A mock op-ed published in the joke issue of The Daily Princetonian has ignited one of the first major free speech controversies of the new semester. The column, written by the paper’s managing board, “ran with the byline ‘Lian Ji,’ referring to Yale freshman Jian Li, who filed a bias complaint against the university last year, alleging that the Admissions Office discriminates against Asian applicants,” according to an article in the Princetonian. Written in broken English, the managing board packed the column with almost every Asian stereotype.
The controversy, only a few days old, has been discussed on blogs outside of Princeton, incited a wave of letters to the editor, and already has its own Facebook group. The Princetonian also reports that the Asian-American Students Association (AASA) is “coordinating with other Asian student groups on campus to present a unified response on behalf of those offended by the column.” The response has ranged from disappointment at a botched joke to a suggestion that the AASA go after the paper for violating the “Racial or Ethnic Bias and Harassment” section of Princeton’s University Principles of General Conduct and Regulations policy. Of course, almost all those who were offended at least expect an apology.
Following the script written for them in 2006, the editorial board has already issued an apology, explained the motivation behind the column, and called for further debate. Let’s hope that the backlash does not cross from conversation to official sanctions. FIRE will be watching.