Rutgers University: Bias Investigation of Satirical Newspaper

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Rutgers University – New Brunswick

In April 2011, as part of its annual April Fools’ edition, Rutgers student satire publication The Medium published a fake editorial titled “What about the good things Hitler did?”, jokingly attributed to another student columnist known on campus for his frequent commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick denounced the article and announced that the school had launched an investigation of its publication as a possible “bias incident.” Just days after FIRE sent a letter to Rutgers airing our concerns and hours after FIRE publicized the investigation, Rutgers notified FIRE that the administration would not punish The Medium, stating that “students are not punished for exercising their right to free speech, including speech in student publications.”

There is currently no media coverage for this case.
  • Victory: Rutgers Will Not Punish Satirical Newspaper

    May 1, 2012

    On Friday, I blogged about Rutgers University’s bias investigation of the student satire publication The Medium for jokingly attributing a fake article praising Adolf Hitler to another student. As we made clear in the letter we sent Rutgers, punishing the protected expression of The Medium—or even allowing the impression to take hold that such expression was punishable—would be an impermissible violation of the paper’s First Amendment rights.  Hardly had my entry gone live on our website, however, when FIRE received a response from Rutgers Assistant General Counsel Sarah Luke, responding in relevant part: The university very scrupulously addresses First Amendment […]

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  • Rutgers’ Bias Investigation of Satirical Newspaper is No Laughing Matter

    April 27, 2012

    Last week, we pointed to a piece penned by former FIRE intern Alex Lewis in The Daily Targum, Rutgers University’s main campus newspaper, in response to a controversial “bias investigation” of The Medium, a weekly satirical Rutgers newspaper. Now, The Star Ledger (Newark, New Jersey) is covering the incident as well, in a piece that quotes Alex and draws further attention to the controversy. The Star-Ledger summarized the investigation: The flap began when the campus satirical publication, the Medium, ran a parody of the work of a columnist at the Rutgers Targum. The columnist, Aaron Marcus, writes frequently on the […]

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