University censorship hits WVFI
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I remember being in kindergarten, I think it was the second day. A bunchof the guys were doing typical guy-kindergarten things, playing war with the multi-colored intergalactic star ships we had each crafted out of these near-LEGO's that my kindergarten had. It was all kinds of fun, zooming and crashing the ships all over the area rug that had been designated as the intergalactic battle ground. We looked forward to a whole year of fun with multi colored near-LEGO wars.
Until that one kid came over and ended our war. Not in a playful kindergarten way, he didn't defeat all the other ships in some all out plastic dog fight. No, this little kindergarten scoundrel decided he was going to start snatching ships out of other people's hands, throwing blocks all over the room and causing a big commotion. We all gave him the condescending kindergarten equivalent of, "Hey pal, why you gotta be like that?" but it was to no avail. Before too long our teacher spotted the commotion, came over and ended our war. There was no inquiry into what had happened, no negotiations, no Martian prison camps built out of Lincoln Logs or real LEGO's. Just the last intergalactic skirmish of the entire year. All because of that one guy and his bad attitude.
Most people can probably relate to this story. Everyone has experienced the burning anger that all us bloodthirsty kindergartners tasted when thatone kid ruined all the fun. Everyone has had to live through the illogical and irrefutable punishment dolled out by parents, teachers, school bus drivers and other adults who decided the best means of solving a problem was to autocratically, and without explanation, destroy the fun and good times for everyone rather than target the real troublemaker. Being a kid is all about dealing with situations like that. Luckily, going off to college means leaving all of that behind.
At most colleges maybe.
The vast majority of people on this campus are unaware of our college radio station WVFI. True, college radio everywhere isn't a tenth of what it was when four guys named REM were creating it twenty years ago in Georgia. Still, this year the hotly wired Notre Dame information infrastructure took a big step in bringing back college radio. The station, formerly broadcasting on 660 AM, switched to an Internet format so that everyone in the world could potentially listen to the station. Beyond even the football broadcasts of Saturday afternoon, the station was able to send the shows of aspiring college DJ's to campuses and computers all over the world. All until some kindergartners started throwing the blocks.
Allegedly in response to the childish and inappropriate actions of a few no talent mavericks who thought they would pose as Howard Stern, the University decided to fire wall the web site. In layman's terms, they made it so the site could be broadcast ONLY to people on the Notre Dame server, meaning, on campus. In a heartbeat, the work and plans of all the studentswho designed and constructed the new format went out the window. The story circulating says that some kids decided to swear on the air and the university decided to take down the entire network. The individuals were not singled out or removed, the entire station was punished swiftly, decisively and without reproach. That seems fair and logical, right? Right. About as logical as the guys in my kindergarten class trying to have new dog fights with make believe starships.
There is no disputing that Notre Dame is geographically self contained. Why it must be so stubborn in the effort to remain an intellectual Biodome, however, is beyond my comprehension. There are brilliant people on this campus, and there seems no legitimate reason that their talents not be used when such a medium exists for such. Periodically exchange some of the stagnant regurgitated philosophies and perspectives for the fresh air of the (don't all scream at once) outside world. There are always going to be a few morons who swear on the radio, and when they do, I say deal with them and be on your way. Regulate individuals, don't punish the masses. But most importantly, deal with the issue and plainly justify your actions to those who are concerned. In this case, that means not just the people who work on this station, but the entire student body, whether they listen to the radio-Internet or not. Don't sweep the issue under the rug like some bad advertisement that you don't want anyone to see. All I really needed to know about illogical punishment I learned in kindergarten; I didn't think I'd have to revisit the horrors fifteen years later at college. Please, don't let the sour behavior of a few bad apples ruin a boy's great plans and big dreams for his well crafted, multi colored, intergalacticstarship. And if you run into that kid from my kindergarten class, ask him why he's gotta' be like that.
October 31, 1999
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, November 3, 1999