is passionate about their work, if you enjoy hearing opera rehearsals on your way to an engineering class and if you are ready to recognize that secret nerd inside, then CMU is the place for you.
If you go and don't like it, get off your high complaining horse and transfer, CMU could be better off if it parted with more passive 'victims' between its walls.

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carnegie mellon sucks big time
by scott Monday, Aug. 08, 2005 at 4:17 PM

aright high schoolers - do not come to cmu. you will just be wasting all of your money and time. there is no social life, dating, fun, extracurriculars, etc. all you will do is study all day in your 3x3 square foot dorm room called HAMMERSCHLAG or MOREWOOD. these dorms don't have air conditioning.

you should only go to cmu if you are a loser nerd, ugly and smell bad.

anyone who says cmu is really diverse is full of it. all the asians hang out together, all the blacks hang together, and all the scottish bagpipers hang together. it the biggest segregated community of all time, which is sad.

do the research on your own. check out the rankings on cmu for undergrad and graduate majors. theyre not impressive at all.

go to a real school like cornell, northwestern or penn state. but if you come to cmu, you wil go home crying to your mommy wishing pittsburgh never existed

ps. the weather sucks here too. its ALWAYS in one of three conditions:
1. snow storm
2. hurricane
3. OR heat wave

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sad but true
by royal Monday, Aug. 08, 2005 at 4:26 PM

Well there are plenty of tools available to high schoolers now to verify that Carnegie Mellon University really is in fact a roach-infested piece of fecal matter.

1. Check out CMU on thefacebook.com. You can see all of the photos and interests of the students there. About 99% of the entries will be either fat white boys with beards or Asian men who try to look cool by putting a lot of hair gel in their hair. You won't notice the 1% of females at CMU because most of them look like men.

2. Contact a CMU student in advance. About 75% of the time, the CMU student will discourage you from coming to CMU.

3. Lookup the official college suicide rates. You will find CMU ranks in the top ten of all colleges in the world in which students commit suicide.

4. Visit CMU during a normal school day. Hear much? See much? Nope. The 2000 "diverse" students are busy studying. There's not much time to play football on the grass or go sittin sidewayz on the streets.

Speaking of student population, there really are only about 2,000 undergrads. Where else is the student population only about 2,000?? High school! That's right! CMU is just like high school; the same clicks, groups, politics, etc. Except everyone is ugly. And stinky.

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Haha
by Justin Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006 at 12:46 AM

You guys are kind of dumb. Why do you go to CMU if you hate it so much? Either shut the hell up or transfer. Simple as that. Carnegie Mellon is actually an amazing school if you come here for the right reasons. I'm in computer science and hey, it has the number one undergrad program in the country. that sounds pretty good to me. And uh...wasn't Tepper ranked the third best business school internationally? That seems kind of all right, too.

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Looks
by non CMU student Saturday, Jul. 26, 2008 at 3:14 AM

Notice how he didn't refute the comments about the ugly people there and the boring environment.

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CMU and racism
by B. Smith Friday, Oct. 07, 2011 at 11:57 PM

Racism at CMU enjoys a long and shameful history; many CMU students, staff and faculty engage in various forms of racism. As a former CMU student and staff member. I have personally experienced many incidents involving racist verbiage from students, disrespect and malice from staff, double standards and exclusion from faculty. The racist atmosphere is open and tolerated. One former staff member (now a CMU department director) used to sit with his fraternity friends and shout 'n_gg_r' at every black student passing. This same individual once attempted to have me fired for incompetence because I represented a threat.

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