There is a finesse to pulling the wool over a constituent’s eyes; and it is becoming something of a lost art. Gone are the days of “we have found weapons of mass destruction,” lost in favor of “windmill noises cause cancer.” It’s an odd place to be, nostalgic for the politician’s convincing lie, wishing that Donald Trump’s cover ups were as thorough as Nixon’s. Back in the day, you had to make your lie believable because you assumed that the general public, or at least the portion of the public that pays attention to politics, could see through your bullshit. Now with Trumpism, it doesn’t matter. There’s a lost respect for the constituency’s intelligence that comes with the easy-to-see-through political lie.
The proposal to remove The Hoot’s charter status at least tried to look like it was trying to be convincing. Saying that the environment and sustainability are important and that two newspapers in print is a waste of resources was a good virtue signal. It was a valid reason to have one paper; I mean, who doesn’t want to save the environment (at a liberal university)? But that is where the art of the lie ends.
Let’s ignore the obvious biases and conflicts of interests all of you reading this opinion piece already know about the proposal’s author. Let’s just focus on its weaknesses. In its attempts to bolster its argument, it got lazy. It chose quantity over quality and gave us: duality of purpose, easy transfer of writers between papers, the papers don’t have distinct styles, other colleges only have one paper and, my personal favorite, alumni don’t care about anything after they graduate.
It is beyond easy to counter these points. They pile on as excuses for the proposal, not as valid reasonings. Duality of purpose? Aside from my opinion that it’s a stupid rule anyway, The Hoot and the Justice merely serve similar purposes. The Hoot covers smaller campus events than the Justice, often things students actually care about. There’s your distinct style as well. The Hoot was also founded in response to the Justice’s publishing of a racial slur. While the secured paper has gotten better in its bigotry, it still has a way to go (Note that I am not arguing that The Hoot is without fault. I merely argue that the Justice is still problematic at times).
The argument that writers of The Hoot could easily move to the Justice is also moot. Many people write for The Hoot due to lack of comfort with the Justice, myself included. And the Justice has a rule against writing for rival papers. Hoot writers would have no avenue for journalism anymore. The argument that other colleges only have one paper sounds better as an argument for keeping both. It’s something that gives Brandeis a unique identity and adds to its (admittedly shaky) reputation as a social-justice-oriented institution.
Maybe the proposal’s author can’t wait to forget their years at Brandeis, but most alumni I know (and a significant portion of former Hoot team members who have proven their love for the paper) do indeed care about their alma mater, and the legacies they left there. Whether they’re friends who message their not-yet-graduated friends “good luck” before performances or tests, or people who come back to see or perform in an anniversary show 30 years later (as members of Boris’ Kitchen’s founding class did last year)—they care. This argument was entirely a weak fallacy.
In conclusion, I just wish the proposal lied better. It would have made it look more professional, and probably would have given it better chances of being passed. The Trump route may work when one has a support base that blindly follows a leader and willingly eats up the garbage. But when proposing something that you know will be controversial? Cover your tracks better so people can’t trace the obvious line between you and your well-known biases. Better yet, let someone else push the proposal. Or don’t do it at all.