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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Editorial: Column controversy

The California Aggie has formally retracted Tiffany Lew’s Jan. 22 column, “The Rise of the Girly Men.” The column made multiple insensitive comments, offending a significant portion of the UC Davis community.

We understand that, but some critics were too quick to assume one person’s opinion column could be reflective of everyone and everything associated with The Aggie.

Readers have called Lew’s column homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic and racist. Many of the accusations are justifiable for this column, but do not apply to The Aggie’s body of work as a whole.

In fact, our coverage is quite the opposite.

The Aggie did a story on the Queer Leadership Retreat just last week. We covered the Davis is Burning Drag Show, just like we do every year. We covered the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center’s Pride Week in October.

We did a story on a study that showed gays and lesbians typically have the same relationship values as straight men and women in October. We did another when Afsaneh Najmabadi, a visiting Iranian scholar, came to UC Davis to discuss gender and sexuality issues. We also wrote an editorial last winter opposing the planned closure of the Gender Education program.

Some of our opinion columnists are addressing these same issues. Haley Davis discussed transphobia in the feminist community on Dec. 3. She called Lady Gaga a feminist icon on Jan. 7. Mario Lugo, meanwhile, recently wrote about his personal experiences dealing with the homophobia he experienced throughout high school.

We’re not trying to justify the column, but it’s disappointing that the views of one writer have caused readers to lose sight of the overall direction of our coverage. Everyone – including Lew, even though her thoughts are in no way representative of The Aggie – is entitled to their opinion. These blanket criticisms, however, are unfounded and difficult to justify.

This unfortunate controversy has, at the very least, brought attention to the struggles that many members of our on-campus community strive to overcome on a daily basis. If you feel underrepresented by The Aggie, by all means, please contact us so we can continue writing articles about such issues.

12 COMMENTS

  1. And in my opinion, removing the article is not quite “taking responsibility” – that was simply a move to mitigate any further embarrassment.

  2. Now here’s what I don’t get. Why does the Cal Aggie not take responsibility for releasing Lew’s article? Do the editors not screen the pieces before they are published? This editorial is just shameful; wash your hands clean of responsibility and everything’s okay, eh?

  3. Also- if I were Tiffany Lew, I would feel so embarrassed at my editors and supervisors completely throwing me under the bus and neglecting to take any responsibility for the ignorance they shared with her in allowing it to be read by anyone. Tiffany- you shouldn’t be fired, you should quit.

  4. I am really sorry… but this is incredibly embarrassing- almost more so than the article by Tifanny herself. As was, it was much more disappointing, not that Tiffany Lew wrote it, but that the Aggie staff and Opinion editor and Editor-in-Chief did not feel at all uncomfortable or concerned about its publication.

    The unapology above is even more hurtful, yet. The title already indicates a lack of concern or regret for the sentiments spewed onto our Davis community by Ms. Lew, but indicates that it is controverial, not problematic, that the article was published.
    IT WAS OFFENSIVE, YOU NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT AND EXPLAIN TO US- YOUR (HESITANT) READERS- HOW YOU ARE GOING TO MAINTAIN A PROFESSIONAL AND MORAL POLICY TO EDUCATE YOUR READERS AND NOT MARGINALIZE THEM.

    As a publication, we must expect more from you than ignorant free-for-all that sometimes, and very recently, happens in your Opinion section.
    I am glad, too, that you allowed someone to publish their opinion about the progressiveness of Lady Gaga, but it evidences even more the need of this paper to experience a diversity sensitivity intervention of grand proportions. Feminism is not the same as a drag show is not the same as an Iranian speaker talking about gender issues… how dare you.

    Simply: If Tiffany Lew’s article was deleted for ignorance, this needs it’s own column to confront its potentially more problematic repercussions.

  5. Shorter Aggie Editors:

    “Hey, don’t get us wrong, we have gay friends, and also something about Lady Gaga.”

    Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the first amendment doesn’t protect you from others calling you out on the fact that you’re an idiot.

  6. I think it’s telling that the main message of this editorial statement is to cover The Aggie’s own ass. You would think that after having published an article that offended so many people, it would at least apologize.

    Especially noteworthy is the following:
    “Readers have called Lew’s column homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic and racist. Many of the accusations are justifiable for this column, but do not apply to The Aggie’s body of work as a whole.
    In fact, our coverage is quite the opposite.”

    Yeah, you know, cause we covered QLR and Davis is Burning, and even call Lady Gaga a feminist icon.

    …but then we go and let an article containing hate speech be published. Uh huh.

    TO EDITORS OF THE AGGIE: I, and many others, would like a formal apology for publishing this article.

  7. The problem I think that people are having is with the tone of the response by The Aggie staff. It’s one thing to say, “Yes, we printed the article, but it in no way or shape reflects the views of our staff,” it’s another to say that it’s unfair to asssociate the staff of The Aggie with the article. The article had to have passed through someone’s hands at some point, it wouldn’t have magically appeared in print without going through a chain of command and it’s very disconcerting that the article would’ve just passed through without raising a red flag at some point. There is a certain level of accountability there and there is a general sense that the steps that have been taken in response to the criticism has been barring on the side of inadequate.

  8. Anne: The Aggie did take responsibility for what was published. We removed the article the night after it was posted. We printed a formal retraction in the next day’s paper. We printed a very critical and unusually long letter to the editor in response to this column. And in this very editorial we acknowledged that many of the criticisms people had of the column were valid.

  9. Sorry Anne, but you are misguided in your response to this editorial. The Aggie is not saying that printing an article on a Queer Leadership Retreat warrants a column like Ms. Lew’s. They are responding to those who said that everybody at the Aggie is homophobic, heteronormative, etc. for letting this article go in. This article does not reflect their views in any way. That is the point of it if you read it thouroughly enough. Also, the readers don’t necessarily make the paper. The Aggie makes zero dollars on student readership. You and all students read it for free. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. It is your choice. But The Aggie doesn’t lose anything from you not reading it.

  10. It’s really unfortunate and saddening to see that this is the way you guys decided to handle this controversy. Instead of blaming the audience for being overly judgmental, it would have been nice to have seen the Aggie take responsibility for what they published. After all, the Aggie is published for the betterment of the student body, right? A racist/homophobic/etc. column was published online by the publication—the *least* the newspaper could do is apologize for what was written. Maybe not from the paper, but maybe from the columnist. Hubris seems to play a large role in how the newspaper is ran. A lot of people would like to see some type of action taken—but hey, if you guys think that writing about a Queer Leadership Retreat one week then writing a hateful column the next is okay.. well, I guess it’s okay like how Ms. Lew watching Ellen makes her homophobic rants okay. I really hope the Aggie learns from this, and doesn’t blame their hardships on the readers. After all, if you didn’t have the readers, the paper would be nothing.

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