Satire earns suspensions for Wisc. high school journalists
WISCONSIN — No one was laughing about an April Fool’s Day column at Logan High School that was so offensive to some students it was confiscated by the principal less than an hour after being printed.
The column, written by senior Sam Sorenson, was intended as satire. Sorenson said he had intended to copy the inflammatory style of fictional tabloid columnist “Ed Anger,” who he said routinely engages in purposely exaggerated tirades and tangents. His parody made several negative references to homosexuals and targeted students at the school Sorenson referred to as “freaks.” It went on to say, “… I wish it was the old days when you could open fire on a horde of those flag-burning pansies and the cops would pat you on the back and cover for you. What is this world coming to?”
He said when he wrote the column he assumed, “…that it was so extreme no one would ever take it seriously.”
Within a half an hour after the April Fool’s or “March 32nd” paper was distributed, the principal recalled almost all of the issues because of Sorenson’s column.
Offended student Josh Kampa got a hold of one copy, however, and during his lunch hour went off school grounds and made a flyer with excerpts from Sorenson’s column along with a message protesting its content. Part of the flyer sarcastically read, “… If you see Sam in the halls, be sure to thank him for this inspiring message of peace and love.”
Both Sorenson and Kampa were sent home from school the day of the column. Sorenson said he was “administratively excused” to avoid any conflicts with students who disagreed with his column. Kampa was allegedly suspended for “insubordination” for copying and distributing his flyer.
Sorenson said the administration “took the brunt of the responsibility” for letting his column run and that his newspaper adviser was not pressured.
The executive director of the Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union, Chris Ahmuty, said the ACLU is willing to represent either student if they decide to legally pursue their cases, but so far neither student has. Sorenson said he doubts he will seek to do so.
Fall 1996, reports