Threats too Absurd to Ignore

Just when I worry that I’ll run out of things to say, something new and newly absurd happens. On a national scale, there was Donald Trump accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping, Mike Pence using a private email and Jeff Sessions surreptitiously meeting with the Russian ambassador. On a local scale, there was debate over whether Aaron Carter’s support of Donald Trump makes him condemnable (it does) and whether his renunciation of said support makes him redeemable (it does not).

All of this absurdity means that we, as a press, have a lot to cover. It also makes coverage efforts themselves feel futile, as correcting blatant falsities gets exhausting when the figures being corrected invert the truth to say “no, you’re lying.” But if we give up, we allow a crazy spectacle to serve its purpose as a distraction, and we get so caught up in the obfuscation of truth that we lose track of indisputable realities.

One of the realities that seems to have gotten lost in the tangle of headlines is an inter-state legislative crackdown on civilians’ right to organize. The New York Times reported on March 2 that “Republican legislators in at least 16 states have filed bills intended to make protests more orderly or to toughen penalties against ones that go awry.” These newly proposed restrictions include classifying the obstruction of a high-speed road as a felony in Iowa and an allowance for cities to sue demonstrators “for the cost of policing their protests” in Minnesota.

Since the Times identifies these as Republican-led charges, students who feel cozy in their so-called “liberal bubbles” might not detect an immediate concern, but the article mentions two more states with protest-restricting bills headed for legislative floors: Massachusetts and North Carolina, the former of which some residents regard as a utopian liberal exception. It’s not. Any space, from a nation to a classroom, can foster one sort of perspective or ideology while still giving to influences from another. People can laud or lament ideological isolation all they want, but the exceptions don’t really exist.

This mentality is dangerous because the illusion of exceptionality can easily lead to a lack of concern. In this vein, I remember a snippet from my conversation with Patrisse Cullors, when she made the unforgiving assertion: “There’s no reason why students should be apathetic in this time.” It’s a shame, I should note, that Cullors was not able to come to campus and invigorate the student body, and I look forward to running coverage of her promised eventual visit in the Voice, but whether she was or will be here or not, Cullors’ words remain true and pertinent. Among all the injustice and absurdity that surrounds us, there’s still a lot of apathy at Conn.

There are times when I’m amazed by passionate student efforts, but sometimes, I’m in awe at the apathy on campus. I guess that sense of awe comes out in my writing, as Blanche Boyd recently told me that my written voice resembles someone “sarcastic and detached” due to being “surrounded by absurdity, and furious.” Blanche was referring to how I write fiction and creative projects far unlike what you’ll see from me here, where I’m not too sarcastic and almost never detached. But to a degree, Blanche’s comments translate. For the Voice, I keep it together and mostly serious, but not everyone has to.

From contributors, we want to see critical and creative work; we want to see hilarious and enraged and above all, passionate work. Send us your tragic stories, your bizarre poems, your cutting satire. Do not send us your screenplays. But do send us your insightful essays on the state of the world right now, whether your world fits within this oblong little campus or stretches around the globe. One of the biggest misconceptions I hear about the Voice is that it’s a newspaper focused only on reporting on-campus news and events, and that is not the case. We do cover the local stuff—because if we didn’t, no one else would, and because hey, sometimes our community is interesting—but we’re really about sharing the voices of students, faculty and staff, whether by reporting what they’ve done or displaying their thoughts on a topic.

In this editorial, I threw you a piece of bait: your right to organize is in danger. So if you think that or anything else is noteable or question-worthy,—which you should—let us know. In the meantime, read this issue and listen to us think.

-Maia